Bipartisan lawmakers signal openness to second stimulus

Key lawmakers in both parties signaled some openness on Wednesday to a rumored second stimulus that would provide tax credits for job creation.

House Democrats seemed receptive to the idea of a jobs-focused stimulus package during a panel discussion on CNBC this morning, while Republicans in that discussion and in other media reports have not shut the door to the idea.

"I think it's a reasonable idea," Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), the chairman of the Capital Markets subcommittee, said. "I think we have to be pragmatic as to our response."

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), a member of the Joint Economic Committee, also praised the idea, provided that Congress include provisions to prevent fraudulent claims of the tax credit.

"I think we're going to have a combination of solutions," he said. "The tax credit you mentioned is a good idea as long as we're very careful in making sure there's no fraud there."

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said that the door is not closed to the jobs stimulus, and noted that economic stimuli are often done "piecemeal."

Republicans on the program stopped well short of criticizing the potential tax breaks, instead taking aim at new taxes contained in healthcare reform legislation before Congress.

"It's certainly a better idea than anything else we've seen out of the administration," Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said. "It doesn't necessarily mean that it would be the best idea. The best idea, ideally, would be to give permanent tax relief to the small businesses of America."

The Republicans' second-ranking leader, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), meanwhile suggested to The New York Times this morning that members of both parties could back such a jobs plan.

“There is a lot of traction for this kind of idea,” Cantor told the Times. “If the White House will take the lead on this, I’m fairly positive it would be welcomed in a bipartisan fashion.”

Update, 1:40 p.m.: Cantor's office contends that the Times mischaracterized the minority whip's words from the interview. Cantor, a spokesman said, was speaking about the general concept of the burden on small businesses to create jobs. Cantor welcomes the openness to tax credits, his office maintained, but believes this specific credit is "inefficient and cumbersome."