WASHINGTON – While at least one of Maine’s members of Congress appears eager to work to pass President Obama’s jobs package, others’ responses Thursday night ranged from a degree of skepticism to a counterproposal.

Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District picked up on Obama’s repeated pleas during his speech for Congress to pass his jobs plan promptly.

“The president tonight presented a concrete jobs plan, but it will only work if we can get the consensus to get it passed right away,” Pingree said.

“The middle class in this country is on the ropes, and it’s time for Congress to put politics aside and do the work necessary to get the economy moving again.”

Republican Sen. Susan Collins responded to the speech, at least in part, by announcing what she considers jobs legislation of her own: a proposal she intends to introduce today, for a one-year moratorium on “significant” new federal rules and regulations taking effect, if those rules are judged under her “Regulatory Time-Out Act” to have an adverse effect on the economy and job creation.

Collins said she will introduce her bill because “far too often … our small businesses are buried under a mountain of paperwork, driving up costs and impeding growth and job creation.”

Collins said she is concerned that Obama didn’t detail how he would pay for his job proposals, but she did back his call to extend the payroll tax holiday for employees for another year.

Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe has been pushing a regulatory overhaul bill of her own this year, trying to force what she says current law already mandates: reviewing every rule at least once a decade to determine whether it should be made less burdensome or eliminated.

Snowe said she agrees with some of Obama’s ideas, including extending the payroll tax cut and using highway trust funds to speed up road and bridge projects. But she said she will oppose “any effort to pay for the president’s initiatives by raising taxes on the job-creating small business owners that serve as the backbone of our economy.”

Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine’s 2nd District says he agrees with Obama’s calls to put partisanship aside in the interest of job creation, and for more spending on the nation’s transportation system and infrastructure.

But he isn’t a fan of Obama’s call for Congress to pass pending trade deals, including one with South Korea. He urged Obama to focus on cracking down on the alleged currency manipulation of trading partners such as China.

“I’m disappointed that the president is falling back into some of the same old Washington ways when it comes to trade policy,” Michaud said.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:

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