CEDAR RAPIDS – Now that the Obama administration has applied first aid to the nation’s economy, “it’s time to repair the patient,” according to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
The former Iowa governor will be in Cedar Rapids on Saturday for a roundtable discussion with business people at CSPS that is closed to the public. He will be promoting President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act and trade agreements. He said both will give businesses confidence to begin hiring and consumers confidence to begin spending.
Vilsack said the president’s $447 billion jobs plan and trade agreements will build on the uptick in the economy seen earlier this year.
“The debt ceiling debacle dampened confidence, so we need to get back that spring in our step, if you will,” Vilsack said by phone from New York.
“It will give consumers a little more cash in their pockets, give businesses a little bit more resource and by having infrastructure projects that put people back to work,” he said.
Like the president, Vilsack said Iowans recognize that small businesses are the drivers of job growth. He said Obama’s plan to cut the payroll tax in half to 3.1 percent will benefit 98 percent of the nation’s businesses, including 60,000 Iowa businesses. For a typical Iowa household with a median income of $51,000, expanding the payroll tax cut would increase take home pay about $30 a week, he said.
“That makes it easier to buy the appliance, the new technology or go out on a vacation — all of which helps stimulate the economy,” he said.
A major component of the plan is $50 billion in immediate investments for highways, transit, rail and aviation, helping to modernize an infrastructure that now receives a grade of “D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers. It will put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job, Vilsack said.
“I think Iowans really do understand the importance and necessity of improving the infrastructure,” Vilsack said.
The trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia that the president has sent to Congress also will benefit Iowa, which is the No. 3 agriculture-producing state in the nation, Vilsack said.
“It will mean hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity in Iowa,” Vilsack said.
For more on the American Jobs Act, click here.