By Derek Spellman
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Dueling approaches to job creation and the stimulus have marked the midterm election race in Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District.
Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, of Topeka, is seeking a second term against Democratic opponent Cheryl Hudspeth, of Girard, and Libertarian nominee Robert Garrard, of Edgerton. The campaign for the Nov. 2 election in the eastern Kansas district has unfolded in a season of voter disenchantment with Washington and concerns about jobs in a tough economy.
Jenkins, who has called for efforts to rein in spending and reduce the ballooning deficit, told the Globe in a phone interview last week that control of the deficit and job creation are linked.
“I think it’s all connected,” she said. Much of the economic distress, she said, ties in with “massive deficits” at the federal level.
Jenkins has called for the extension of the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and in 2003, and for providing small businesses with a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income to spur job creation. The small-business tax deduction is a component of the Republican “A Pledge to America” unfurled last month.
Jenkins has criticized the federal stimulus bill.
“I think it has been a complete failure,” Jenkins said when asked if it was a matter of not saving any jobs at all or if the $787 billion measure simply didn’t provide taxpayers much bang for their buck. She pointed to the jobs lost during President Barack Obama’s administration.
Hudspeth has her own critique of the stimulus bill.
“It wasn’t big enough,” she said of the stimulus, which she has touted for making improvements to infrastructure.
Hudspeth’s job creation plan relies on public investment, an end to tax breaks for companies that create jobs overseas, and a national energy policy formed by a public-private partnership. She contends that the United States faces a competitive disadvantage compared with countries like Brazil and China, which have invested in their countries and in their infrastructure.
She acknowledged that her plan “probably” would entail deficit spending for the next couple of years, but she contended that the investment would pay for itself in the long run with the economic growth it generates.
“It pays for itself by growing the economy,” she said.
Hudspeth has espoused some of the arguments pushed by Democrats at the national level. She has criticized providing tax breaks for companies that create jobs overseas instead of inside the United States. She supports the extension of the tax cuts for the middle class but not for families earning more than $250,000 a year.
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