During the past few months there has been a lot of talk about recession and the loss of jobs. Congress responded by crafting the Economic Stimulus package, which is an attempt to put more money back into the hands of American consumers, thus stimulating the economy. The goal of this package was to create jobs, make it easier for families to buy a home and give most taxpayers in Kentucky a sizeable rebate check of their own tax dollars.
There are important things government can do to help. There also are limits to what government ought to do. I don't think government should bail out bad decisions, whether made by individuals or large companies -- that wouldn't be fair to those who have more carefully managed their own resources. Yet, when the health of our whole economy is impacted by the failures of some, decisions on whether and where to intervene become more complicated. As a general rule, I think we ought to avoid government bailouts.
Yet, there is still more that Congress can and should do to improve and grow our economy. Congress needs to provide citizens with incentives to save more and invest in the American economy. I believe this can be done through tax breaks and reducing federal spending. Since coming to Congress, I have been committed to reducing the heavy burden of taxation on our nation's families and businesses. For this reason, I supported the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Act of 2001, which reduced federal income tax rates for all Americans. In addition, I supported the Jobs and Growth Tax Act of 2003 which lowered the taxes individuals pay on stock dividends and capital gains.
As the people of the First Congressional District continue to face tough economic times, I remain committed to doing everything I can to get our economy back on track and promote job growth in our area. By keeping taxes low, driving down gasoline and energy costs and giving small businesses the tools they need to succeed, we can turn our economy around.
I understand the difficulty found by many who are seeking employment. As your federal representative, I am doing what I can to provide assistance to those who have lost their jobs as well as exploring ways the federal government can help with job creation. Of course, local economic development agencies as well as the State also have a key role to play in job creation.
For my part, I have worked hard to promote economic development throughout our region which will result in job creation. Some of my efforts have included helping to secure $500,000 from the federal Delta Regional Authority for the West Kentucky Regional Industrial Development Authority to further develop the Four Star Regional Industrial Park. This federal money enabled the Authority to get access to $322,250 in local and State matching funds. This money helped secure a 428,000-sq.-ft. Columbia Sportswear Distribution center in Henderson County that now employs approximately 175 people. I've also helped secure millions of dollars for industrial parks throughout the
The coal industry is an important component of economic development in the First District. Today, Kentucky's coal industry has an economic impact of $3.25 billion and employs approximately 17,000 miners, along with tens of thousands of additional workers. With this abundance of coal, Kentucky is the perfect place to house a coal-to-liquids or coal-to-gas plant. Plants such as these would not only create jobs and spur economic growth in the region, but go a long way in helping our nation achieve energy security and drive down fuel costs by diversifying our nation's energy portfolio and utilizing our own natural resources.
I have fully supported recent efforts to bring a coal-to-liquids plant to McCracken County. This proposed plant would potentially bring in more than 2,000 permanent jobs, 2,000 construction jobs and countless more jobs as a result of new businesses that would be attracted to western Kentucky as a result of the plant. While economic development incentives for a plant such as this are most often done at the state and local level, I will do what I can on the federal level to help facilitate this critical investment.
Economic development councils across the District are continuously working to attract new industries. One of the biggest attractions for businesses to locate in a particular area is the tax benefit the company can receive. These tax benefits can only be given by local and state governments. The First District will benefit from these new employment opportunities and I will continue to work with local and state officials to help attract even more new businesses.
I always have been committed to reducing the heavy burden of taxation on our nation's families and businesses. For this reason, I supported the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Act of 2001, which reduced federal income tax rates for all Americans. In addition, I supported the Jobs and Growth Tax Act of 2003 which lowered the taxes individuals pay on stock dividends and capital gains. Many seniors rely on the income from stock dividends in order to supplement their retirement income and these tax reductions have helped bolster that income. I also supported these tax reductions because they were needed to help stimulate the economy.
Last year, I supported the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act that prevents several current-law tax provisions from expiring this year. These provisions affected a large portion of taxpayers, including small businesses and middle-income families. The focus of this legislation is the extension of relief from the alternative minimum tax (AMT) ensuring 15 million taxpayers will now be protected from paying the AMT. It also provides a two-year extension of reduced capital gains and dividend rates through 2010.
I have cosponsored the Fair Tax Act. This legislation will provide permanent estate tax and gift tax relief for farmers and small business owners in the First District. The estate tax, also known as the death tax, is a tax on the value of deceased individuals' assets before they are passed to their heirs. Many economists have noted that the death tax penalizes savings and makes it more difficult for farmers and small business owners to pass on their life's work to their families. Double taxation on an individual's earnings is unfair. This measure eliminates this inherently unjust tax, allowing Americans who have worked hard their whole lives to pass down the fruits of their labor. In addition, this measure repeals the income tax and employment tax. I will certainly do what I can to ensure this important legislation is enacted.
In addition, I continue to support legislation that eliminates the marriage penalty and the phone excise tax enacted over a hundred years ago to pay for the Spanish-American War. I also support expanding educational and child tax credits, contributions to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and deductions for health insurance and long-term care.
We also need to reform the overly complex tax code. The IRS estimated that in the year 2000, Americans spent 3.2 billion hours and up to $99 billion dollars organizing and paying their taxes. With over 150 tax reductions, exemptions, and rebates in the tax code, it is no wonder why so many Americans struggle with the complexity of taxes.
American families work too hard not to keep more of their money. I will continue to work with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to reduce the overall tax burden and to simplify the tax code.