By Meghashyam Mali - 09/01/12 10:15 AM EDT
GOP Rep. Steve Scalise (La.) on Saturday discussed the damage caused by Hurricane Isaac and thanked Americans for their support in the aftermath of the devastating storm.
“Please keep those good thoughts and prayers coming,” said Scalise, whose New Orleans area district was battered by Isaac this week.
Scalise said that while the worst of the storm’s effects had passed, many residents were still without power and were threatened by flooding.
“I’ve seen some of the damage from Hurricane Isaac firsthand, and I’ve spoken directly to local officials on the ground,” he said. “Hundreds of thousands still remain without power, and the threat of flooding continues throughout southeast Louisiana. We’re not out of the woods just yet, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Isaac, which delayed last week’s GOP convention in Tampa hit the Gulf coast and has been blamed for four deaths.
President Obama signed a disaster declaration for Louisiana, making federal relief funds available and is slated to visit the state on Monday.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife Ann joined Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on Friday to tour damaged areas around New Orleans.
Scalise also urged his fellow lawmakers and the Obama administration to enact further measures to boost job growth and aid small businesses, touting the House GOP’s jobs growth proposals.
“One way we keep the American Dream alive, of course, is by building a strong, vibrant economy that promotes freedom and fosters private-sector jobs and opportunities,” he said.
“All of these jobs bills are important, but one worth highlighting this Labor Day is our proposal to stop the tax hike on small businesses scheduled to take effect just months from now on New Year’s Day,” he continued. “That’s a blow our small businesses just can't afford to take.”
Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed concerns about the impending “fiscal cliff” of spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect in the new year, but both sides are at an impasse over how to avert what economists warn could be a severe blow to the recovery.
Scalise cited a study from accounting firm Ernst & Young which says the expiration of the President George W. Bush-era tax rates in 2013 would cost the economy 700,000 jobs.
“The House has acted to stop this tax hike, so the critical test now is whether the Democratic-run Senate will act to do the same. We sure hope they will, and in short order,” he said.
Both the House and Senate have approved competing measures on the expiring tax rates, with Senate Democrats backing an extension of the rates for those earning up to $250,000 a year. Democrats, led by President Obama, say wealthier taxpayers need to pay their “fair share.”
House Republicans, however, have approved legislation which would extend the rates across-the-board, a plan Obama has pledged to veto.
“For millions of Americans, this Labor Day finds them still looking for work and still asking ‘where are the jobs?’ It doesn’t have to be this way, and we can turn it around, because in America it’s times of adversity that bring out the best in us,” said Scalise.