Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States of America
After a highly partisan version failed to garner a single Republican vote in the House last night, Congressman Jack Kingston (R/GA-1) today called on President Barack Obama to consider bipartisan proposals in crafting a package to stimulate the nation's economy.
"In his inaugural address and his meeting with House Republicans earlier this week, President Obama called for bipartisanship to address the most pressing issues facing our nation," Congressman Kingston said. "I agree with the President that taking all viewpoints into consideration is the best way forward and took this opportunity to provide him with proposals I believe would garner the bipartisan support we both seek. In working together, I'm confident that we will find the best solution for America's future."
Congressman Kingston's letter outlines changes to the package in the areas of taxes, spending and other provisions he believes would garner Republican support. The Congressman urges tax cuts and credits for small businesses, seniors, middle class families and homebuyers. He also calls on the President to consider social programs through the regular order, rather than an economic stimulus and highlights the need to focus any spending on proven job-creating programs.
The letter goes on to address a number of areas not addressed in the spending package put forth by House Democrats including addressing unfunded mandates which cause stresses to state and local governments and the need to reduce unnecessary and wasteful government spending.
"Running to the printing presses is not the answer," Congressman Kingston said. "Any economic stimulus should mix infrastructure spending with tax breaks for all Americans and reduced government spending to prevent inflation and increased debt. Maxing out our children and grandchildren's credit cards just isn't the way forward."
The text of the letter reads:
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for taking the time to meet with the Republican Conference to discuss the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. We agree that a bipartisan solution is the best way forward with a stimulus package of this size and gravity. This is an achievable goal.
There are a number policies in this bill upon which we agree; however, major concerns regarding this legislation remain. As you know, the version passed in the House had minimal Republican input. Over 200 amendments were offered and only 11, most of which made minor changes, were ruled in order. In addition, the substantial growth of social government programs are not the type of job creation spending Americans envisioned.
Here are some ideas which I hope you will consider promoting as the bill moves through the legislative process.
Taxes: The inclusion of tax breaks in the measure is critical, but many could be directed in a manner that would be more beneficial to job creators and middle class families.
Provide accelerated depreciation for all businesses so they may expense the costs of assets in the same year of procurement.
Permanently repeal the required withdrawals at age 70½ from IRA and 401(k) retirement accounts.
Increase the child tax credit from $1,000 to $5,000 without regard to income.
Provide health insurance deductions for those who do not receive tax preferred, employer-sponsored coverage.
Create a 20% deduction for small business expensing.
Enhance and extend the $7,500 homebuyer tax credit.
Spending: Infrastructure spending is a job creator; however, the bill includes too little spending for bridges, highways, and public works.
Only 13% of this bill goes to transportation infrastructure, and only 7% to "shovel ready projects" in 2009. Less than half of the $30 billion in highway construction funds would be released into the economy over the next four years and less than $4 billion in highway construction money would reach the economy by September 2010.
Remove the 32 new federal government programs unless they are proven to create jobs. In addition, hearings on these programs are needed since their inclusion creates years of additional program funding. These 32 programs have had no expert testimony or committee hearings and should be fully vetted.
An emergency economic stimulus bill is not the time and place to include non-job creating social programs. Programs such as National Endowment for the Arts, preparation for universal healthcare, NOAA, IDEA, equipment for the CDC, the Smithsonian Institution, Byrne JAG, and COPS should be handled in the regular budget and annual appropriations bills.
Create a commission on unfunded mandates. Federal mandates placed on state and local governments siphon money from other priorities, such as infrastructure spending. Review of these high cost programs is essential to states' fiscal stability.
Insure that we do not reward bad budget behavior by bailing out states with large deficits. Instead, reward those states that made tough spending decisions in order to maintain fiscal responsibility. For example, Georgia has a larger population than New Jersey with a higher percent of poor citizens; however, Georgia spends $10 billion less as a state government. Such a disparity is a reflection of fiscal discipline rather than austerity.
The federal government must keep spending in check as well. The SAFE Commission (H.R. 3654 in the 110th Congress) would create a BRAC-like commission on all federal government spending - entitlement and discretionary. This commission would identify government waste, program duplication, and items to be cut from future budgets. With a $10.6 trillion national debt, action to stop the growth of wasteful federal spending is past due. The SAFE Commission should be included in H.R. 1 to ensure future economic stability.
Thank you again for meeting with us. I appreciate your willingness to address alternative policies and look forward to working with your Administration in the coming months to produce a viable solution for this economic crisis. In addition, I welcome any future opportunities to work together on the many other issues facing our Nation.
Member of Congress