As I traveled the District this week a lot of people were asking themselves "Where did the summer go?" Even though high temperatures are still hanging around, darkness is coming earlier and the trees are shedding leaves already. Today we launch into October and the final quarter of the year.
Since the next and final session of the 112th Congress does not convene until mid-November, this October presents a great opportunity to really settle in and reconnect with you and the issues that matter most.
Having spent roughly half the year here at home and the other half in Washington D.C., I am blessed to be able to continue our discussions and "take the temperature" of the region.
Though Washington keeps trying to sell a story that the worst is over with unemployment and our economy, the people I am spending time with are not buying it. Individuals and business owners are filled with angst and are attempting to navigate a sea of uncertainty caused by an over-taxed and over-regulated business climate -- with the prospect of implementing the President's onerous Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act thrown in for good measure.
A Citrus Heights real estate agent came up to me at the close of a Rotary Club of Citrus Heights luncheon last week and expressed her concern about the possible expiration of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, which has been in effect since 2007. Many others have expressed the concern that we must extend this Act, which makes it possible for distressed sellers to avoid taxes on the principal reduction when they are involved in a short sale or loan modification. I have assured her and others I have introduced legislation to extend this Act. This is no time to make things even worse for "underwater" homeowners who must sell or modify loans.
Other concerns included the negative impact of sequestration-induced defense cuts and the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for everybody.
Following the sad and alarming news of closures and troubles for Sacramento Region companies such as Comcast, Campbell Soup and Vision Services Plan, this is hardly the time to be sending soldiers and defense workers into unemployment or raising taxes on anyone.
During my most recent round of Business Tour visits my staff and I were in Rancho Cordova to meet with both business owners and groups of employees. Speaking before these groups I was encouraged by them to do everything within my power to reduce the taxes and legislation that seem to have contributed to the recent troubles facing Sacramento employers.
Though I have been speaking out against all of these obstacles to business success for some time, only recently have I begun to hear local media echo these concerns. Beginning with the departure of Waste Connections from Folsom earlier this year to Texas, sadly we have been able to connect enough bad news dots so we can begin to see a pattern. It is time to work together and identify the troubles facing the California business climate.
When constituents ask me what we have been doing to help businesses get through these tough times I can quickly point to more than two dozen bills passed by the House that could immediately improve our economy by relieving some tax and regulatory burdens on employers here and throughout the country.
Constituents are frustrated that the Senate will neither consider these bills, nor go to the trouble to create a budget to help control spending.
The silver lining of the Sacramento Region is that there are businesses such as Stewart Tool Company of Rancho Cordova run by people who are smart, hardworking and light on their entrepreneurial feet to adjust to tough times and seize new opportunities.
For generations a classic manufacturer of tool and die work, Stewart has parlayed its expertise and assets into becoming one of the chief contributors to manufacturing airport baggage screening and bomb detection devices that keep our airports safe.
My hat is off to them for their ability to adjust, evolve and survive in these very tough times.
Daniel E. Lungren
Member of Congress