Rep. Steve Kagen pitches pluses of federal economic stimulus package
January 29, 2009
By J.E. Espino
Post-Crescent staff writer
APPLETON — "It’s an investment we need to make to stimulate our economy," Kagen said Wednesday in a phone interview from Washington, D.C., minutes before the U.S. House of Representatives put the $825 billion bill up for a vote.
There’s a real squeeze taking place across the country, he said.
"We’ve lost a little over 2 million jobs in the last four months," Kagen said. "We have to stop the downward spiral. And this is the first step in doing so."
It is an astonishing amount for a recovery plan, Kagen said, but emphasized it is all being invested in the country.
Kagen said the plan has many benefits for Wisconsin and especially the northeastern part of the state, where distressed constituents have been flooding him with calls in telephone town hall meetings.
Kagen says it would:
- Pump $50 million in tax revenue into northeast Wisconsin school programs and construction.
- Provide Appleton schools with an additional $7 million and Green Bay schools $17 million.
During Tuesday’s forum with callers from Outagamie and Waupaca counties, Kagen said constituents’ overwhelming sentiment was heightened nervousness about the weakening economy and dimming employment prospects.
"They’re very concerned that their job is going to be next," he said. "They know of some people who have lost their jobs already."
Jake Rubin, a Kagen spokesman, said the 60-minute interactive forum drew more than 4,000 participants.
A hog farmer in Waupaca said he feared he would be the last farmer left of his kind.
"Agriculture is caught in a farming squeeze because the high prices from last summer are carrying over into the cost for fertilizing the field in this spring," Kagen said.
"The fertilizer companies have an input cost that is very high that the farmer today cannot afford to pay because of the collapse in the price of milk and dairy."
Kagen holds a second forum at 7 p.m. tonight with constituents in Brown, Door and Kewaunee counties.
A third forum with residents in Shawano, Oconto, Marinette, Menominee, Florence, Forest, Langlade, Oneida and Vilas counties is on Kagen’s calendar at 7 p.m. Tuesday.