Merkley: "Bold action is needed" on stimulus package (updated!)

Today, Senator Jeff Merkley called on his colleagues to support the proposed stimulus plan. He was joined by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).

From the Oregonian:

"I tell you, Oregon certainly understands this problem. In the last three months, every single month we've had a one percent increase in unemployment. It's gone from 6 percent to 9 percent in just 90 days,'' he said. "People are wondering, where's the bottom?''

The bill under consideration in the Senate, he said, is the answer and it strikes the right balance.

And if it fails, he said schools in Oregon could be forced to close early and prisons closed.

"Those kind of actions aren't right for our children, they won't be right for public safety and the certainly won't be right for jobs,'' he said.

Discuss.

Update: Over at DailyKos, Senator Merkley has a blog post criticizing obstructionist Republicans:

One project they’re attacking hit close to home. They’re calling funding to restore forest health and prevent wildfires in National Forests wasteful. Coming from Southern Oregon, I can tell you firsthand they are dead wrong.

I grew up in Southern Oregon. My father was a sawmill worker and a logger and his job put food on the table. Right now Douglas County, where I was born, has an unemployment rate of 12.8 percent. That’s the highest it’s been in decades and well above the current national average. Douglas County is home to many of Oregon’s timber workers and they need the stability of a good paying job. The money that would be allocated to counties like Douglas to restore forest health and prevent forest fires would put these folks back to work.

Let me explain. Due to federal mismanagement, there are millions of acres of choked and overgrown second-growth forests. These forests are a complete menace. They are diseased and are very little use for strong ecosystems. Moreover, they are a huge fire hazard. Thinning these neglected forests is essential for restoring forest health and generating thousands of rural jobs.

Let me emphasize this: this provision will create thousands of rural jobs. This is a win-win for our rural economies and our ecosystems.

Preventing wildfires is something that desperately needs to be done in any economic condition and now has the added benefit of providing jobs in areas that need them most.

Read the rest.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Great statement! One of his best! And he’s right! But the devil is in the details. Will this Senate version of the stimulus keep Oregon schools and prisons open? I’d like to see the analysis that shows that before a vote. As I’ve said before (here), and an Oregonian editorial echoed, Oregon should not end up having to lay off teachers, police, prison guards, human service workers and others on state funding while we nationally fund infrastructure and other federal priorities.

  • (Show?)

    Great statement! One of his best! And he’s right! But the devil is in the details. Will this Senate version of the stimulus keep Oregon schools and prisons open? I’d like to see the analysis that shows that before a vote. As I’ve said before (here), and an Oregonian editorial echoed, Oregon should not end up having to lay off teachers, police, prison guards, human service workers and others on state funding while we nationally fund infrastructure and other federal priorities.

  • Scott in Damascus (unverified)
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    And if it fails, he said schools in Oregon could be forced to close early and prisons closed.

    Oh stop with the scare tactics.

    Why close American schools and prisons when you could shut down Iraq, cancel all contracts with GE, Halliburton, KBR, and Bechtel, and bring all military home by Easter?

    That alone will add 1 billion to the Treasury - every freakin' day!

  • Stan F. (unverified)
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    Translated: give us what we want or we'll close your schools and let all the felons out.

    What bunch of BS scare tactics.

    It's not about cutting back during hard times - it's about spending even more money sending us down the toilet even faster. Who will the democrats blame if they get their 'stimulus' bill and it doesn't work? Was Jimmy Carter the architect of your stimulus bill?

  • (Show?)

    I'm a bit disappointed in the lack of specificity in the statement. "The bill" doesn't exist yet. There is a House version that is coming under heavy criticism from both sides of the aisle and a Senate version that is still being developed.

    Are there specific proposals that he endorses or opposes? How does he feel about the changes that Sen. Collins is proposing?

    I also don't like the heavy dose of Depression comparisons. While this is the most serious economic downturn most of us have experienced in our lifetime, and while there may be lessons that we can take from the Depression, we are nowhere near the Depression, when the stock market dropped 89%, unemployment was at 25%, and the banking system had to be shut down.

  • dddave (unverified)
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    Yes, pass it no matter what it is. The Patriot Act was passed to fast, but OK on this one.... $5 billion to ACORN. $7 billion to refurb federal buildings (please...) pork pork pork Estimated 30% pork and Jeff cant seem to mention one specific portion. We gave up a ranking guy for this dufus? Party line hack just looking stupid. The change i see is the spare change left in my pocket after paying for this pork.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    He really sounds like an outsider.

    Given the character of our schools and all the non-violent, statutory offenders in the prisons, why not combine the two?

    Of course Scott is right. How 'bout just some minor shifting of the contracts? I mean, instead of KBR building 27 domestic detention centers- with no specified purpose for their use- how many schools could be built?

  • (Show?)

    Not sure if it's The Oregonian's paraphrasing, or if Senator Merkley actually said this (he didn't in the video clip), but claiming this bill "is the answer" is not a good rhetorical point. This bill is a needed first step, but is not "the answer". It is the first part of a multi-part solution to the crisis.

    So I hope Merkley is not overselling this as the silver bullet that answers the problems we face. As our President correctly pointed out, this is just the first step on the path to recovery, but that path will not be short or easy.

    Stan F, you honestly believe that counter-cyclical spending is not appropriate?

    Almost every economist left and right would (and has) said that economic luddite thinking like what you appear to be ranting about is no longer operable and that stimulus spending (though some debate which gets you more bang for the buck, tax cuts vs. spending programs) is needed. Most also argue that the proposed bill is about $300 billion per year short of what is needed to offset the hole in the GDP we are seeing.

    Your arm-flapping and trying to use former President Jimmy Carter as the latest boogeyman de jour to trot out the old, and Republican economic dogma which has proven to be a demonstrative failure when put into practice is enough to make me embarrassed for you.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: dddave | Feb 5, 2009 2:00:25 PM

    Do you think that saying the word "pork" somehow lends any credence or substance to your rant?

    Are you suggesting that spending money on refurbishing buildings will not put thousands of idled construction workers to work?

    BTW, the stimulus bill passe din the House and the Senate bill Merkley is talking about here are not anything even remotely like the Patriot Act which was drafted by the Bush administration and handed to Congress to be passed without amendment within a week after 9/11. This bill was written BY Congress and a myriad amendments have been proposed (all voted one) with some being passed and the process is still ongoing.

    Your hysterics that this is some bill that is unread by Congress is laughable.

  • Stan F. (unverified)
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    "Stan F, you honestly believe that counter-cyclical spending is not appropriate?"

    I honestly believe we're at a point where continuing to print money - to fund the stimulus package is like pissing on a house fire. This really is starting to remind me of the Carter days of high inflation. Only time will tell, and the democrats have only themselves to blame if this doesn't work - not the economists, and not the repubs. What a start to "Change you can believe in"!

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    From Greg Palast:

    The heart and brain and rectum got into a fight about which one was more important. When the higher organs made fun of the butt-end, the rectum went on strike. After a month, the brain and heart couldn't take it any more -- the whole body was about to explode. So they told the rectum, "You win." And the rectum said, "Now you know why an asshole's always in charge."

    "Instead of an easily duped, incompetent weasel like Geithner for Secretary of the Treasury, what we really need is a lying bucket of evil snot, a flaming red take-no-prisoners asshole. A guy like [John] Thain that can sell a piece of crap like Merrill for billions -- twice -- is just what we need to shake down the sheiks [for the loan to pay for the stimulus package]. 'America for Sale! Cheap!'

    "And Thain comes with his own gold-plated toilet."

    This would all be funny if it weren't so sad.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Stan F. | Feb 5, 2009 3:29:43 PM I honestly believe we're at a point where continuing to print money - to fund the stimulus package is like pissing on a house fire.

    We are in a deflationary period which is nothing like the stagflation during the Carter administration. You don't seem to have an argument that's even remotely tethered to the basic outlines of our current situation, and so is not worth taking seriously.

    Even Jack Roberts, who is a Republican with whom I rarely agree with, is making the same sort of rebuttal I was making. That's is a pretty clear indication you are making bogus arguments.

  • (Show?)

    BTW, not to kick you while you are down too much Stan F, but the State of Oregon doesn't print money, and by law has to balance its budget. So your argument is double absurd given the topic of this thread.

  • (Show?)

    Echo Dave Porter's sentiments.

  • Zachary Vishanoff (unverified)
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    Thanks Murkily.....your package contains 100 million in waste to make Franklin Blvd in Eugene wider and more "walkable".(see the article in the Eugene Weekly this week about it) That money Nike funneled to your campaign in November of 2006 is sure paying off. Now a snazzy Franklin promenade will match the quarter billion dollar Nike arena. The billion dollar "arena district" will sure put Eugene on the map....as a regional black hole in sports pork waste. Welcome to good ol boy politics. I will not even get in to the eminent domain issues that will be arising to do this widening. A few business owners may want to touch base with their lawyers about now.

  • (Show?)

    Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood was constructed during the height of the depression by the WPA. Was such a lodge up on a mountain really needed? No, of course not. But it put people to work!

    I personally care a great deal less about what kind of projects are to be included in the economic stimulous package as I do about how effective they'll be at putting Americans back to work.

    The current economic woes aren't as bad as the Great Depression... YET. Let's try to make sure that it never does.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    This is the sae Merkley that made such a big deal about being against Bush's $750B piece of prok. RIght?

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