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Garrett Gazette (02/05/2007)

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Location: Washington, DC


Garrett Gazette - February 5, 2007

Today, President Bush will be sending to the U.S. Congress his budget request for the next fiscal year. Some early reports on the request are already available for review. For instance, the budget request projects a drop in the Federal deficit over the next four years, leading to a $61 billion surplus in 2012. Also, the budget plan will balance the Federal budget within five years.

The President's plan includes an extension of the tax cuts that have fueled our growing economy. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently reported that the tax cuts of 2003 have helped to boost Federal revenues by 68 percent. And, numerous independent reports have noted that these tax cuts have led to an economic growth rate of about 3.5 percent, a rise in exports of almost 10 percent last year, and job creation averaging 187,000 new jobs per month last year. Unless extended by Congress, those tax cuts will expire in 2010.

The President's plan is also reported to eliminate or reduce 141 different government programs, saving $12 billion over five years that can be used for deficit reduction or other higher priority spending. I have long been a proponent of legislation to establish a sunset commission that will examine all Federal programs to determine which are no longer necessary, duplicate other Federal programs, or have not served the American people well.

I am pleased that the President's plan appears to put more of the spending for the Global War on Terror (GWOT) in his regular budget request, as opposed to through supplemental appropriations requests as has been the norm these past several years. I have been strongly encouraging the Department of Defense to use the regular budget process for these funding requests so that Congress can more effectively perform its oversight responsibilities and the American public can be more confident of the accountability of the process.

I am very much looking forward to reviewing the details of this $2.9 trillion budget request for Fiscal Year 2008 and to discussing some of its specific proposals with Office of Management and Budget Director, Rob Portman, when he testifies at before the Budget Committee, on which I sit, tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Scott Garrett

Member of Congress

ISSUE OF THE WEEK: HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE TO REVIEW FEDERAL RESPONSE TO HOUSING NEEDS FOLLOWING HURRICANE KATRINA

In the wake of yet another report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on how approximately $1 billion of funds appropriated for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was lost to waste, fraud, and abuse, the House Financial Services Committee - on which I sit - will be holding a hearing to determine how we can more efficiently and effectively respond to housing needs following major natural disasters in the future.

GAO has estimated that 16 percent of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) payments made through the Individuals and Households Program (IHP) were improper and fraudulent. The GAO has noted in numerous reports that the waste, fraud, and abuse were largely preventable. And, this latest report finds that, "With effective planning, relief agencies should not have to make a choice between speedy delivery of disaster recovery assistance and effective fraud prevention."

The report notes that of the $1 billion in improper and fraudulent IHP payments made, FEMA has collected only $7 million. It's uncertain whether the remaining funds, which could have been used by hurricane victims to rebuild their homes, their communities, and their lives, will ever be collected.

As the GAO further notes in this report, Congress is expected to consider billions of dollars in additional funds for disaster recovery related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the coming years. Given that probable scenario, it is that much more important that Congress first ensure that FEMA and other government agencies involved in recovery efforts have put in place the necessary controls to prevent as much waste, fraud, and abuse as possible.

I am looking forward to reviewing the GAO report and the testimony of the many experts who will appear at this week's Committee hearing. Congress must look for ways to ensure a swift and compassionate relief effort in the future that also keep the needs of all American taxpayers in mind.

CONGRESSMAN SCOTT GARRETT'S OFFICE COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU:

Congressman Garrett's staff will be holding Mobile Constituent Service Hours in a number of Fifth District towns this week. The Congressman's Constituent Service Officers are trained to act as your liaisons with Federal agencies. But, it's not always easy to make it out to one of the Congressman's district offices - in Paramus and Newton - to meet with one of them, especially when you are dealing with government red tape. These Mobile Constituent Service Hours sessions bring the Congressman's office to you. So, if you are having trouble with a Federal program, such as Medicare, veterans benefits, Social Security, or more, please feel free to come by. And, please bring copies of any relevant paperwork with you to facilitate their work.

Monday, February 5th

Franklin Lakes

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Borough Hall, Dekorte Drive

Monday, February 5th

Ringwood

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Borough Hall, 60 Margaret King Avenue

Tuesday, February 6th

Phillipsburg

10:00 am to noon
Town Hall, 675 Corliss Avenue

Tuesday, February 6th

Woodcliff Lake

10:00 am to noon

Borough Hall, 188 Pascack Road

Wednesday, February 7th

Midland Park

10:00 am to noon
Library, 250 Godwin Avenue

Wednesday, February 7th

Upper Saddle River

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Borough Hall, 376 W. Saddle River Road

Thursday, February 8th
Glen Rock

10:00 am to noon
Municipal Building, Harding Plaza

Thursday, February 8th

Wanaque

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Library, 616 Ringwood Avenue


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