Wellstone announces economic stimulation measures

Libby George

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., announced five measures for immediate economic stimulation at the State Capitol on Tuesday morning.

“There are things we can do right now to get the economy working for people again,” Wellstone said.

Among his measures were plans for “helping families pay for skyrocketing college expenses” by making the Hope tax credit – which provides tax breaks for middle-income families – refundable and removing the penalty for other financial aid such as Pell grants.

Saying a similar plan released Monday by Republican candidate Norm Coleman is too focused on tax breaks for businesses, Wellstone advocated greater corporate accountability among his measures.

“Closing the Bermuda tax loophole Ö corporations would be forced to pay their fair share of taxes, and we could make the investments and provide the tax credits necessary to make the economy work for people again,” Wellstone’s proposal says.

Coleman’s plan supports making recent tax cuts to individuals and corporations permanent and reducing corporate regulations.

“You cannot be pro-jobs and anti-business,” Coleman said.

Wellstone also supported job training for new workers, retraining for those who have been laid off and extending unemployment assistance and insurance.

“Expanding unemployment insurance will stimulate economic growth by putting money in the hands of those who will spend it on necessities,” the proposal says.

Wellstone’s proposal also includes raising the national minimum wage by $1.50 over three years to $6.65 per hour as a necessary step to ensure workers can afford basic needs.

“Minimum wage employees working full time fall $4,000 below the poverty line for a family of three,” the proposal says. “The current minimum wage fails to provide enough income to enable workers to afford basic needs.”

Wellstone was certain that his proposal would yield immediate economic benefits for Minnesotans.

“(The measures) may seem like simple things, but they can make a big difference in people’s lives, and we can get them done right now,” Wellstone said.

Libby George covers national politics and welcomes comments at [email protected]