U.S. Rep. John Spratt told a group of seniors Wednesday that he could support a small, targeted spending bill that speeds up highway construction projects.
Describing it as a way to jump-start the economy and put people back to work, Spratt emphasized that such a measure would accelerate projects already on the books rather than add new ones.
The York Democrat was responding to a question about the potential for a second stimulus package to invigorate the shaky economy.
President Barack Obama has called for the creation of a $50 billion infrastructure bank to improve roads, airports and railways. Supporters say action is needed to spark business activity and create construction jobs.
Spratt spoke to 60 seniors at Park Pointe Village, a retirement community in Rock Hill off S.C. 5 near Northwestern High School. Republican challenger Mick Mulvaney spoke Tuesday in the same venue. Mulvaney has criticized Spratt's vote in favor of the initial $787 billion stimulus package. He says more money should have gone toward repairs for aging roads and bridges.
"The first stimulus got us $800 billion in debt and 15 percent unemployment," Mulvaney said Wednesday. "Why do we think a second stimulus would be different?"
An estimated 14,000 road construction projects are under way, Spratt says, and 1.5 million to 3 million jobs have been saved or created through the stimulus legislation, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Social Security group endorsement
Spratt picked up an endorsement Wednesday from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, an advocacy group founded in 1982 by former Congressman James Roosevelt, son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
At an announcement in the downtown Palmetto Room, President and CEO Barbara Kennelly described Spratt as a "pillar" on constantly changing Capitol Hill.
"There are a number of people who hold that organization together," said Kennelly, a former Democratic House member from Connecticut. "John Spratt is one of them."
Mulvaney says his internal polling shows him with a 6-point lead among likely voters.
Spratt campaign officials say their models show the race statistically tied.
Both candidates plan to barnstorm across the 5th District during the final two weeks before Nov. 2.
Spratt will hold a barbecue luncheon and meet with business leaders today in Sumter.
Mulvaney will be in Kershaw for an old-fashioned stump meeting.