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New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act and the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007 -- Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


NEW DIRECTION FOR ENERGY INDEPENDENCE, NATIONAL SECURITY, AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT AND THE RENEWABLE ENERGY AND ENERGY CONSERVATION TAX ACT OF 2007--Continued -- (Senate - April 03, 2008)

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Ms. STABENOW. Madam President, I first give thanks to my colleague and friend from Ohio. We have been working together on this issue. Michigan and Ohio are part of the epicenter as we have seen the downturn in the economy since 2000. We have seen 3 million manufacturing jobs--middle-class jobs that created the standard of living in this country--that have been lost.

This amendment addresses those companies that have done the right thing, that have paid good wages, provided health insurance, provided pensions, that now find themselves in a challenging time but that we want to continue to support so they can continue to keep great American jobs in this country.

I am so pleased we are joined by others in a truly bipartisan effort. We have four Democrats and four

Republicans cosponsoring the amendment. We have Senators Hatch, Rockefeller, Cantwell, Vitter, Levin, and Smith coming together from all parts of the country, representing important American industries that are asking to be recognized and to basically allow them to use the AMT and R&D credits they have already accumulated. They have made investments and we want them to make more, and we want to create a mechanism that allows them to benefit from the mechanisms we are putting into place to support industries that need assistance in this difficult time and need to be ready to come out of this economic downturn as quickly as possible.

There is no question that we are in a housing and economic crisis in America. Few States have been hurt worse than Michigan and Ohio. In Michigan alone, right now, we rank No. 6 in the number of foreclosures. Last year, 87,000 households were foreclosed upon; 87,000 families faced the loss of their homes and their piece of the American dream.

Last year, Michigan lost 62,000 good-paying jobs. Unfortunately, we are not alone. In February, the manufacturing sector lost 52,000 jobs. Over the last 7 years, manufacturing has lost more than 3.6 million jobs. Again, these are middle-class jobs and these companies have stepped forward to do the right thing and pay health care, pensions, and provide a standard of living that has been unsurpassed in the world.

Yet the Labor Department announced that the number of new people signing up for unemployment benefits last week shot up to the highest levels in more than 2 years, from a seasonal adjusted 38,000 people to 407,000 people.

In Michigan alone, right now, our unemployment rate is 7.2 percent. American families are in a state of crisis. They are losing their homes, their jobs and, of course, we cannot ignore this situation. We need to do everything possible to be able to support families, workers, and businesses that are being affected.

The Voinovich-Stabenow amendment would help save many of these important middle-class jobs and keep families out of foreclosure. From manufacturing States such as Michigan, families are not losing their homes because of a housing bubble, they are losing their homes because they lost their jobs, their livelihood. They have exhausted their unemployment benefits and they have spent all of their savings, probably dipped into the equity in their houses, and they cannot afford to pay the mortgages anymore. This is a daily reality for the families I represent in Michigan.

The bonus depreciation provision we passed in the stimulus package earlier this year gave manufacturers a strong incentive to increase their capital investments in an effort to stimulate the economy. Unfortunately, that did nothing for manufacturers that are struggling the most right now, the ones that are not profitable, that are being forced to shut down plants and lay off workers.

Our amendment would also give these struggling manufacturers an incentive to be here in America and invest in American jobs. By utilizing the AMT and R&D credit provision, manufacturers in this loss position that have built up AMT and research and development tax credits will now be able to use their credits, stimulate the economy, and create new jobs. These manufacturers will be able to recover their accumulated credits--in other words, they have invested and developed credits. They just cannot use them because they are currently not making a profit. This will allow them to recover those credits after they have made new investments, which will help them to fully realize the intended benefits of the bonus depreciation provision and put them on equal ground with profitable companies.

This amendment will not only allow these manufacturers to stay afloat in this time of economic uncertainty, but will help them invest, expand, and create more American jobs. It will allow them to avoid laying off more workers, many of whom are the most vulnerable when it comes to the issue of foreclosure, losing their home.

Adopting this amendment is an important first step in addressing the crisis facing our Nation. It cannot wait for another day. We would very much appreciate strong bipartisan support for this amendment that is a very important piece of addressing what is happening to so many millions of American families across this country.

I urge colleagues to join us in this bipartisan amendment.

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