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Congresswoman Hirono Votes for Economic Stimulus Plan

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Congresswoman Hirono Votes for Economic Stimulus Plan

Legislation Will Provide Tax Rebates for Many Hawai‘i Families

Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono today joined an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives in support of a plan to jumpstart the sluggish economy and help working families cope with the effects of the downturn. The legislation was passed by a vote of 385-35.

The Recovery Rebates and Economic Stimulus for the American People Act (H.R. 5140) will help stimulate the economy, providing tax rebates of up to $1,200 per couple, plus $300 per child. Congress is determined to act quickly to help struggling families. If legislation is passed by the Senate and approved by the President soon, families could receive tax rebates as early as mid-May.

"Working families in Hawai‘i are struggling just to make ends meet as they have to pay more for gas, food, health care, and college. And now the national economic downturn is making things worse," said Congresswoman Hirono. "The House has worked together with the Administration to craft a plan that will give the economy a much-needed boost and deliver to families the relief they need right now."

The Senate is now considering similar legislation to stimulate the economy and provide assistance to middle class and lower income families. Congresswoman Hirono is encouraged that the Senate is apparently considering steps such as extending unemployment benefits, increasing food stamps and Medicaid funding and making more seniors eligible based on their Social Security income so that the people who need help the most will receive it.

"Experts have determined that spending on food stamps and unemployment benefits provide a bigger boost for the economy than tax breaks," Congresswoman Hirono said.

She cited a study by Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's, that estimates increasing food stamp payments by a dollar produces a $1.73 increase in the economy and a dollar increase in unemployment benefits generates $1.64.

Congresswoman Hirono said, "I support measures like these that provide a safety net for those most in need and reflect true compassion. Certainly, as we work to stimulate the economy, we should focus our efforts on helping working families. I strongly oppose the President's call to extend his tax cuts for the richest of the rich. That would not be either fair or effective."

The bill passed by the House today provides a recovery rebate to 117 million families, including 35 million families who work but make too little to pay income taxes and 13 million senior citizens. The broad-based stimulus package will provide tax relief of up to $600 per individual and $1,200 per married couple, plus an additional $300 per child.

The legislation also includes tax cuts for small businesses. The bipartisan plan doubles the amount small businesses can immediately write off their taxes for capital investments and encourages investments in new equipment. Additionally, the plan offers immediate tax relief for all businesses to invest in new plants and equipment by speeding up depreciation provisions, so that firms can write off an additional 50 percent for investments purchased in 2008.

"Small businesses power our economy in Hawai‘i," added Congresswoman Hirono, a member of the House Small Business Committee. "Our bill gives businesses an incentive to expand their operations, hire new workers and help get our economy back on track."

The plan also includes provisions to help families avoid losing their homes to foreclosure. The bill expands affordable mortgage loan opportunities for families at risk of foreclosure through the Federal Housing Administration. To enhance credit availability in the mortgage market, the measure also includes a one-year increase in the loan limits for single family homes from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

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