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Walz vists Luverne; talks economy

Rep. Tim Walz1 / 2
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LUVERNE -- "The economy is on a crisis not seen since the Great Depression. Credit is frozen, consumer purchasing power is in decline. In the last four months the country has lost 2 million jobs and we are expected to lose another 3 to 5 million in the next year."

So reads the first few lines in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Legislative Summary, handed out by Rep. Tim Walz's staff during a stop in Luverne on Friday afternoon.

Walz had stopped to gather questions to take back to Washington D.C., about the proposed bill, which is supposed to be voted on in the next two weeks.

"How we implement this is going to determine its success," Walz stated.

Walz touted the reasons to be optimistic about the economy and the reinvestment act, telling the city and county leaders and citizens in the room they are all blessed to live in the area they do. He praised the hearts of Americans, stating that when times get challenging, Americans work together for the common good to "come out the other side."

The reinvestment act is being hailed as the "first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century..."

The plan will reportedly create jobs and reinvest in the future of the U.S. by rebuilding infrastructure from bridges to broadband, make the healthcare system more efficient and cost-effective, modernize schools and invest in a cleaner, more efficient energy future.

"It will take $2 trillion to make this thing work," Walz stated, adding that the bill is not yet complete and many details have yet to be determined. He admitted there is too much in the bill, and believes some parts of it will work and some will not.

Walz's staff had forms available for the summary of project ideas -- projects that could create jobs and keep people working.

The tax cuts in the bill could save the average working family about $1,000 in taxes a year, Walz said. But the bill is a measure being taken to stabilize, not fix, the economy, he continued, adding that Congress is in a hurry to get it passed and out the door.

"President Obama wants to sign it on Feb. 15 and have the checks go out the door seven days later," Walz said. "... It's going to pass. You might not like that, but it's going to."

Many of the requirements for projects are undefined at this point, and Walz conceded that there seems to be more questions than answers -- and the Senate hasn't even started discussing the bill. But Walz said the act is the catalyst needed to go forward -- even if it is not exactly what he wanted.

"If I had my choice, this bill would not look like this," he admitted.

Walz said he doesn't like the deficit spending that will have to take place, calling it a "bitter pill to swallow," but acknowledged there is no other way.

"I hate it; I think it's wrong," he stated emphatically. "But we are going to have to operate on deficit spending for the next couple of years. ... I think we're going to run a deficit for the next decade."

He asked those present to ask questions about the bill and the projects. Walz's plan is to bring the questions back to Congress and help get details hammered out.

"The devil is in the details," he explained.

Some of those details include how the money is doled out to states and regions, which projects are funded, and what the exact definition of a "shovel-ready" project entails.