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Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

EMERGENCY ECONOMIC STABILIZATION ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - October 03, 2008)


Ms. HIRONO. Madam Speaker, the emergency financial rescue package I am supporting today, while far from perfect, contains noticeable improvements on the Paulson Plan we considered on Monday. This package is much more balanced in favor of helping everyday people, middle-class families, and small businesses. The bailout package we considered on Monday was simply too geared toward Wall Street and the corporations whose irresponsible practices helped create this crisis in the first place.

This new financial rescue package raises the cap on FDIC-insured bank accounts from $100,000 to $250,000, which will assist families and small businesses while restoring Americans' confidence that their savings are secure.

The new package provides tax relief for middle-class families and tax incentives designed to create new jobs and economic opportunities in Hawaii, where people have been hit hard by the economic downturn that preceded this financial crisis. The majority of the tax relief, tax credits, and tax extenders added to the package will provide direct relief and economic assistance to middle-class families and working people--such as the Alternative Minimum Tax, AMT, relief provision and tax credits to speed research, development, and use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

The AMT fix, for example, will prevent some 40,000 constituents in my second district of Hawaii from having to pay higher taxes that were originally intended only to affect wealthy taxpayers.

The renewable energy tax credits are critical to encourage investment in the alternative energy projects Hawaii needs to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

In addition, the bill reauthorizes for 2 years the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, QZAB, program, which helps school districts with low-income populations save on interest costs associated with financing school renovations and repairs. Hawaii received about $1.3 million in QZAB allocations in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Another significant provision of this bill requires insurance mental health parity legislation that advocates in Congress have been trying to pass for the past 10 years. I am an original cosponsor of this legislation. These provisions, included in the financial rescue package, will make sure that families struggling with mental illness do not have that challenge compounded by inadequate coverage of mental health care costs.

I have voted for these energy, business, and middle-class tax relief measures earlier in the House. These provisions will help 30 million homeowners, create 500,000 American green jobs, and provide tax relief for well over 25 million middle-class families. Including those tax relief proposals as part of the financial rescue package has made the overall proposal more balanced, and more likely to help everyday people get through these difficult economic times.

The economic downturn we are facing, resulting in loss of jobs, foreclosures, and families having difficulty paying for life's necessities, will not be fixed by this relief bill. The economic provisions added to the bill will help. But we need a broader economic stimulus package to get our economy going in the right direction again.

I am disappointed that it appears the Senate is not taking up the economic stimulus package (H.R. 7110) recently passed in the House, which will create jobs, extend unemployment benefits, help States with Medicaid reimbursements, and support our Food Stamp program. This bill represented some $222 million for Hawaii.

I did talk to Senator OBAMA about his perspective and my concerns about this bill. We both know that much more work remains to be done to address the underlying economic and regulatory problems that won't be fixed with this bill. We agree that new Federal investments are needed in transportation and clean water infrastructure as well as in education to enhance our Nation's competitiveness and to put people to work. Senator OBAMA also shares my concern that the cost of this rescue plan will not ultimately fall on the taxpayers, and he reassured me of his commitment to impose financial service fees to make taxpayers whole. With the right leadership in the White House, I am confident that we can make the changes needed in future legislation to protect homeowners and taxpayers and to reform our financial markets.


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