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Weak Jobs Report Fires Up House GOP Freshman's Calls for Spending Cuts

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Location: Washington, DC

Freshmen House Republicans are sticking to their guns on the need for immediate spending cuts in light of Friday's dismal jobs report.
First-term members interviewed by The Hill said the jobs report released Friday -- which showed unemployment rising to 9.1 percent -- is all the proof anyone should need that government spending doesn't stimulate the economy.

"The stimulus was nonsense that hasn't gotten this economy anywhere," Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) said.
Democrats argue the stimulus passed in 2009 was too small and that unemployment would have risen to 11 percent without it.

But the new GOP House members said Democrats who are demanding another round of stimulus are delusional and that only fiscal restraint and curtailing burdensome regulations will fix the country's economic mess.

They say spending fiscal restraint in Washington is the tonic that the economy needs and blame the White House and the Senate for not moving fast enough to slash the budget.

"We have to get our fiscal house in order to get people confident in investing in this economy again. That is what this whole debt conversation is about: its about sending a message to the markets that America is sound investment and we can get America back to work," Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) said. "That's going to require cuts in spending because you just don't get there without cuts on the spending side."

The freshmen are also increasing their calls for easing environmental and financial regulations.

High on the list for many is freeing up drilling in the Gulf of Mexico by expediting the permitting process.

"I have been trying to tell the administration that energy is crippling this economy and the president refuses to streamline the process to put more rigs drilling in the Gulf of Mexico," Landry said when asked about the jobs report.

Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) also puts a priority on expediting permitting for drilling. He is especially concerned that Dodd-Frank financial regulations are choking community banks and drying up capital.

"We have tried to defund regulations but so far that has not gotten past the Senate," he said. "Regulators are not evil people. They just think that since the financial crisis happened on their watch they need to clamp down on everybody. They are chocking off economic growth."

Deregulation has to be matched by budget cuts to get the economy going, he said.

"Employers want stability but they don't know where the economy is going," Lankford said.

"It's a one two punch: stabilize the fiscal house and rein in these agencies to create an environment that is pro-growth," he added.

Reed said rising gas prices and anxiety about energy are to blame for the slow economy as well. He said more needs to be done to encourage the extraction of natural gas from shale. Environmentalists are demanding restrictions on the use of "fracking' to obtain shale gas.

"It is so frustrating that trillions of dollars are remaining on companies' balance sheets," Rep. Steven Womack (R-Ark.) said. He attributes the reticence to uncertainty about the future and said the top reason is fear of higher taxes in the future to pay for more government spending.

Optimism can be restored if the U.S. restores its credibility on its debt and stops handcuffing job creators with red tape, he said.

"They are sitting on money which they want to invest, but the uncertainty caused by this administration is keeping them back," said Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) "Businesses don't know what this administration is going to do to them next, what taxes or what regulation is going to be imposed."

Cravaack said the idea that government spending stimulates the economy is just false.

"Keynesian theory has never worked. We spent $1 trillion and unemployment is nowhere near 8 percent," he said.

"Regulations are a major problem," he continued. "We have one of the richest precious metal deposits in my district, copper, nickel. A local company,

PolyMet Mining has had to deal with one environmental regulation after another." He said delays have held up 380 good-paying jobs

Freshmen said the reeling economy shows how ineffectual the Senate has been in responding to national problems and the outlook would be much less bleak if the House had gotten its way over the last five months.

"We are not getting anything substantive done because the Senate and this administration refuse to engage in substantive discussions about putting America on a path to prosperity," Landry said.

"Name one thing the House has passed that has been approved by the Senate without being significantly changed," Lankford said.

"Is there a Senate?" Womack asked.


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