Miller Supports More Tax Relief for Working Families
The phones in my Fort Walton Beach, Pensacola and Washington offices have been ringing off the hook this week with constituents calling and expressing their concern with the so-called stimulus bill Congress recently voted on. The overwhelming majority of the calls, emails and letters decry the bill for its huge cost and indicate it does nothing for working families in Northwest Florida . You know what? These constituents are absolutely right.
Increased debt is not something the American people need, especially during these tough economic times. That is just one of the reasons I voted against today's flawed bill. The leadership of Congress is out of touch and intoxicated by their power, and it intends to bankrupt the country by funding programs no one needs. The Democrat bill, approaching $1 trillion in its scope, proposes funding for hundreds, if not thousands, of wasteful programs. Below, I've highlighted some of the most troubling proposals:
-$3 billion for Prevention & Wellness Programs, including $335 million for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases
-$550 million for Indian Health Facilities
-$400 million for climate change research
-$300 million to construct research science buildings at colleges and universities, many of which have billion dollar endowments
-$50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts to fund projects and activities which preserve jobs in the non-profit arts sector
In addition to these highlighted programs, the proposed bill specifically excludes religious and private schools from receiving any funding and until recently, included a huge sum of money towards contraceptive funding. In fact, the Speaker of the House said to an ABC news commentator "the family planning services reduce cost part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of thoseone of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."
Discriminating against religious schools, advocating contraception as a measure to control federal costs and funding wasteful programs are not issues the American people have asked the Congress to address. In fact, the American people were shut out of the making of this bill because it was crafted in under two weeks by three separate committees. The end result is a 647 page bill that was put on a website just under 48 hours before we voted.
This 647 page bill does contain a small amount of funding for much needed military construction and homeland security projects. I plan to work with the leadership of the Congress and the House Armed Services Committee to ensure these requests for funds are met. Having less than 1 percent of a bill include defense and homeland security funding is not good enough, and I encourage my colleagues to avoid using this small piece of the bill as justification for its passage.
Perhaps more troubling than any of the above statistics is just how ineffective this bill will turn out to be in the short term. It spends less than10 percent of the overall funds on infrastructure funding and it creates over 30 new government programs and bureaucracies, totaling close to $200 billion and none of these programs have been debated or discussed.
Furthermore, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has stated that the "hidden costs" in the bill total more than $200 billion and less than 65 percent of the funds will be expended in the next two years. In fact, they predict billions of dollars from this bill will not be expended in the next ten years. The last stimulus bill passed by Congress was supposed to be targeted, timely and temporary. This new stimulus bill exposes that slogan as a fraud.
I know our economy needs a jump start, and I believe this jump start should not come in the form of a $1 trillion-plus bill that was constructed in less than two weeks by the Democratic leadership of the House, with no input from the Minority. Even more unfortunate than this exclusion from the legislative process is that the bill had already been filed before the President met with my colleagues and I to discuss it.
As an alternative to the bill I voted against, I strongly support HR 470 - The Economic Recovery and Middle-Class Tax Relief Act of 2009. On January 26th of this year, I joined 62 of my colleagues as supporters of this important piece of legislation, and I hope the leadership of the House of Representatives allows an up or down vote. Contrary to the so-called stimulus bill, HR 470 supports families through tax cuts, provides economic relief for American businesses and entrepreneurs and saves future generations from a crushing debt burden.
As I have said before, the bailouts and the out-of-control spending need to stop and Congress needs to address issues important to working families. I urge my colleagues that run the House of Representatives to scrap their vote schedule and immediately bring to the floor the remaining funding bills they failed to pass last Congress. I also urge them to bring forward legislation that will decrease our dependence on foreign oil, reduce lawsuit abuse, lower the tax burden on American families and hold corporate America responsible for how it has spent the bailout money.