Welch: Second economic stimulus package is critical

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(Host) Congressman Peter Welch says it’s critical for Congress to pass a second economic stimulus package later this month.

Welch says an increase in the national unemployment rate shows why it’s necessary to act quickly.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel)Congress will return to Washington for a special lame duck session on Monday November 17th and the passage of a second stimulus package will be the top item on the agenda.

Speaking on VPRs Vermont Edition, Welch says the issue has taken on more urgency with the announcement that the national unemployment rate has hit 6.5 % – its highest level in 14 years:

(Welch) "We are facing I believe the most significant economic downturn since the Depression it’s something that none of us have seen before it looks like it could well be a very deep and long recession…so there is a consensus at least on the recession elements among economists across the board liberal and conservative that a moment like this government spending on a stimulus package is important as a step to try to begin working our way out of a recession."

Welch says it’s likely that Congress will approach the stimulus issue as a two step process. The first step will be the passage of an infrastructure plan in the lame duck session – this would be followed by a larger initiative in January:

(Welch) "What the goal of a stimulus package is is to put money to work create jobs and start stimulating the economy and the focus of the stimulus immediately I think would be on infrastructure roads and bridges as I know the state of Vermont does have some on the shelf projects that would be ready to go."

Meanwhile, Senator Bernie Sanders says he thinks the nation’s economic needs are so great that Congress needs to pass a massive stimulus bill right now.

Sanders is backing a $300 billion package that would create jobs in transportation, construction, energy and health care:

(Sanders)"Given the economic crisis that we face, I think we’ve got to move boldly and I believe we’ve got to move as quickly as we possibly can."

Sanders says he’s also very concerned about the rise in the nation’s unemployment rate:

(Sanders) "We are looking at about 17 million Americans who are jobless or unable to find the full-time unemployment that they want…That is a shocking and very frightening number."

Both Sanders and Welch are working to include a variety of renewable energy projects in the upcoming stimulus plan.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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