Hoyer Signals Flexibility Over Offsetting Spending on Jobs

Posted December 1, 2009 at 1:14pm

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) doesn’t want to offset new spending aimed at boosting employment with revenue increases until the economy stops shedding jobs.Hoyer, a steadfast defender of pay-as-you-go budgeting, signaled he could support waiving that standard for new spending projects that House Democrats are eyeing for their jobs package. A shrinking unemployment rate “will be the test of whether or not we can, I think, determine that we’re in a position now where we can start making sure we pay for things without depressing the economy,— he told reporters Tuesday at his weekly roundtable.Democratic leaders are still considering a wide range of provisions for the jobs package — and a number of scenarios for enacting them. Part of their challenge is striking a balance between a package big enough to pack a punch and one so large it opens the party up to new criticism about deficit spending.Before the end of the year, House Democrats want to at least pass extensions of unemployment insurance and health care benefits for the unemployed that expire this month.Less clear is whether that measure will include other items on the Democratic wish list. Hoyer suggested Tuesday that leaders might punt a bigger jobs package into next year. “We need to work on this, make sure we have it right, make sure we think it will be effective. And if we adopt it in the next two or three weeks or we adopt it in January, we need to make sure it will work,— he said.Among the items on the menu, according to the No. 2 House Democrat, are infrastructure projects, assistance to the states, public jobs spending, a jobs tax credit and an investment tax credit for small businesses. Democratic leaders are set to huddle on the issue this evening, and the full Democratic Caucus will discuss it later Tuesday night at their weekly meeting.