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10/30/01 Grand Rapids Press A11
2001 WL 29516683

The Grand Rapids Press
Tuesday, October 30, 2001
City & Region

Stabenow urges a 'new normal,' with fresh international outlook ; The war on terrorism gives the United States a chance to address economic conditions that can lead to hatred.
Steven Harmon / The Grand Rapids Press
People often ask U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow if she thinks America
can get back to normal in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks.

Stabenow, in Grand Rapids Monday, said she tells them she doesn't
want to get back to normal.

"I want to create a new normal," she said, speaking for the Jane
Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center program at Aquinas College's
Wege Student Center Ballroom.

That "new normal" would take a fresh outlook on old problems, she
said.

For example, she said, the war on terrorism has presented the
United States with an opportunity to become more engaged with the
rest of the world.

"We're connected in a way where issues of poverty, the lack of
education affect us," she said. "We have to give people tools to
create their own economy so . . . those (impoverished) are not so
vulnerable to fanatacism and hatred."

Also, she said the economic stimulus plan weighed by Congress
should consider investments in infrastructure, such as crumbling
schools, water and sewage projects, and road and transportation
issues.

"Those are legitimate needs, and if we would invest in them now to
create jobs, stimulate the economy, it would do something positive in
meeting needs," she said.

Stabenow said she opposes the House's proposed $100 billion
economic stimulus plan, which focuses on corporate and individual tax
breaks. Senate Democrats are countering with more help for laid-off
workers and spending on homeland security and infrastructure needs.

Stabenow predicted that by early next year, Congress will return
to focusing on important issues other than the war on terrorism.

"At the moment, things are off the radar -- which is
understandable in the short run," she said. "We have to deal with
immediate security and safety issues. But as we move through this, we
need your help to get these issues back on the radar.

"One concern I have is that every newscast goes over and over the
same issues, even if there are no new developments," she said.

"It's all related to anthrax and the war. It's very important, but
there are other important issues. We have to wrestle our way back to
requiring elected officials to focus on these things."

But she also spoke of changed economic realities that will make it
difficult to find resources to find solutions to such problems as
high prescription drug prices, one of her signature issues.

"Two months ago, we were talking about what to do with projected
surpluses -- now we're talking about how we can stay out of debt,"
she said.

 


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