Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Today, Congressmen Dave Camp (R-MI) and Eric Cantor (R-VA) will be offering a Republican substitute to the Democrats' trillion-dollar spending bill. So you're not confused, this substitute is different from the RSC's Economic Recovery bill
I've talked about in recent posts, but still very effective in reducing tax rates for all Americans and stimulating the economy. It's certainly a better cure for what ails us than the Democrats big spending package.
Below are a few of the highlights of the Camp/Cantor substitute, and how it will impact Minnesotans and families across America . The legislation will reduce the lowest individual tax rates from 15% to 10% and from 10% to 5%.
As a result, every taxpaying-family in America will see an immediate increase in their income with an average benefit of $500 in tax relief from the drop in the 10% bracket and $1,200 for the drop in the 15% bracket. A married couple filing jointly could save up to $3,200 a year in taxes. And according to research done by The Heritage Foundation, 272,306 filers in Minnesota’s 6th District will benefit from the reduction in the 10% bracket and 228,926 filers will benefit from the reduction in the 15% and the 10% brackets. The legislation allows small business to take a tax deduction equal to 20% of their income.
In fact, small businesses (those employing less than 500 individuals) employ about half of all Americans, yet they can be subject to tax rates that siphon away one-third or more of their income. This legislation will immediately free up funds for small businesses to retain and hire new employees. In Minnesota, there are 498,606 small businesses with 500 or fewer employees and according to the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, they represent 98.0% of the state’s employers while having created 78.4% of the state’s net new jobs from 2004 to 2005. It's vital that we lower the tax burden on these small businesses. The legislation also includes a home-buyers credit of $7,500 for those buyers who can make a minimum down-payment of 5%.
This credit will go a long way in giving potential buyers the incentive they need to purchase homes now to help turn around our stagnant real estate market.
For more information about the plan, check out the website
for the Office of the Republican Whip.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Today, the House is set to vote on the Democrat's $825-billion dollar "stimulus" package that according to them is primed to immediately jump start the economy. But as we know, there are serious doubts from respected economists
about the bill's ability to resuscitate our stagnant economy.
Republicans at the House Ways and Means Committee have done some great work breaking down 1)
the percentage of tax cuts and government spending that reaches the economy under the Democrat “stimulus” bill, and 2)
the difference in tax relief that American families, workers and businesses would receive from the Democrat and the Republican plans comparatively.
Here's a link to their research
that lays out their case perfectly with graphs to match.
I'll close the post with the Committee's "Bottom Line"
from their research:
"The nonpartisan CBO confirms that tax cuts get more money into the hands of American families and our economy faster than government spending. The American people know tax cuts are a better way to stimulate the economy than borrowing money from China just to increase federal spending and raise the federal deficit. If the Speaker was interested in answering the President’s call to reach a bipartisan, American solution to this crisis, she would work with Republicans to increase tax relief for every working American—which is what the Republican alternative does."
Monday, January 26, 2009
Last Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee concluded their markup of H.R. 598, the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan
. Here's what Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had to say about it
: "This week, the Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce Committees held markups on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to include important feedback from Members to improve the package."
If you were to take his words at face value, you'd think that the resulting bill is a remarkable example of bipartisanship and mutual give and take between the parties. However, the facts tell a different story. Only 1 of 18 Republican Amendments
that were offered as part of the stimulus package were accepted by the majority. What happened to the rest? REJECTED… WITH ONLY ONE DEMOCRAT
supporting ONLY ONE
of the remaining 17 measures.
This blatant lack of bipartisanship combined with new restrictive rules put in place by the Democrat majority to silence the Republicans is why my office is launching a new blog called the Majority Tracker
. With the Democrats in control of Washington, it’s vital that the Republican minority not only present its own alternatives, but that Americans know what those alternatives are. The goal of the blog is to serve as a one-stop-shop for bloggers, reporters, and constituents to get the whole story of what’s taking place in the U.S. House of Representatives.
For more information on the 18 Republican amendments
to the Democrats' stimulus package and for detailed accounts of what's happened in the House since the start of the 111th Congress, check out the Majority Tracker
Thursday, January 22, 2009
All we hear from the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress is the need for a multi-hundred-billion dollar economic stimulus plan to turn around our economy. According to them, the longer we wait, the more we'll inevitably have to spend to turn the economy around. What's most troubling about the Obama plan is that some of the very people who work for him don't even think it will work.
In fact, while under the leadership of the man that Obama just hired to be his Budget Director – the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Obama's stimulus plan won't work
. In fact, the CBO concluded that there are serious doubts that the bulk of the spending would have any immediate effect on our economy.
According to a recent Bloomberg.com article:"A Congressional Budget Office analysis of President Barack Obama ’s plan found that most of the approximately $355 billion in proposed discretionary spending on highways, renewable energy and other initiatives wouldn’t be spent before 2011. The government would spend about $26 billion of the money this year and $110 billion more next year, the report said. About $103 billion would be spent in 2011, while $53 billion would be spent in 2012 and $63 billion between 2013 and 2019."
The report indicates that the CBO expects a "slow" recovery to begin later this year and that the economy will expand by a "modest" 1.5 percent in 2010, so much of the stimulus may not come until after the economy has already begun to recover. If the CBO is correct, this gigantic stimulus package doesn't do much at all to stimulate the economy in the short-term despite what the Democrats say. It's simply a mechanism to implement an enormous expansion of government growth and influence. Instead of stimulating the economy to recover, this nearly $1-trillion spending bill will follow the early steps of economic recovery and add to an already large debt we’re placing on generations of taxpayers.
For a real alternative to help the sagging economy, check out The Economic Recovery and Middle-Class Tax Relief Act of 2009
The best way to stimulate the economy and create jobs is to cut wasteful spending, reduce the tax burden on small businesses and families, and keep money in the private sector. Let’s make sure it stays that way.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Yesterday, we learned that the Senate approved the use of the second half of $700-billion financial service sector bailout funds. They did so on the assumption that the Obama administration will know how to use these funds better than Bush Administration has. There's even been a lot of talk around Washington that President-elect Obama's Treasury Secretary nominee, Timothy Geithner, is the only one who could figure this out. He apparently has had problems remember to pay his taxes, but the Senate appears ready to believe that he has the right stuff to get the financial service sector back in gear.
Let's hope all this trust is well-placed. But given the mismanagement of the first half of funds and the lack of any evidence that releasing the second tranche is an appropriate step for stabilizing our financial markets and getting the markets moving again, I'm not overly optimistic.
While the Senate can release the funds without House approval, the House is currently in the process of putting in place certain new requirements and regulations regarding the application and monitoring of the new funds. As part of that process, I introduced yesterday an amendment to H.R. 384, the TARP Reform and Accountability Act. My amendment would keep in place taxpayer protections passed as part of the HOPE for Homeowners program, which was meant to address the foreclosure problem even before the TARP was enacted.
When Congress passed the HOPE for Homeowners program last year, I was concerned that the taxpayer protections were weak, at best. But, at least there was something there to protect the taxpayers who were footing the $300 billion bill. But, now, Congress is considering H.R. 384, which would strip those provisions entirely in order to spur more participation in the program. At this time, only 13 families have been helped.
The taxpayer protection provisions include requiring program participants to pay premiums that are used to sustain the program. H.R. 384 completely eliminates the upfront premiums and gives the FHA the authority to waive annual premiums as it sees fit. This taxpayer protection has been regularly touted by supporters of HOPE for Homeowners as a critical taxpayer safeguard.
Another important taxpayer protection stripped by H.R. 384, but secured by my amendment would ensure that taxpayers receive a home equity appreciation share as payment for their investment through HOPE for Homeowners. If homeowners who receive assistance through the program benefit from rising home values, they shouldn't be able to make a profit without paying back the taxpayers who lent them a helping hand to keep their homes in the first place.
Not surprisingly, the amendment was defeated on a nearly party-line vote. I guess it's just another example of the Democrats' “commitment to protect middle-class taxpayers."
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Any minute now, the House will be voting on H.R. 2, the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2009. While I support the goals of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the bill on the floor reauthorizes it in a grossly irresponsible manner. At a time when the American people need responsible government more than ever, I can not in good conscience support this bill’s passage.
SCHIP was intended to ensure that children who have no means to obtain health care can gain access to it. The program was intended to cover those kids first and foremost. H.R. 2 makes no such provisions.
According to the non-partisan CBO, this bill will entice roughly 2.4 million people to drop their private insurance coverage in lieu of the taxpayer funded program. This is a serious problem, as SCHIP funds will be diverted from those low-income families who need it the most and will have the effect of making private insurance even more unaffordable.
Even worse, the sustainability of the bill depends on a very shaky revenue source. In fact, it’s a source that Congress is doing its best to get rid of all together – cigarettes. The bill is paid for primarily through a $0.61 increase in the federal tobacco excise tax, from $0.39 to $1.00. With less people smoking as a result of high taxes and health ramifications, how does the government plan to sustain funding for the program? Only Congress could produce such a flawed line of reasoning.
What we have in front of us today is a bill that was given very little opportunity for debate with absolutely no opportunity for amendment. If nothing else, it's another fine example of the Democrats' abysmal view of bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Democrat leadership in Congress and President-Elect Barack Obama have made it perfectly clear that they are dead set on renewing the Death Tax rather than letting it expire in 2010. An editorial in today's Wall Street Journal
does a nice job detailing the ins-and-outs of the death tax and it's impact on the struggling middle-class businesses that Obama and the Democrats say they want to protect.
Democrats want to make the current death tax rate of 45% permanent, and while the Democrats like to portray the tax as targeted to those super-wealthy folks like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, that is simply not the case. According the WSJ piece:"The death tax strikes most heavily at small- and medium-sized family-owned businesses that generate the majority of new American jobs. So hitting these family businesses with a multimillion dollar tax bill when the owner dies won't help job creation."
I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 205, the Death Tax Repeal Act
, just reintroduced in the House. Don't let the them fool you with their messaging -- this tax isn't about the wealthy. It impacts family farms and businesses -- the lifeline of Main Street that is vital to a healthy economy. With the economy in such a fragile state, renewing this tax will continue to hamper the economic prospects of our nation. Let's let the death tax die, once and for all.
Friday, January 09, 2009
Today, the House passed the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act at the urging of its Democrat leadership. While these bills sound well and good by name alone, the fact of the matter is that they do nothing for the struggling American worker and go a long way in lining the pockets of a key political ally of the House majority– trial lawyers.
The truth of the matter is that there are effective and sufficient payment discrimination laws already on the books. These bills simply make it easier to file lawsuits – whether they’re frivolous or well-founded. And, it makes it harder for employers to defend themselves.
The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act eliminates the statute of limitations on pay-discrimination claims currently set in place by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. As a result, the number of frivolous pay-discrimination claims in future years is likely to skyrocket since older claims are more subject to faded memories, missing documents, unfound witnesses, and businesses that have changed hands or no longer exist.
The Paycheck Fairness Act expands the Equal Pay Act to provide for unlimited punitive and compensatory damages to a successful plaintiff. Worst of all, it moves the burden of proof to the employer. Instead of the employee having to prove they were discriminated against, they simply will be able to make the allegation and the employer has to prove that they acted out of “business necessity.” Furthermore, the employer defense would be negated if an employee could show that another employment practice could have yielded a non-pay-differential result. This removes key business decisions from employers and gives them to a judge and jury.
But that’s not all. The true intent of the bill – to generate more lawsuits and line the pockets of trial lawyers – is made most clear in its provisions expanding class action lawsuits. These provisions are plainly designed to ensure that plaintiffs’ lawyers get the “most bang for their buck” in bringing class-action lawsuits rather than protecting the paychecks of American workers.
And the only Republican amendment allowed to be offered by the Democrat majority – a commonsense amendment that would have capped attorney’s fees at $2000 an hour in cases brought under the Paycheck Fairness Act – was rejected on a nearly party-line vote.
It's a shame that the Democrat majority found it more worthwhile to protect their political allies than the American worker desperately depending on job growth. Instead of fostering a business environment where jobs can flourish, these bills severely hamper the ability of American business to increase our nation's prosperity.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
In about an hour, the 111th Congress will be sworn into office and the first matter we will take up is consideration of the new House Rules Package. Not only does the new package miss the opportunity to make important improvements to the earmarking and budgeting processes, such as increased transparency, it also essentially shuts off debate and prevents Republicans from proposing policy alternatives to the Democrat majority’s agenda.
No ifs, and, or buts about it - the Democrats are denying debate through gimmicks and legislative maneuvering, suppressing alternative ideas and dissenting views.
The Democrat-controlled Congress is coming off two years of abysmal leadership that denied the opportunity for debate more than any other Congress in our nation's history. Speaker Pelosi promised Americans transparency and open government in the political process, but sadly, we've received just the opposite. And, somehow, they’ve managed to make it even worse.
But, the restrictions on debate and the roadblock to alternative ideas are just where the bad news begins.
The Democrats are actually rewriting the rules to make it easier to spend your money and harder to cut your taxes.
Their rewrite of the “pay-as-you-go” rule includes a provision to tax and entitlement bills to be “packaged” together for purposes of calculating PAYGO compliance. This insulates their proposals from having to stand against Republican alternatives and makes it easier to circumvent rules that are supposed to keep Congress from running the federal balance sheets into the red.
Furthermore, the rewrite of the PAYGO rule allows for “emergency” designation of spending. It allows anyone to designate spending as “emergency,” exempting it entirely from PAYGO enforcement. The emergency designation isn’t even debatable.
This Rules Package is anything but open and transparent and creates an express lane for Democrats to tax and spend your money with nothing and no one to stop them.