Congressmen: Economic Proposals Also Need Bipartisan Support

By MALIA RULON, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Improving the economy will take support from Democrats and Republicans like that given the war effort, members of Ohio's congressional delegation said in response to President Bush's State of the Union address.

"President Bush can depend on widespread support for his efforts against terrorism," Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown of Lorain said Tuesday. "We need to work in the same bipartisan fashion on domestic policy issues."

Brown said Congress needs to pass legislation to stimulate the economy by creating jobs and addressing the needs of unemployed workers -- instead of handing out "billions of dollars in tax breaks for corporations."

"This was a wartime president acting like a wartime president," said Republican Sen. Mike DeWine of Cedarville. "I thought what was noteworthy was his plea to Congress to deal with economic security the same way we did with the education bill -- in a bipartisan manner."

Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi said after his first State of the Union speech that if you judge Bush's performance by the number of times the GOP president was interrupted for applause, then "he definitely gets an A."

"I like that he called us to work together as Americans, not as Republicans and Democrats, but as Americans," said Tiberi of Columbus. "We certainly need to work together better on domestic issues."

Julie Wagner Feasel of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce said aid to large businesses should not be viewed negatively.

"In Ohio, anything that's done positively for business, for big business or small business, it trickles down," she said.

Republican Ralph Regula he was pleased the president reassured Americans he's not just focusing on terrorism but also on economic issues.

"The economic issues are where they live," said Regula, of Navarre. "People need to have confidence that we will get out of this downturn and we will get ahead."

In the midst of a national recession, Ohio has received plenty of economic bad news: the bankruptcy of Cleveland's LTV Steel, job cuts at Ford Motor Co.'s plant in Brook Park and the relocation of latex glove manufacturer Ansell Perry from Massillon, Ohio, to Asia.

"I want health care and steady pay checks," said Ron Gallitto, who last October lost his job with Steelcase Hauserman, which makes interior steel walls. "I understand it is very costly to fight a war, but we have problems in our own country."

Bush asked Congress to add nearly $50 billion to the Pentagon budget, the largest increase in military spending in 20 years, and double to $38 billion the money available for homeland security.

He also outlined his plans to revitalize America's economy, stressing the need for good schools, reliable and affordable energy, expanded trade and sound tax policy.

Earlier Tuesday, Cleveland Democrat Dennis Kucinich led about a dozen lawmakers in presenting an alternative State of the Union speech that highlighted pre-Sept. 11 domestic issues they say still must be addressed: higher-paying jobs, extended unemployment benefits and health care for the uninsured.

"Ordinary Americans are worse off today than they were a year ago," said Kucinich, who is chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Ohio lawmakers in Congress had pushed last year for an economic stimulus plan that would include extended unemployment benefits and provisions to help LTV to get a $250 million federal loan guarantee.

The economic stimulus bill was stalled in the Democratic-controlled Senate, despite intense lobbying by hundreds of Ohio steelworkers who camped outside Washington for a week in December.

Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo said the steel industry still needs Bush's attention. The president has until early March to decide what penalties to impose on foreign companies accused of dumping low-priced steel onto U.S. markets.

Dave Petrella, who used to run a crane outside of a blast furnace at LTV Steel, said he wished Bush would have spoken more to blue-collar workers who have seen their jobs disappear.

"I would have liked for him to have mentioned it," Petrella said. "He's got a ruling to make soon about tariffs, and I got no indication on which way he's going to go on that."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)