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Public Statements

This Week in Washington


Location: Washington, DC

One thing I see as I travel the district is that the resolve of our people to work, create, innovate and succeed is as strong as ever. Folks are telling me they want Washington to stop all the grandstanding and bickering and start doing something now that will help people and businesses in their fight to regain our national economic strength.

There is one thing Congress can do right away to help out: return to Washington immediately and extend the two-percent Social Security payroll tax rollback. At a time when working families are already struggling to get by, two percent more in each pay check can make a difference. Since this payroll tax is only applied to the first $106,000 dollars a person earns in a year, it is those who make less than that who pay the highest percentage of their income to this tax.

Estimates are that the average American family would have an extra $1,000 dollars a year in take home pay through a reduction of this tax. What some people in Washington don't seem to understand is that for so many working families just hanging on by the thinnest of financial threads, $1,000 a year is real money. In addition to buoying the income of workers, the rollback would also help businesses as families would continue to spend that extra $1,000 a year on gas, groceries, clothes and the other necessities of life.

At a time when government provides massive subsidies to multi-billion dollar, multi-national corporations and allows tax loopholes that keep some billionaires' effective tax rates lower than those of middle class wage earners, it doesn't seem right to re-institute a tax that hits hardest on school teachers, nurses, store clerks and minimum wage workers. Critics say this rollback will hurt Social Security by allowing less money to come into the trust fund during the time of the rollback. No one is a stronger advocate for Social Security than I am, and I would not support any measure that I believed placed it at risk. Families need the money now. Our economy needs the activity now.

Those in Washington who are genuinely concerned about the solvency of Social Security should stop the government from borrowing against the Trust Fund, to which the government now owes $3.5 Trillion. It is a decade of out of control spending and borrowing that has jeopardized the Social Security system. I say rather than allow the government to continue to raid the Trust Fund, we simply continue to give two percent of that money back to the people who've earned it during this time of economic hardship. I say the solvency of the American working family should be a higher priority than the ability of the government to continue to siphon money out of the Social Security Trust Fund. When the government stops bleeding the Trust Fund dry, then its solvency will no longer be an issue. In the meantime, we must begin to address the economic crisis that many working families in America face every day.

Be it bailouts, TARP, tax loopholes or monetary policy, our system always seems tilted to the big, the powerful and the well connected. How often have we heard "Too Big to Fail" as an excuse to use taxpayers' dollars to bailout or prop up the reckless or poorly managed? Well I have another option. I say the American family and the working class are "Too Important to Fail." And maybe the government should acknowledge that fact by extending the period of time over which the middle class and the working poor can take home that extra two percent of their pay check that just might mean paying the rent or mortgage for another month or two, or being able to keep fresh, healthy food in the house for their children.

Washington has done much over the years to diminish the value of American labor and to make it ever more difficult to earn a decent living, save a little money and provide opportunities for the next generation. I say that, while times are hard and families are struggling to make ends meet, the government should allow them to keep the two percent payroll tax and I am ready to go back to Washington, end this recess and get that done for the American people. We don't have another moment to waste.

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