Priority one for Upton: jobs and the economy

Published 11:08 pm Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Niles Daily Star

Fred Upton has been as close to a sure thing that there is in Michigan politics for the past several years, having held his 6th District congressional seat for 12 straight terms.

If elected to another term, the 57-year-old congressman says he will continue to keep his focus on improving Michigan’s struggling economy.

His main competition, Democrat Don Cooney, has also pledged to help turnaround the economy. But that’s where their similarities end, for the most part.

Cooney and Upton have vastly different views on the best methods of repairing the economy.

While Cooney supports President Obama’s stimulus spending and would even like to see it expanded, Upton believes spending needs to be drastically cut and the tax cuts extended.

“We’ve got to get a handle on this spending,” he said in a recent interview with the Star. “We need to balance the budget without raising taxes.”

According to Upton, extending the tax cuts, put in place by former President George W. Bush and set to expire at the end of the year, is crucial for the state of Michigan and would be a priority if re-elected.

“In the last three years, we’ve lost one in five manufacturing jobs. Almost half of those jobs come from Michigan,” Upton said. “So that’s why it’s so important. Our state has been hit harder than just about any other.”

He has been critical of the stimulus act since the beginning.

“It’s $800 billion,” he said. “We were promised unemployment wouldn’t exceed 8 percent. In fact, it did. We lost about 3.5 million jobs since the enactment of it. I’d say most people when they’re asked did it really help or not, they say no.”

Upton wants to see more private sector jobs, rather than the government jobs created by stimulus dollars.

“That’s how you grow the economy,” he said.

An area where Cooney and Upton do see eye to eye is focusing on alternative energy sources.

“Before the end of the decade, we’re going to need 30-40 percent more electricity than we use today,” said Upton, who is the top Republican on the Energy and Environment subcommittee.

Specifically, Upton would like to see development of clean coal technology, green energy and nuclear power.

“I look here at Berrien County and our largest tax payer is the Cook Plant,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be nice to add another reactor and the thousands of people that will go with it?”

Upton has debated Cooney three times with broadcasts of two of them available at and Third party candidates for the seat include Libertarian Fred Strand, U.S. Taxpayer candidate Mel Valkner and Green Party candidate Pat Foster.

Read last Tuesday’s Star for a feature story on Cooney.