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Feb 18, 2009 9:28 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Bishop touts economic stimulus package

Feb 18, 2009 9:28 AM

President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion economic stimulus package into law Tuesday despite criticism that the plan included unnecessary spending and could cause more harm than good.

“I think it’s important for people to understand what we did,” U.S. Representative Tim Bishop of Southampton said Monday, in defense of the stimulus package. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there. There’s a lot of efforts to cut away at it by creating, in effect, false realities and then criticizing those realities.”

Mr. Bishop said the plan will achieve all its goals—putting people back to work, stimulating spending, keeping people in their homes and encouraging lending—and put the economy back on course.

“If we can jump-start the economy and jump-start lending, people are going to once again be looking to the future with confidence,” Mr. Bishop said. “They’re going to be building homes, they’re going to be making investments in what they already own. That’s going to have a trickle-down effect that’s going to keep the South Fork relatively stable.”

The congressman sat down on Monday in Westhampton Beach with Janet Downs of East Moriches, Kevin Combs of Eastport, and a reporter to explain why he voted for the stimulus package and outline the benefits he sees coming to the country—and the East End of Long Island.

“Behind every economic statistic there’s a human story. Here are two of them,” Mr. Bishop said referring to Ms. Downs, who was recently laid off from the non-profit Literacy Suffolk, and Mr. Combs, a member of Road and Heavy Construction Laborers’ Union Local 1298.

“The big story is $787 billion,” the congressman continued. “The little story are two people right here, our neighbors, people who could easily live next door to any one of us, who are trying to provide for their families, trying to make a living, and because the economy is as bad as it is, can’t.”

Ms. Downs was the communications director for Literacy Suffolk in Bellport, an adult literacy organization. She said county funding for Literacy Suffolk was stricken completely due to the economic downturn, and she was let go.

Mr. Combs’s union has been suffering because municipalities have put off road projects that they cannot afford right now. “The work’s just been getting slow,” he said. “You can see out there, everything’s dying.”

The economic stimulus will put laborers like Mr. Combs back to work, according to Mr. Bishop.

“New York is going to get about $1.1 billion over the next two years for infrastructure improvements, and Long Island is slated to get somewhere in the neighborhood of $140 to $150 million of that,” he said.

The New York State Department of Transportation had initially planned to use $81.4 million of Long Island’s share of the funds for two projects, upgrades to Route 110 and Route 112. But Mr. Bishop spearheaded a protest by the Long Island Congressional Delegation because the Department of Transportation had previously earmarked money to those two projects. Now, Long Island could receive both the $140 million or so from the stimulus package and the $81.4 million from the state, he said.

Mr. Bishop said the point is to create as many jobs on Long Island as possible with as many projects as possible. He pointed out that under normal circumstances, 40 percent of road and heavy construction laborers on Long Island are out of work in January and February. But he said that this winter, 80 percent are sitting at home. “So clearly, we need to put people to work,” he said.

On the South Fork, where the economy is tied to the second-home industry, the stimulus is vital, Mr. Bishop added.

“I have a friend that owns a deli, and he’s selling 75 fewer lunches a day,” he said. “And that’s because there are fewer carpenters and plumbers and electricians and landscapers coming out here to work on homes out on the East End of Long Island.”

But how much money from the stimulus package will ultimately flow to the East End is still unclear, Mr. Bishop said. He said state leaders will make that decision.

Mr. Bishop said he tried, but failed, to put through amendments to the stimulus plan that would grant even more money to the Army Corps of Engineers, which recently dredged the Moriches Inlet, and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which funds wastewater management projects across the country. Dredging and wastewater projects are proven job creators that also have a community benefit, he said.

The stimulus plan also extends unemployment benefits, Mr. Bishop noted. The state offers 26 weeks of unemployment benefits and, under the stimulus plan, the federal government will add 33 weeks. “So, someone could receive unemployment compensation for a little over a year,” he said.

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Sally Pope just commented in another newspaper that SHARC should be in the stimulas package. What a dumb idea-we did without the pool for the last 20 years, we can certainly wait until the economy gets better. Lets use the money where it is really needed.
By Lefty46 (56), Westhampton on Feb 18, 09 4:59 PM
Senator,I am surprised at you. Instead of feeling sorry for all the electricians,plumbers,and construction workers from upisland who can no longer find work out here, what about all the people who live here who can not find work here? At this point we can't afford to live here and, we can't afford to leave either.
By local (106), north sea on Feb 18, 09 9:40 PM
Bishop is a yes man, nothing more
By typical (63), southampton on Feb 18, 09 10:58 PM
This will work just as good as the bank bailout. Bring on inflation!
By TheGoodLife (43), Westhampton Beach on Feb 19, 09 6:26 AM
OH hogwash... like the amount we might receive will stimulate anything but the pockets of the utility company's. It's nothing but a wee little gasp of air instead of a big breath to stay alive.....Its a slow death for some of us...Pay the taxes or buy food for the children. Bishop you met with me a couple of years ago, asked for copies of my paperwork I brought with me, I gave them to you, promising me you would do something about the Child Support System. Never heard from you again. You had all ...more
By birdyblue6 (3), sag harbor on Feb 19, 09 9:37 AM
"But how much money from the stimulus package will ultimately flow to the East End is still unclear, Mr. Bishop said"

Oh, but wait a minute...a few lines before TIm stated that the stimulus bill will actually put the construction guy back to work!? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

he takes us for fools.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Feb 19, 09 11:19 AM
It is amazing how Congressman Bishop can say all this about a stimulus package that was put together behind closed doors by 10 Congressmen, presented to Congress who voted on with out ever reading it!!! Congressman Bishop must be telepathic too!!
By bayview (160), Southampton on Feb 19, 09 11:37 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Feb 19, 09 12:12 PM
When there is nothing else to do, why not take a leap of faithand TRUST the people that our country and community have elected and re-elected into office!! No one cares about the Easy End more than Tim Bishop,
By wondering (63), Southampton on Feb 20, 09 6:23 AM
Tim Bishop care?? since when ?? lol .I have tears running down my face from laughing so hard..the only thing he cares about is keeping his job, he could care less, he laughs at us defending him all the way to the bank
By typical (63), southampton on Feb 21, 09 8:24 AM
Tim Bishop is right on in his support of the president's stimulus package. This money will help every day Americans and it is about time we had a congress and a president who cared about the disappearing middle class. To bayview, stop believing the republican propaganda. By the comments posted here we can assume that a number of people are still devastated by their parties huge losses. Let's not forget who destroyed this economy in the first place, shall we.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Feb 23, 09 5:34 PM
there's $10 billion in the package for libraries and $25 billion for building broadband internet. let's get some of that funding.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Feb 24, 09 3:36 AM
there's a ton of funding in the stimulus package for education construction. let's put some of that into the new Southampton campus of SUNY Stony Brook. The upgrade in facilities would create a permanent positive effect for the area--a world class institution of higher education brings in positive educated people, both as students and staff.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Feb 24, 09 3:44 AM
I can't understand some of the negative commentary about Tim Bishop. I guess a lot of Rush Limbaugh dittoheads read the Southampton Press, too. First, education, infrastructure, healthcare, stabilization and environmental money will make its way to the east end. Second, economists from the left and the right have supported this stimulus bill as absolutely necesary. Many economists tell us we're in a crisis not seen since the depression. The spending power from consumers and business has fallen ...more
By number19 (111), Westhampton on Feb 24, 09 6:54 AM
Let me see if I've got this straight. Some of the complaints I'm reading here are because Congressman Tim Bishop voted to try to reverse so much of the damage that was done to our economy is the past 8 Republican years.

So, instead of supporting the stimulus package these oppositionists would rather use the same old failed techniques like giving tax cuts to the wealthy. Now that makes real sense! Remember the definition of insanity that was attributed to Albert Einstein "Insanity: doing ...more
By foodie (74), Remsenburg on Feb 24, 09 10:35 AM
And while we're at it, where were all these suddenly "fiscally responsible" dittoheads when President Stupid was lowering taxes while waging TWO wars? Morons.
By Undertow (64), Southampton on Feb 24, 09 9:54 PM
Despite the baseless, knee-jerk opposition, Tim Bishop soldiers on for us, as voters know, though not all the commentators know it. "Local", even if all the workers here were from up island, which they aren't, you overlook the 75 lunches the article says they buy from the local deli. "Lefty46", Sally Pope is right to suggest that stimulus funds be used for SHARC; the whole idea of the stimulus is to make the economy improve by investing in beneficial projects. "Hamptons surfer", it's not inconsistent ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 24, 09 10:41 PM