by David Lightman
Republicans in the House of Representatives Saturday charged next week's Democratic-led effort to save an estimated 138,800 teaching jobs and help pay health benefits for low income people amounts to a "political season payoff to union bosses."
Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., who also compared Democrats to unruly teenagers, made his points in the GOP's weekly address. The House had left Washington for its summer recess July 30, but Democratic leaders announced it will return next week to consider a $26.1 billion aid package. A final vote is expected Tuesday. The Senate approved the plan last week.
The plan, pushed hard by state and local government officials as well as some labor unions, is being touted by Democratic leaders as a crucial step in assuring that classrooms have enough teachers as school begins in many areas later this month.
But GOP leaders have been skeptical, saying that state and local governments should look harder for budget cuts, rather than rely on the federal government, which is already facing record budget deficits.
Saturday, in the weekly address that traditionally articulates the Republican congressional leadership view, Roskam came out firing.
"Unfortunately, instead of taking decisive action to provide small and medium sized businesses with much needed tax and regulatory relief they need to flourish and hire new workers, Speaker Pelosi and Democrat Leaders in Congress are coming back to Washington next week to double down on their 'stimulus' agenda that has led to fewer jobs and more debt," he said.
The legislation is paid for largely with a change in a food stamp program and by closing some corporate tax loopholes.
Not good enough, said Roskam. "This latest round of stimulus spending comes in the form of a political season payoff to union bosses, and even worse, it'll be financed with a job-killing tax hike on America's job-creators. "Under Democratic Leaders in Congress spending has gotten completely out of control," he maintained. "It reminds me of when Mom and Dad go away for the weekend. The teenagers say, 'leave us home alone, we're responsible, what can go wrong?' Except Mom and Dad come home a day early to find the house is trashed, the police are parked outside and everything is a mess."
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, speaking to reporters in a conference call, called the Republican position arrogant, adding, "It tells you what defines the differences between the two parties on this issue."