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Congressman talks economy, Iraq in Waynesboro

Story by Chris Graham

Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte is trying to see the positive regarding recent economic news.
“This is the kind of news we need to hear with what is going on in the economy right now,” Goodlatte said while being briefed on recent successes at Clark Manufacturing facility in Waynesboro this morning, referencing talk of a pending economic recession that is already affecting markets in the United States and worldwide.

The Republican said after the tour that he expects economic-stimulus legislation that could include tax rebates for individuals and families and accelerated depreciations and other tax writeoffs for businesses aimed at spurring additional investment to be on the desk of President Bush in the next 30 days.

“The president and the Congress are very concerned, and a lot of economists are concerned, that we may be heading into a recession. So we are obviously talking in Washington right now about things that we can do to stimulate the economy,” Goodlatte said in an interview with reporters that is featured in today’s “Augusta Free Press Show.”

“One of those would be some measures that would encourage investment in manufactured goods, including things like this. Because, and I don’t know what they are for walk-in coolers, but there’s a depreciation schedule, and if you say that if you buy one in a particular period of time that you can accelerate your depreciation schedule, you might cause people to move up their investment schedules, which helps to create jobs,” Goodlatte said.

Goodlatte was noncommital when asked his thoughts on the tax rebates that have been proposed by the president as part of the stimulus package.

“That’s certainly something that we’re going to look at, too. I want to know what effect it’s going to have on the economy and on creating jobs – because that’s really where I think the government’s role should be played. And certainly the tax incentives will play a role in that. If there’s also some spending, we’ll look at that and see if the overall package makes sense,” Goodlatte said.

The congressman said he doesn’t feel that the ongoing uncertainty in the Middle East – and the billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money being spent in Iraq every month – is a root cause of the economic downturn that we are experiencing right now.

“Things have actually improved in the Middle East. Things have gotten better. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to stay that way. But I would not say that the uncertainty that we’re dealing with right now is primarily related to that,” Goodlatte said.

“In the near term, we want to see a reduction in the troops there, and we’re starting to see that now. And we would like to see that work out over the long term – that really depends on the Iraqis taking the responsibility for their own future. We’ve started to see more of that with their military. We need to see more of that with their political leaders, who have to make some tough decisions about oil distribution and political decentralization of the government so that the different religious and ethic factions, Shi’ites and Kurds and Sunnis, are not always at each others’ throats, but have the ability to run most of their government and local decisionmaking on a localized level,” Goodlatte said.
“All of those things are things that the adminisfration and Congress continue to be focused on and trying to bring that to a resolve,” Goodlatte said.

Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.

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