June 18, 2018
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Levesque, Michaud spar over roads spending

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

Second Congressional District challenger Jason Levesque thinks President Barack Obama’s plan to spend $50 billion on the nation’s roads, runways and railroads is yet another stimulus package that won’t work. His opponent, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, favors infrastructure spending, his campaign manager said Sunday.

A Republican telemarketing entrepreneur from Auburn, Levesque said he found further stimulus packages pointless.

“What are we on now, stimulus 3, 4? All this spending is not helping our economy; it is harming it even more,” Levesque said in a recent statement.

“The original stimulus package cost a trillion dollars, promised to create jobs and it has done nothing but put us in debt and creates a massive cloud of uncertainty for businesses who don’t know whether to grow or hunker down and wait for the next tax hike to pay for all this,” Levesque added. “We must stop spending or our economy will fail. That is not ‘fear mongering’ as some keep throwing around — that is true.”

Michaud, a four-term Democratic incumbent from East Millinocket, applauds the direction the Obama administration is pursuing with more infrastructure spending, but wants to see the plan before deciding whether to support it, said Greg Olson, Michaud’s campaign manager.

“Mike isn’t reflexively against infrastructure investment and the immediate job creation in the jobs sector that comes with that. That seems to be what Jason is doing,” Olson said Sunday. “I can’t imagine he [Jason] has even seen the details on this yet and how these details would affect Maine.”

The plan, which the president announced at a union-organized rally in Milwaukee on Sept. 6, is one of a series of economic proposals the White House released this week, including a far-reaching proposal that would allow businesses to write off 100 percent of new capital investment through the end of 2011.

The $50 billion infrastructure plan, Obama said Monday, would put construction workers back on the job and rebuild deteriorating infrastructure.

Levesque disagreed.

“We cannot spend our way out of a recession. Some will argue that this spending is good because it’s for roads and transportation costs. We are past those discussions,” Levesque said. “We simply do not have this money to spend.

“As a matter of fact, the money from the original stimulus isn’t even spent yet, so if this were so important to create jobs, why not just use that money for it?” he added. “Wasn’t that what Mike Michaud and others claimed that money was for?”

Levesque’s statements might seem to put Michaud in a difficult situation. Michaud voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and its $787 billion infusion into the economy, yet at the time expressed reservations about it that resurfaced during a campaign swing through Passadumkeag, Old Town and Bangor on Thursday.

Thursday, Michaud expressed dismay that about $275 billion of the act has been earmarked for projects but not spent, which he said he feared would happen at the time of his vote.

And Michaud expressed support for infrastructure spending, saying the federal government erred in allocating only 7 percent of the 2009 stimulus package for infrastructure improvements that average about 35,000 new jobs for every $1 billion spent — by far the biggest bang for the buck available.

A member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Michaud in July introduced the BUILD Act, which would provide states with an additional $65 billion to address transportation and infrastructure projects paid for through unspent Recovery Act funds, according to Michaud’s website, michaud.house.gov.

The state could see a boost of approximately $246 million through the BUILD Act, the site states. The bill is under review in the Senate.

Levesque said he finds the talk about more infrastructure spending unmoving.

“I have to ask, why propose this now? It’s election season. Let’s make no mistake about it — our leaders want to spend $50 billion to save their political careers. This is a PR stunt on the backs of taxpayers,” Levesque said, “but taxpayers are paying for it … so they aren’t buying it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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