"Oregonians are as upset as I am about how the abuses on Wall Street are now inflicting damage on all Americans wherever they live and forcing Congress to take this action to prevent even worse damage to taxpayers. They're darn mad about being taken advantage of by the predatory tactics and greed. From here, the Congress must focus on new oversight and proper regulation of the financial markets to make sure that Americans never get taken advantage of again.
"More and more small businesses in Oregon are seeing their own credit tighten up and their sales fall as consumers begin to feel the effects of this mess, too. Everyone is losing right now, from retirement nest eggs shrinking, to business lines of credit being pulled, to car loans evaporating, our economy is getting hit hard and we're now seeing record job losses.
"While this measure is neither perfect nor politically popular, it is certainly better than what the Bush Administration originally sent to Congress. Gone is a blank check to the Treasury Department. And we stopped those on the other side of the aisle from putting really bad provisions into this measure. Gone are provisions to fund liberal, activist organizations. And we all agreed to stop giant corporate golden parachutes for those who participate in this rescue. This measure now ensures oversight protections for taxpayers. It puts taxpayers first in line to get paid back. It prohibits debt relief to foreign countries for foreign properties. And it has the potential to slow job losses and get people back to work.
"For rural Oregonians, we finally succeeded in reauthorizing and funding our county timber payments program for the next four years, and we fully fund Payment in Lieu of Taxes through 2012. This is an enormous victory for our Oregon schools, counties, libraries, road departments and law enforcement agencies. Counties and schools can now restore essential services and real, family wage jobs.
"For taxpayers, this measure prevents 21 million Americans in the middle class and 237,000 additional Oregon households from having to pay the onerous Alternative Minimum Tax, which would otherwise cost families $62 billion in higher taxes this year alone. It extends tax relief for qualified college tuition and for teachers who personally pay for classroom needs. It extends the child tax credit, which is essential to growing families. Failure to stop these tax increases on the middle class would make their family economic situation even worse than it already is.
"For Oregon's renewable energy sector, this measure extends tax incentives that are creating green collar jobs right here in Oregon through the development of wind, solar and fuel cells while providing research incentives for clean coal, plug-in hybrid vehicles and other conservation initiatives that will help make America more energy independent.
"And yet, even with this rescue package in place, the damage already done to the credit markets and those who create jobs, even in our small towns, is not going to be undone anytime soon. Much more work remains to turn this economy around and get people back their jobs, their homes and their savings. While this vote is not popular, nor easily made, I believe in my heart that it is better than ignoring the worse problem that will severely afflict families through no fault of their own if we fail to act.
Congressman Greg Walden represents Oregon's Second Congressional District, which is comprised of 20 counties in eastern, southern, and central Oregon. He is a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and a member of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.