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Stimulus package infrastructure funds may not reach SCV

Congressman McKeon doubts Obama's plan will end up in local district

Posted: January 11, 2009 8:52 p.m.
Updated: January 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon doubts any of the economic stimulus package proposed by President-elect Barak Obama will find its way to Santa Clarita Valley.

"I don't know if any of it would find its way to our district," McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, said in a recent phone interview with reporters from Washington, D.C.

Obama unveiled his $775 billion economic stimulus package Thursday aimed at restoring jobs to more than 3 million out-of-work Americans.

His 14-page plan calls for substantial investments in infrastructure, education, health and energy and tax cuts for the middle class.

"It's not really so much a tax cut as a stimulus package," McKeon said "They (Democrats) want to give people who don't pay federal income taxes a check just so they'll spend it and that will then be a boom to the economy."

"They would pass money for projects without naming projects," he added.

"They would by passing money to build infrastructure and in our case, send money to the state.

Metropolitan Transit Authority would get money. Transportation dollars would go to places," he said.

"But, I don't know if any of it would find its way to our district given the makeup of our legislature in Sacramento. So I don't know how much benefit our district would see for something like that."

Obama countered critics with an analysis Saturday by his economic team showing that a program of tax cuts and spending like he's proposed would create up to 4.1 million jobs, far more than the 3 million he has insisted are needed to lift the country from recession.

Congressional Republicans reacted skeptically, just as Obama acknowledged he would be forced to recant some of his campaign promises given the economic crisis facing the country. Even the president-elect's own economists acknowledged their two-year estimates could be wrong.

Obama has provided few details of his $775 billion plan so far. This fresh report does not include the specific construction of his tax cuts, the amounts dedicated to state aid or public works - key details Obama aides have closely held.

The analysis came out one day after the unemployment rate had jumped to 7.2 percent, the highest in 16 years. The nation lost 524,000 jobs in December, bringing the total job loss for last year to 2.6 million, the largest since World War II.

McKeon said he doubts any of Obama's stimulus money earmarked for infrastructure projects will end up in Santa Clarita Valley.

Speaking to the press by phone from Washington, D.C., on the first day of the 111th Congress, McKeon outlined his goals for the coming year and gave promising updates on his two ongoing bills: the Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act, referred to as the Wilderness bill, and the Soledad Canyon Mine Act, or Cemex bill.

McKeon also said he supports a tax credit for new-car buyers which could be put in place quickly to jump-start a key sector of the economy.

"What I'm really concerned about is that they're talking about a 300 billion dollar tax cut - and I'm generally very in favor of tax cuts - but most of this would end up going to people who actually don't pay income tax," he said.

"Republicans are saying ‘Something this big - from 700 billion dollars to 1.3 trillion dollars - is something we ought to talk about'," Buck said. "It's getting to the point that talking about a trillion dollars is blasé."


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