U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler said Wednesday that he supports President Barack Obama's $447 billion jobs plan, although the Republican-led House is not expected to vote on the plan soon, if ever.
Chandler, D-Versailles, said he approves of the plan's mix of payroll tax cuts for businesses, infrastructure spending and aid to local governments to avert the layoffs of teachers and emergency workers. He said the plan would offer $1,330 in tax relief to a typical Kentucky household and save or create 12,000 jobs in the state.
"There is no time to waste," Chandler said in a prepared statement. "Congress must act now to create jobs, strengthen our middle class and expand our economy."
Chandler, who is expected to face a tough re-election battle in 2012, did not return calls seeking comment.
His statement Wednesday was much stronger than his comments after Obama presented the plan to Congress last month. At the time, Chandler said he was "pleased" the president was focused on creating jobs.
Obama has called on a 12-member debt reduction "super committee" to find a way to pay for his jobs plan. Failing that, the Democratic president proposed higher taxes on the oil and gas industry and family incomes of more than $250,000.
Andy Barr, a Republican challenging Chandler in next year's election, on Wednesday said "the Obama-Chandler strategy" is simply more government interference in the marketplace. Barr, a Lexington lawyer, lost to Chandler last year by 648 votes.
"This is Congressman Chandler continuing to support the president's failed economic agenda," Barr said. "But none of it addresses the cause of our economic malaise, and that is, the government is in the way. It's creating uncertainty in the market about taxes, regulations and debt. We need to get the government out of the way."
Barr said he agreed with the plan's call for payroll tax cuts, but not if they were temporary and not if the trade-off was permanent tax increases in other areas.
Chandler's support for Obama on Wednesday continues his strategy of tacking across the political spectrum from issue to issue.
Chandler voted for the $787 billion federal stimulus package that Obama wanted in 2009. But he voted against Obama's health care and banking reform laws; he said he didn't think they would accomplish what Obama intended.
Last month, taking a page from the Republican Party's playbook, Chandler wrote an opinion piece for the Herald-Leader criticizing some federal regulations for being "frivolous and overly burdensome." Chandler said he was heading a committee of conservative Blue Dog Democrats responsible for suggesting the elimination of some regulations.
"The federal government needs to take a long, hard look at its regulations and weed out any that are unnecessary or burdensome. If we are serious about putting Americans back to work and getting our spending under control, it is time to cut the fat and make the government more efficient," Chandler wrote.