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Mr. HERGER. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this bill with the firm belief and hope that we can do better.
We are currently undergoing a severe economic downturn. My own State and district have been badly impacted. And I share our new President's desire to move quickly on an economic recovery measure. However, I cannot support a bill that claims to provide $275 billion in tax relief when $80 billion of that is going to people with no income tax liability. You can't cut taxes for someone who doesn't pay taxes. Mr. Chairman, we can do better by focusing on tax relief that creates incentives for economic activity.
Nor can I support a bill that spends hundreds of billions on big government programs like the National Endowment for the Arts or new cars for Federal workers. We do need to make long-term investments in infrastructure and health information technology, but long-term investments require careful planning. We can do better by taking the time to get infrastructure and health IT right, and by eliminating wasteful spending.
Nor can I support a bill that would lead employers to cut jobs or drop health coverage in the middle of a recession. Allowing workers to stay on COBRA longer--more than 30 years in some cases--could impose an unfunded mandate on employers of $40 billion or more. In the Ways and Means Committee, the majority refused even to study the effect of this provision on coverage. We can do better by expanding eligibility for health insurance tax relief, and by providing more funding for high-risk pools for those who can't get coverage elsewhere.
Finally, I can't support an $825 billion bill that won't fully take effect until 18 months or 2 years down the road, or even longer. Mr. Chairman, people in my district need help today. We can do better by passing fast-acting tax relief that will create jobs this year, plus extended unemployment benefits for those out of work.
I urge my colleagues to vote ``no.'' Mr. Chairman, we can and must do better.
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