Jones: ‘No’ on jobs bill

Published 10:14 am Friday, August 13, 2010

Staff Writer

The $26 billion jobs bill signed into law by President Barack Obama is a measure “heading down the road to socialism,” U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., R-N.C., said at a stop in Washington on Thursday.
Jones said he was unable to return to Washington, D.C., recently for the jobs-bill vote because of prior commitments, including a doctor’s appointment and a speaking engagement in Beaufort.
The Farmville Republican voted against an earlier version of the bill as it cycled through the House, and he made it clear he would have voted the same way the second time around.
“To me, when you get government started to bail out a state government or a local government because they can’t balance the books, then I think you’re heading down the road of socialism,” he said. “Why do you need a state government or a local government if, when they can’t meet their responsibility, you start meeting it for them?”
With state and local governments facing revenue shortfalls because of the historic economic downturn, the Obama administration said the bill would save around 300,000 jobs in education, law enforcement and other key areas.
Asked whether he was concerned how local officials would perceive his position on the issue, Jones replied, “The way I look at this, I’m taking a … philosophical view of how I think government should run.”
Jones noted he did vote in favor of extending unemployment benefits for millions of Americans whose benefits either had expired or would have expired soon — an extension that some conservatives have derided as another form of “welfare.”
“I was one of 31 Republicans who did that,” he said of the vote. “I looked at that as I know too many people in this district — I know some of them well, some I don’t know at all — who have been looking for jobs. Most every one of them that I know had been with a company more than 10 years, and they lost their job.”
Jones also agreed with passing on hundreds of millions of federal dollars to states through the Federal Medicaid Assistance Program, a pot of funding on which state budget-writers and Gov. Beverly Perdue relied to aid them in producing a balanced budget.
“I would be in favor of helping the states with Medicaid because that’s a federal mandate,” he commented. “But these other things are teachers and fire and rescue. That’s not a federal mandate. That is a decision made by local people and the state to have teachers and to have policemen. I think that’s an overreach by the federal government.”
Jones represents parts of northern Beaufort County.
The congressman was invited to Washington Pediatrics to promote the Reach Out and Read program, which is touted as a public-private partnership providing reading materials to children.
Jones read a book he brought — “House Mouse, Senate Mouse,” by Peter W. and Cheryl Shaw Barnes — to a group of youths from three area day care centers.
The book follows the progress of a “national cheese” bill proposed by a group of mythical mouse-students.
“This is how we’re supposed to work together and make laws, and mice do a better job than we do, quite frankly — in the book at least,” Jones said.
Ginger Lagcher, a certified nursing assistant II with Washington Pediatrics, said Reach Out and Read is funded by area businesses and individuals, grants and scholarships.
Thanks to the program, Washington Pediatrics will give a book to each child from the ages of 6 months to 5 years every time he or she gets a checkup, Lagcher related.
“A lot of our children are (from) low-income families, and they do not get (a book) unless we give it to them,” she said.
Lagcher asked fellow readers to consider making donations to the program.
“We’re having a hard time with contributions because the economy’s in such bad shape,” she said.