Young: Embrace federal education money

Congressman voted against entire stimulus package

Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009

KETCHIKAN - U.S. Rep. Don Young voted against the federal economic stimulus package and vowed not to comment when Gov. Sarah Palin announced she would not accept all of the money available to Alaska.

But if he were in her shoes, he would not reject education money, he said Monday in wide-ranging comments to constituents in Ketchikan.

"It is one investment we ought to really consider, because it is an investment for the future," Young said.

The 19-term representative spoke to the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce, met with municipal official and visited Ketchikan General Hospital.

Young said Palin called him and said she was not going to accept all of the stimulus money.

"I said, 'Governor, you're the governor. I will not comment. And I will neither criticize,"' Young said. "And then she told me, 'I am going to reject the education money.' And I went (long pause), 'You're the governor."

Young said he could not really say anything because he had voted against the entire package.

"But I'll tell you quite honestly for someone that knows politics as well as I do, I simply would not ever reject the education money," said Young, a former teacher.

Palin last month announced she would not accept about 30 percent of the stimulus funds, saying the short-term funding would force the state into long-term budget growth and require policy changes detrimental to the state. A day later, after strong criticism, her staff said she was not rejecting the money and that her intent was to start a public discussion of whether to take it.

Besides opposing the $780 billion-plus economic stimulus plan, Young voted against the banking bailouts. Both measures ignore the U.S. Constitution and gives the power of the purse to the president.

"The president has no right to tax or spend money, only the Congress has that right," Young said. "And we've sort of given that right away."

Americans also have gotten caught up in the idea that the federal government can do everything, Young said. He noted the emerging concept of demanding rights without accepting responsibilities, and pointed to the home mortgage crisis as an example.

"We started lending money with people who had no jobs, to own a home," he said. "It's their right to own a house. That's not really what it's all about. It's no one's right to own anything, until you earn it."

Young said he is not confident that just spending money will solve the economic problem.

"You cannot ignore the fact that until we start ... creating and producing jobs that create something that you can see, not just paperwork, then we have a challenge to reinstate the economy in this nation," Young said.

Cheap energy is crucial for improving production in the United States, Young said. He supports all types of energy, he said, and fossil fuels will continue to be an integral part of the mix. Alaska should develop and stick with a plan for its energy resources.

"Investment in energy, that is the legacy that can help our state grow," Young said.

Hydroelectric power is key in southeast Alaska, he said.

"The hydro thing is something that is close to my heart," he said. "It's silly to be burning diesel anywhere in southeast Alaska."

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