ENews February 8, 2008
1. House clears Temporary Growth Package
2. Making College Accessible and Affordable
3. Frelinghuysen acts to protect Social Security numbers
4. Do Not Call list is permanent
5. U.S. Commerce Secretary coming to New Jersey
6. Frustrated by aircraft noise? Take Action!
7. Spread the e-News!
House Clears Temporary Economic Growth Package
The House yesterday gave final legislative approval to a temporary economic growth package that will help small businesses create new jobs and give tax relief to middle-income American families.
"This timely package includes strong, broad-based tax relief for America's families and small businesses," said Frelinghuysen. "Our goal is to provide a spark to a slowing economy."
The House-passed legislation would provide $600 payments for individuals -- $1,200 for couples -- plus $300 for each child under 17. It would begin to phase out eligibility at $75,000 in adjusted gross income for individuals and $150,000 for couples. Workers who can show $3,000 in earned income last year--not enough to pay taxes--would be eligible for payments of $300.
Businesses also would be given tax incentives to invest in new plants and equipment. The Federal Housing Administration and the federally-backed mortgage consolidators Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be allowed to insure larger home mortgages.
Earlier Thursday, the Senate added to the House bill by expanding eligibility for rebate checks to include low-income senior citizens, disabled veterans and survivors of disabled veterans. The amendment also tightened language designed to prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving checks.
The President will sign the legislation into law shortly.
"Our work is clearly not yet done. In coming months, I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to use the best attributes of our economy - lower taxes, less intrusive regulation, pro-growth fiscal policies -- to re-energize what I believe is a fundamentally sound and resilient economy, beset by a downturn" said Frelinghuysen. "Our natural inclination as a people is to be inventive, opportunistic and entrepreneurial. We need to capitalize on these traits as we build a strong foundation for the future."
Making College Accessible and Affordable
The House has passed legislation designed to make a college education more affordable and more accessible to American students.
"A higher education is the gateway to a good job at a good wage," said Frelinghuysen. "This legislation swings the school house door open wider for New Jersey students of all ages who want to continue their education."
The College Opportunity & Affordability Act (HR 4137) increases the maximum Pell grant for needy students to $9,000 per year, from $5,800. The bill also creates a "higher education price index" to help students and their families measure and compare tuition increases at different colleges. The measure also penalizes states that cut funding for institutions of higher education by withholding federal funds under certain circumstances.
In addition, the bill contains provisions to simplify the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) that all families seeking financial assistance must complete. For instance, the bill creates a two-page "FAFSA-EZ" form for students and families who qualify for the "auto-zero" family contribution and requires students reapplying for FAFSA in subsequent years to provide only updated information, not a whole new FAFSA.
Frelinghuysen acts to protect Social Security numbers
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen has introduced legislation designed to safeguard Americans Social Security numbers from those who would misuse them or engage in identity theft.
"Whether we like it or not, our Social Security numbers have become critically important to our economic well-being," said Frelinghuysen. "Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. Dishonest people can use your number and your good credit to apply for more credit in your name. Then, they use the credit cards and do not pay the bills. This legislation is designed to make life harder for identity thieves."
The major components of Frelinghuysen's Social Security Number Misuse Prevention Act:
Prohibit the sale or display of a social security number to the general public without the individual's expressed consent;
Prohibit the federal, state and local government from displaying social security numbers on public records posted on the internet or issued to the public through CD-ROMs or other electronic media, or from printing them on government checks;
Prevent the employment of inmates for tasks that would allow them access to Social Security Numbers of other individuals;
Provides some limitation on when a business can ask for a Social Security number;
Requires a study of the current uses of Social Security numbers and the impact on privacy and data security;
"Do Not Call" List is Permanent
In a victory for consumers across America, Congress on Wednesday sent to President Bush two bills that would make permanent a program to protect consumers from unwanted phone calls from telemarketers. Its hallmark is the national "do not call" list.
"The Do Not Call list has been a very successful program, said Rep. Frelinghuysen, who worked to establish and refine the program years ago. "Not only does the FTC's registry help consumers alleviate the annoyance of telemarketing calls but it also helps protect consumers, especially senior citizens, against fraudulent telemarketers who make it their business to scam innocent people."
The Do Not Call Registry, initiated in 2003, has been widely praised. Over 150 million people have listed their phones on the registry, which prohibits calls from telemarketers.
Telemarketers pay annual fees of up to $17,050 and must search the registry every month and drop from call lists the phone numbers of consumers who have registered. Violating the Do Not Call Registry subjects telemarketers to civil penalties up to $11,000 per violation. Last November, the FTC announced nearly $7.7 million in settlements with six companies accused of calling people on the list.
Organizations engaged in charitable, political and survey work are exempt from the restrictions and companies that have an established business relationship with a customer may call for up to 18 months after the last purchase, payment or delivery
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Coming to New Jersey
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen will welcome the Secretary of the United States Department of Commerce, Carlos M. Gutierrez, to New Jersey on February 22. Secretary Gutierrez will address a luncheon gathering sponsored by the Morris County Chamber of Commerce on Friday, February 22, beginning at 12 noon at The Mansion at Fairleigh Dickinson University, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison.
"I am pleased that Secretary Gutierrez has accepted my invitation to meet with our business community," said Frelinghuysen. "He is in a key position to brief our business leaders on efforts to re-energize our economy and create and expand the number of good jobs for America's workers.
Carlos M. Gutierrez is the 35th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the voice of business in government. The former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Kellogg Company, Secretary Gutierrez is a core member of President Bush's economic team. He oversees a diverse Cabinet agency with some 38,000 workers and a $6.5 billion budget focused on promoting American business at home and abroad.
"One of Secretary Gutierrez's top priorities is opening global markets for U.S. companies," said Frelinghuysen. "He will find an eager and receptive audience in New Jersey, one of America's leading export states."