Senior House Democrats Say Economy Needs a Double Dose of Stimulus

Posted January 18, 2008 at 11:13am

Two high-ranking House Democrats said Thursday that Congress should pass not one but two economic stimulus packages before the November elections.

In an interview taped for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that will air Sunday, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said he does not think the short-term stimulus package that Congressional leaders currently are trying to move will be enough to reinvigorate the sluggish economy.

“We’re going to do, hopefully within the next 30 to 45 days, a stimulus package that hopefully will get us moving in the right direction. I don’t think we’re going to be able to sustain that with that one package,” Clyburn said. “I feel deep down inside that there’s going to have to be a second package. I think we’re going to have to do something on the back end of this that will show that we can sustain a movement.”

Clyburn gave the answer in response to a question about whether South Carolina could realistically be in play for Democrats in the presidential election, a strong indication that party leaders may be looking to use debate over a second package as an issue in the fall campaigns.

South Carolina has not voted for a Democrat in a presidential election since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

“If [the stimulus legislation] does not happen between now and the elections in November, then I could see South Carolina coming back to the Democratic Party,” he said.

House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Thursday that he also believes economic stimulus must be implemented in a two-part package.

“That’s exactly right,” Frank said, noting that he has informed his colleagues of the need for a multi-stage stimulus.

Frank acknowledged that current discussions over a short-term measure that may include expanded unemployment benefits and rebates to federal taxpayers — and which House leaders have suggested could be implemented in as few as 30 days — could be easier to complete. “That’s where the parties can come together,” he said.

The Massachusetts lawmaker said he expects a second-stage stimulus package would focus on public works and infrastructure spending.

“There’ll be a major infrastructure stimulus in part two,” he said.

But House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) downplayed plans for longer-term stimulus legislation, suggesting that Congressional lawmakers will address the issue based on future economic conditions.

“It doesn’t mean we won’t be going back without the restrictions of timely, temporary and targeted,” Rangel said. He later added: “If there are other things we could do, depending on the state of the economy we could do it.”