KNAU and Arizona News
6:27 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

Politicking Could Hurt Economic Recovery

President Obama is giving Congress a “to do” list.

He’s asking lawmakers to help him lower interest rates on mortgages for millions of homeowners.

And he wants to entice U-S companies with holdings overseas to invest that money here at home by ending some tax breaks they enjoy.

The president is urging Congress to pass these and three other components of the Jobs Act he introduced earlier in the year.

“We’ve all got to pull in the same direction," the President said. "So even if Republicans are still saying “no” to some of the bigger proposals we made in the Jobs Act there are some additional ideas that could help people get to work right now and that they haven’t said “no” to yet, so I’m hoping they say “yes.””

The president says he’s not getting a fair shake because Republicans continue to blunt his economic agenda.

Arizona Congressman and G-O-P Senate candidate Jeff Flake says that’s the point.

“Well, I sure hope we are," Flake laughs, "because his agenda is going the wrong direction. It’s higher taxes and more regulation and I hope we continue to blunt it.”

A central plank in the administration’s new legislative push is to renew a series of tax credits that have helped Arizona’s renewable energy industry.

A study in February by Eliot D. Pollack and Company estimates that Arizona’s clean energy industry generates around two billion dollars of economic activity.

Arizona Democrat Raul Grijalva says Republicans are being foolish by opposing the program. 

“They’re not only not giving it a fair shot," he said. "I think they’re shooting themselves in the foot, because those to me are not only publicly acceptable but they will have a good impact on the economy. Their inability at least to compromise on those I think it hurts them in the long run.”

Arizona’s clean energy industry is estimated to support around sixteen thousand jobs in the state.

But Republicans say propping those jobs up with the tax credits is unfair to other sectors.

Arizona Congressman Trent Franks wants to see them go away.   

“I think there’s a lot of winners and losers picking in that, and of course I’m adamantly against that," he said. "I don’t think government should do that, because then it becomes a politically driven economy which is what we’ve had for the last three and a half years and it ain’t working very well.”

The president’s plan would also provide tax credits to small businesses who hire new employees.

The House has already acted on a bill to ease the tax burden on small firms.

But Republicans still don’t seem to be on board with the president.

Franks says the Senate ought to take up some of the bills the House has already passed and then the two sides can negotiate towards a compromise.

“Absolutely there’s going to be differences," Franks said. "We can fight about that. But if we never even get a vote, if they ignore thirty two jobs bills in this environment, it’s hard to even know what to say.”

But Congressman Grijalva says the G-O-P plan to slash the budget without investing in the economy isn’t wise.   

“You know there has to be a balanced approach," he said. "That austerity and cost cutting are not going to pull us out of the hole. And I think what the president is doing right now is to try to create that balance and more importantly, you know, that’s what we hear. That’s the need: jobs and energy independence and that’s two strategies towards that.”

The partisan tit for tat is nothing new, and analysts expect the gridlock to persist through November’s elections.

That means the president and House Republicans are both likely to continue to see their agenda’s blunted.

Voters will then be left to decipher which party is to blame for the sluggish economy.