Alternative bill better for U.S.
America has faced crises before, many during my time in Congress. No one will ever forget the crisis that occurred Sept. 11, 2001. In the wake of that attack, Republicans and Democrats closed ranks. You couldn't tell a Republican from a Democrat. We were united in facing down the crisis.
The state of the economy today is a crisis unlike any we've seen since the Great Depression. Failure to confront it correctly will have life-altering effects on most, if not all, Americans. A weakened economy also leaves America more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
If ever there was a time to unite, blur the partisan line and come together to face down the crisis, this is it. It is disappointing to me that my friends on the other side of the aisle have chosen instead to offer a partisan bill filled with partisan pork instead of a bill that will create jobs and confidence in the economy.
Confidence in the economy is as critical as creating jobs. But only 10 percent of Americans believe the economy will get better this year as a result of the stimulus plan passed by the House last week, and 53 percent say the plan will not have an effect on their families at all, or will actually make their financial situations worse.
We must do better than spend:
* $80 billion for refundable tax credits, including giving income-tax refunds to 7 million people who paid no income taxes.
* $8 billion for federal buildings and new cars for federal employees.
* $87 billion for Medicaid spending for states and $79 billion for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.
* $1 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
* $335 million for sexually transmitted disease education and prevention programs (funds that have been used in the past to underwrite a transgender beauty pageant and an event called "Got Love? Flirt/Date/Score" that taught same-sex participants how "to flirt with greater finesse").
The bill also includes such nonstimulus spending as $650 million for TV converter boxes, $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts, $400 million for climate-change research, $350 million to identify and track the availability and adoption of broadband services, and $800 million for Amtrakthe federal subsidized rail carrier that consistently loses moneyfor the purpose of reducing Amtrak's $10 billion capital backlog.
The noneconomic programs may have merit and are worthy of debate. But an economic stimulus bill should not be an opportunity to push through pet projects that should be debated on their own merits and could, in fact, harm our economic recovery.
As passed by the House, the bill will cost the people I represent in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties $1.9 billion, or nearly $3,000 each for every man, woman and child. Increasingly, families' tax burdens decrease their ability to spend on goods and services. The Senate may pass an even larger bill with an even higher burden on taxpayers. How does that stimulate the economy?
I voted for an alternative that was targeted specifically at creating jobs and confidence in the economy. In fact, using the same formula used by the administration to determine how the majority's bill would benefit the economy, analysts determined the alternative bill would have created twice as many jobs at half the cost.
The alternative would have reduced the tax rates for America's lowest wage earners in the two lowest tax brackets, from 15 percent to 10 percent and from 10 percent to 5 percent. Those in the current 10 percent bracket would see a tax savings of $500 a year. Those in the current 15 percent bracket would receive an average of $1,200 in tax savings. A family of four could save up to $3,200 a year in taxes (as opposed to paying $12,000 more a year, as the majority's plan would do).
Small businesses, which get short shrift under the majority's plan, would be allowed to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income under the alternative. Small businesses are job creators. They employ about half of all Americans. Current tax rates, however, siphon off one-third or more of their income, making it difficult for them to create more jobs.
The alternative also would have given home buyers a $7,500 tax credit if they made a minimum down payment of 5 percent. Such a program would encourage responsible buyers to enter the market and stabilize prices.
The alternative would have extended unemployment benefits and eliminated taxes on them.
The alternative would have created jobs and confidence.
Both parties agree the issue must be addressed. We may not agree on a perfect resolution, but the resolution must address the core problems. I cannot and will not support and will actively fight any bill that purports to cure but actually worsens the disease.