Economy is going to get worse, says Bright

Published 12:53 pm Monday, February 2, 2009

If you’re just now feeling the effects of a woeful economy, Congressmen Bobby Bright has a dire warning for you: It’s going to get worse.

Bright (D – Montgomery), who visited Greenville on Saturday for a special meet-and-greet breakfast at Shoney’s, said there is no quick fix to the nation’s economic situation.

“We’re going through some trying, controversial times,” said Bright.

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Bright represents the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Butler County.

Saturday’s meeting came on the heels of Bright’s decision to vote against the record $819 billion economic stimulus plan which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week. Bright said he was handed the 650-page document comprising the plan on Monday and was asked to vote on the measure Wednesday.

“That’s unrealistic,” said Bright. “”You’re going to have problems if you aren’t able to review a 650-page document.”

Bright said the bill that passed the house represented more of a “spending plan” then an intended stimulus plan. He criticized planned federal funding – subsequently dropped from the final bill – for everything from family planning programs to cosmetic upgrades like new sod on the National Mall.

The bill also disbursed federal funding over a period of two years to four years, said Bright.

“We need help now within 90 to 120 days,” he said. “We need new highways, hospitals and new schools…new infrastructure…that’s the type of stimulus plan we need. The plan we had before us was watered down and I could not support it.”

That said, Bright was pleased the plan included a bill he sponsored which would grant small businesses a tax break.

“90 percent of those companies that are currently laying off employees are the big corporations, while the small businesses are struggling to maintain employees,” he said.

The House-approved stimulus plan includes at least $3.5 billion for the 2nd Congressional District, said Bright.

“That sounds like a lot of money, but when you think about all of the cities and towns in the 2nd Congressional District it’s really not that much,” he said. “I’m for stabilizing our economy. But after we spend billions and billions of dollars we need to see something for it.”

As for his initial days in office, Bright said he was struck by the partisanship in Congress.

“That’s one of my biggest disappointments,” he said. “The Democrats sit on one side and the Republicans on the other. There is a tremendous wall in Washington D.C. right now.”