WASHINGTON – While at least one Maine member of Congress appears eager to work to pass President Obama’s jobs package, other reactions ranged from a degree of skepticism to a counter proposal.

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

“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.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, reacted to the speech, at least in part, by announcing what she considers to be jobs legislation of her own: a proposal she intends to formally introduce Friday that seeks a one-year moratorium on “significant” new federal rules and regulations that are judged under her “Regulatory Time-Out Act” to have an adverse impact on the economy and job creation. She said she is concerned that Obama didn’t detail how he would pay for his job proposals, but did back his call to extend the payroll tax holiday for employees for another year.

Collins said she was introducing her regulatory bill because, “No business owner I know questions the legitimate role of government in protecting the health, safety, and well-being of the public and employees. … Far too often, however, our small businesses are buried under a mountain of paperwork, driving up costs and impeding growth and job creation.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, also has been pushing a regulatory overhaul bill of her own this year that attempts 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.

But Obama also addressed the topic of federal regulations in his speech, saying that some lawmakers “sincerely believe that the only solution to our economic challenges is to simply cut most government spending and eliminate most government regulations.”

Obama said that he agrees that the federal government should take a commonsense approach to regulations. “But what we can’t do – what I won’t do – is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades,” he said.

But Snowe said in a statement after the speech that, “Without exception, potential job creators are yearning for predictability, consistency and permanence in the policies emanating from government. Too many onerous regulations, too few incentives, and a tax code too complex are all suppressing the entrepreneurial spirit intrinsic to our nation.”

Snowe said she agrees with some of Obama’s ideas, including extending the payroll tax cut and using existing 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 President Obama’s call to put partisanship aside in the interest of job creation and that he backs Obama’s call for more spending on the nation’s transportation and infrastructure system.

But Michaud isn’t a fan of Obama’s call for Congress to pass pending trade deals, including one with South Korea, and instead 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. “Instead of passing damaging trade deals like his predecessors, the president should instead embrace the need to crack down on foreign currency manipulation.”

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

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