Kagen touts PAYGO law
BY ROBERT CLOUD
COUNTY POST WEST EDITOR
WAUPACA – U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, spent all day Monday in Waupaca County, visiting coffee shops, restaurants, living rooms and other venues to meet local citizens.
The economy and health care reform were the issues that most people wanted to discuss with their congressman.
“The medicine we need right now is jobs, jobs, jobs,” Kagen said.
Among the topics he discussed was the Feb. 12 enactment of pay-as-you-go federal legislation.
Also known as PAYGO, the law requires Congress to offset the costs of new programs or new tax cuts by cutting existing programs or raising taxes.
The PAYGO bill passed the House by a 233-187 vote, with every Republican voting against it because they say it will be ineffective at reducing the deficit.
“PAYGO worked before and it will work again,” Kagen said, noting that under PAYGO during President Bill Clinton’s administration the federal government ran budget surpluses in the late 1990s and began paying down the national debt. The surpluses quickly evaporated when PAYGO was allowed to expire under President George Bush.
“As president, Bush spent money on two wars without paying for it, pushed through two tax cuts for the rich without paying for it, gave $400 billion to the big drug companies without paying for it and handed out $1 trillion to the big banks without paying for it,” Kagen said.
In addition to a legacy of federal debt, Bush has passed on to his successor the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.
Kagen believes bringing the federal deficit under control will be a first step toward economic recovery.
“Over time, this bill will help us pay down our debts and work our way back to prosperity,” Kagen said. “We’re coming through one of the darkest chapters in American economic history and we’re going to make it.”
He noted that in January 2009, the U.S. economy lost 740,000 jobs in a single month. This January, there was a net loss of 20,000 jobs, Kagen said.
“We didn’t get into this recession overnight and it’s going to take some time before the economy recovers,” Kagen said. “We’ve stopped the bleeding and now it’s time to start the healing.”
Kagen said the government’s role in helping the economy recover is to create an environment that encourages businesses to create new jobs.
“The collapse of the housing market drove our economy into the Great Recession,” Kagen said. “Interest rates for homeowners should be about 4 percent. At 4 percent, families can afford to stay in their homes and buy the products that help local businesses remain in their communities.”
Kagen pointed to the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers.
“Home sales increased by 26 percent in our area,” Kagen said. “I’m focusing on legislation that will make it easier for homeowners to stay in their homes and for small businesses to have access to credit.”
He said the federal tax code should “treat small businesses on Main Street the way the previous administration treated their friends on Wall Street. I’ve been promoting low interest loans for small businesses and tax cuts for companies that expand their payrolls.”
One thing Kagen heard repeatedly from voters was their anger at Wall Street.
“People are saying, ‘We want our money back.’ They are angry and so am I. That’s why I voted against every bailout that came along,” Kagen said. “We have to break up the big banks. If they are too big to fail, then they should not exist.”