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Northwest lawmakers adhere to party lines

Northwest Republicans criticized President Obama’s proposed jobs bill as too much that’s been tried before and not enough that will bring long-term changes.

Washington Democrats, meanwhile, said the request to put politics aside was overdue.

“It was a powerful speech, but I was disappointed by it,” said Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho. “It really did not do much but put together short-term fixes.”

Some proposals like extending unemployment payments and payroll tax cuts probably have broad support, Crapo said. But the spending proposals will hurt efforts to cut the deficit that were started in the compromise over the debt ceiling.

“If the president will come to Congress and work with Congress on a much stronger, bolder plan … this could be a foundation for long-term reform,” Idaho’s senior Republican said. “But it didn’t appear to me he was in much of a negotiating mood.”

Obama’s call for a special committee to find additional budget cuts to pay for his programs could make work harder for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who is the co-chairwoman of that panel. But Murray said in a statement that putting people back to work is essential to the economic outlook.

“There may be no greater deficit reducer than a growing economy that puts money back in the pockets of struggling Americans,” Murray said.

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said he was extremely optimistic when Obama started the speech by saying economic recovery won’t come from the government but from business, but lost that feeling when the president proposed more spending programs. He’ll likely support programs that would help hire veterans, but believes tax credits for hiring people who’ve been unemployed for more than six months won’t add many jobs.

It may help on the margins, with businesses on the verge of hiring. “I really don’t think that’s the rule, but the exception,” Risch said.

The call for less regulation is absolutely needed, but the federal government added more than 1,200 new regulations in the last two months, he said. “I’m cynical and skeptical as to whether that’s going to get done.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said federal regulations are making it impossible for some projects to move forward, and Obama’s speech didn’t do enough to address that. She, too, wonders how the federal government will pay for some of his proposals.

“I like the idea of addressing tax reform. We have one of the most complicated, costly tax codes ever,” McMorris Rodgers said. “I agree that doing nothing is not an option. I do hope we can work together.”

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