ThinkProgress filed this report from Tusayan, Arizona.
Repeatedly during his town hall on Wednesday night in Tusayan, Arizona, freshman Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) told a small crowd of constituents that the road to economic recovery only requires “getting government off our backs.” However, Gosar — who represents a large rural district in northern Arizona hit by high unemployment and low wages — offered few concrete ideas on how to stimulate the region. That was until Tusayan City Councilman Al Montoya asked about New Deal-era programs like the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Montoya inquired why public works programs weren’t being created to provide jobs and invest in the community. Gosar surprisingly said that was a “really good” idea, and that President Franklin Roosevelt’s other large-scale public works program, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), would be another program the government should “go back and start looking at”:
MONTOYA: My question is, back in the day, we had programs you know that were effective. [...] East side of town we had WPA or WPA model. And nobody was in unemployment. If you need a job, you’re saving the town in which you work and you earn money. And we’re talking about efficiency as far as what we do with the American dollar, the federal dollar. But these programs don’t exist anymore. You know, what do we have to do to earn an honest dollar?
GOSAR: Well and there’s plenty of different ideas out there. You bring up some really good ones. CCC is another one. These are things we have to go back and start looking at.
President Obama did initially attempt a New Deal-style stimulus program after taking office, only to see much of it sliced away by Republican negotiators who demanded tax cuts and smaller investments. Republican obstruction in the Senate killed any prospect of modern public works programs after the initial stimulus to get Americans back on the job and preparing the country for new challenges ahead. Gosar, earlier this year, even celebrated the decline of stimulus spending and released a press statement calling for an end to such programs. Hopefully his comments Wednesday night shows a change of heart.