m3581 BC-MN-Franken 2ndLd-Writethru 04-14 0399 routed by tamara

Franken hits road to express views on economy

Eds: UPDATES to restore dropped word in first graf.


Associated Press Writer

ST. PAUL (AP) — Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken on Monday questioned the focus of a federal economic stimulus package in which tax rebate checks will soon be sent to millions of Americans.


As he embarked on a tour of Minnesota focused on the economy, Franken said he was "not thrilled" with the $168 billion economic rescue package Congress approved in February.

While stopping short of saying he would have voted against the plan, Franken said he would have preferred more emphasis on helping states and municipalities move ahead with deferred repairs to highways, bridges and sewer systems.

"It would have the benefit of putting people to work, which is what you need to do in a recession," Franken told reporters at a state Capitol news conference. "And it would have the added benefit of actually repairing some infrastructure, which is also good for our economy."

Tom Erickson, a campaign spokesman for Sen. Norm Coleman, said the GOP incumbent was satisifed with the stimulus package and is trying to supplement it with block grants to communities fighting the foreclosure mess.

For the long term, Franken said he would like to see tax credits for people caring for elderly relatives and he would try to reinstate higher tax rates on top earners.

"Norm Coleman is going to stay the course on the Bush economic policy that’s gotten us this far. I want to reverse course," Franken said.

Erickson put a different spin on things.

"Norm Coleman doesn’t want to raise taxes in the current economic condition," Erickson said. "He likens it to pouring gasoline on a fire. It’s not what we need right now."


Also Monday, Franken explained his neutrality in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. He said he considers Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama to both be worthy candidates.

He mentioned his own endorsement contest and suggested taking sides in the White House race could end up "peeving" some state convention delegates.

Franken is considered the favorite in a Democratic endorsement race that also features Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, Darryl Stanton and Dick Franson.

What To Read Next
Get Local