(Host) Congressman Peter Welch supports a second economic stimulus package now under consideration in Washington. But Welch says the plan must include help for low income people to pay their fuel bills.
VPR’s John Dillon reports:
(Dillon) The US House may soon debate a $50 billion stimulus plan to boost the sagging economy. A plan Congress passed earlier this year included tax rebates and $600 checks to most people who pay taxes.
Welch said it’s sound economic policy to get money out to the public to encourage consumer spending.
(Welch) But there is a limit on how much you can do. And frankly my focus on checks is much more about helping people pay their heating bill, because you’re seeing that people who got heating assistance last year, the cost of that has doubled. And many more families who never dreamed that they would need heating assistance can’t afford it at $5 bucks a gallon. So if we’re going to get some money out, my first focus is on helping people with their heating check.
(Host) Welch has called for doubling federal spending on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program, or LIHEAP. He said that representatives from other states must recognize the home heating emergency facing the Northeast.
(Welch) This is a really urgent problem, and frankly, it’s our category five storm. So I’m not making predictions, I’m just using every ounce of energy I have to take our situation with the same seriousness as we took the flooding in Iowa, that we took the hurricane in New Orleans.
(Dillon) Welch says the stimulus package should also include money to help states with road and bridge repair, and an increase in federal Medicaid spending.