Republican Senator Crapo Terms Obama Jobs Plan Discouraging, Unaffordable

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo called President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs proposal discouraging, saying the administration is relying on unaffordable spending initiatives rather than the more fundamental policy changes needed to battle unemployment.

Crapo said that while he supports Obama’s push to expand a payroll tax break set to expire at year’s end, the president’s other proposals such as providing more aid to state governments will only make it harder for Congress’s recently created supercommittee to reduce the federal deficit. He also said he doesn’t think added the administration takes seriously the issue of overhauling government regulations.

Crapo, an Idaho Republican, served on the administration’s debt commission last year and also was a member of the “Gang of Six” senators who supported bipartisan deficit reduction.

Obama “continues to look at temporary solutions that are very expensive -- he continues to try to spend our way into a prosperous economy,” Crapo, 60, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s ‘Political Capital with Al Hunt’ airing this weekend. “I interpreted his remarks about regulatory reform to be pretty much ‘No, we’re not going to do it.’”

“That’s one of the biggest problems we face right now with uncertainty in the economy and the business world,” Crapo said.

‘Fundamental Reform’

He said expanding a payroll tax break is “something that can be helpful in the small business arena and, frankly, with individuals as they deal with incredible troubles right now.” Still, he said, it isn’t the sort of “fundamental reform of our tax code and our economic policy that we really need.”

Crapo said it’s “hard to see” how the supercommittee will be able to strike a deal on the budget after the failure of “so many” previous attempts for a grand bargain on the issue.

He termed the price tag for Obama’s jobs plan discouraging because the president “appears to be saying that if we meet the minimum target of about $2 trillion or $2.5 trillion” -- the 10-year budget-cut target lawmakers agreed to last month as part of a deal to raise the government’s debt limit -- “then we can start spending again.” Lawmakers really need to cut $4 trillion or $5 trillion over the next decade “before we can really just keep our head above water,” Crapo said.

Crapo has broken with other Republicans on revenue increases, saying they are necessary to reduce the deficit. “You really do” have to deal with both sides of the budget ledger, he said in the interview.

He declined to criticize Republican presidential candidates who rejected a theoretical deal to cut $10 in federal spending for every $1 in tax increases, saying instead they should have focused on pushing broader tax overhaul.

‘Ultimate Solution’

“I was not disappointed in the sense they were all holding firm on saying not raising taxes, but I was disappointed that they didn’t focus the debate on the kind of tax reform that will generate greater tax revenue -- and that’s what I believe is going to be the ultimate solution.”

Crapo hasn’t endorsed any candidate, saying he is waiting to see who has the best chance of defeating Obama in November of next year. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney may be a “little more electable” than the frontrunner in Republican polls, Texas Governor Rick Perry, “but I don’t know, and frankly I have to say I don’t know Perry very well,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Faler in Washington at 1919 or bfaler@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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