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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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By Hannah Marr, News Editor • June 21, 2024

Alaskan Senator talks economy with the College Democrats

Self-described fiscal conservative Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, broke party ranks Tuesday to disagree with President Barack Obama’s $50 billion stimulus package proposal.

Begich, who won his Senate seat in 2008 after beating the now deceased Sen. Ted Stevens, said he instead supports a six-year $60 billion stimulus package to upgrade the country’s infrastructure.

“The most important thing the government can do is build infrastructure,” Begich said at an event sponsored by the College Democrats in Funger Hall. “Fifty billion is very small in its larger sense. The six-year highway plan makes more sense to me.”

Obama’s proposal, announced last Monday during a speech in Milwaukee, seeks to rebuild infrastructure with an initial $50 billion investment and new business tax cuts.

Begich amended his plan however, saying it should go forward only if the government has enough money to fund the economic boost.

“I support pay-go legislation,” Begich said, referring to pay-as-you-go budget rules.

These rules, enacted in the Senate last January, require the body to pay for proposals to increase spending on the most expensive federal programs by cutting spending elsewhere in the government or by raising taxes.

Begich acknowledged that many Americans view the Senate as unproductive, but said for the body to get things done, it’s important for both political parties to meet in the middle.

“People have views that are very conservative, but there’s a common thread and maybe there’s no simple answer, but you can work through it,” Begich said. “As long as you’re patient and tolerant you can work through it.”

Discussing the midterm elections, Begich named the economy and the federal budget as key issues that would carry the most weight come November.

Begich said he would also like to see the nation’s energy policy brought to the forefront alongside the economy, as energy is “good for the economy and good for national security.”

“The faster we improve our energy policy the more it will help build our economy,” he said. He also expressed a need to “get off foreign oil, [and] concentrate on clean energy.”

After the event, freshman Oscar Wang said he was impressed by “how down-to-earth and humble [Begich] was about his job.”

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