Economy & Budget

If we are going to recover from this recession, small business will lead the way (Rep. Erik Paulsen)

We are losing jobs at an alarming rate. Unemployment is now at 9.5% and is expected to increase, which means more and more families will struggle to make ends meet. In fact, President Obama has now acknowledged that unemployment will continue to “tick up for several months.” This is the most difficult economic situation most of us have seen in our lifetime and I believe Congress and the Administration have missed critical opportunities to address this issue by ignoring the most important component of the solution: small business.

Small businesses are most significant job creators in our economy; responsible for creating nearly seven out of ten new jobs in the United States. If we are going to recover from this recession, small business will lead the way.


Growing innovative businesses (Rep. David Wu)

After 20 years, even successful programs often need a tune up. That’s just what the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program got last week when the House updated it to help grow innovative small businesses and insure that American innovators can compete more easily in today’s changing global economy. SBIR will now be better equipped to help America’s entrepreneurs commercialize innovative technologies, creating new products and new American jobs.

Key changes to SBIR include increasing the size of early- and mid-stage program awards to reflect the actual costs of doing high-tech research and increasing the program’s flexibility by allowing cross-agency awards and allowing applicants to apply directly for Phase II funding.


Defense contractors’ multi-million dollar one-two punch to save F-22

The Senate today delayed until probably tomorrow the vote on an amendment from Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) to cut funding for the F-22 fighter jet.

It shouldn’t be a tough vote. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the 187 F-22s now in the Air Force fleet or in production are sufficient to combat current and future threats and more are not needed. McCain and Levin agree, and so does President Obama.


How to provide relief for small airports (Rep. Adrian Smith)

Last week I introduced H.R. 3159, the Small Airport Relief Act, legislation designed to ensure federal funding remains at current levels for small, regional airports.

Many smaller, mostly rural, airports utilize the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants for capital improvement projects and safety enhancements. Airports which reach 10,000 boarders in a calendar year receive $1 million in grant funds, while airports boarding fewer than 10,000 passengers are eligible for $150,000.

My legislation would place a two-year moratorium on the FAA’s 10,000 boarding requirement, allowing airports which reached the threshold in calendar year 2008 to continue to receive their applicable AIP funding. It is the House version of S. 1202, introduced by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE).


Fiscal responsibility is the best policy (Rep. Frank Lucas)

Recently, the Obama Administration and Speaker Pelosi have joined many of their colleagues to call for yet another “economic stimulus” package, like the one passed in February of this year, as a means to encourage economic growth.

As a reminder, the first “economic stimulus” package cost the American taxpayers a whopping $789.5 billion. And since that money needed to be borrowed, the interest drove the total cost to around one trillion dollars. One trillion dollars. I’m not quite sure when that dramatic dollar amount became so common place, but it is still troubling for me to hear. President Obama and Speaker Pelosi promised the American people this legislation would create between three and four million jobs and pull this country out of economic recession.

Yet, here we are, four months later and the unemployment rate has increased, not decreased. In the month of June alone, a staggering 467,000 Americans lost their job, raising this country’s unemployment rate to 9.5 percent.


Biden's disingenuous message to Ohioans (Rep. John Boehner)

Yesterday Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Cincinnati with a disingenuous message, telling the people of the Queen City that the bloated trillion-dollar "stimulus" spending bill rammed through Congress by Speaker Pelosi and the Obama Administration five months ago is succeeding in its mission. The Vice President’s rhetoric flies in the face of the tough reality the people of our state are confronting on a daily basis. In selling the “stimulus,” the Obama Administration promised jobs would be created immediately—within "weeks and months"—and said enactment of the trillion-dollar spending bill would prevent the national unemployment rate from going above 8 percent.

Five months later, these promises have been shattered. Job losses have continued to climb. The national unemployment rate is now 9.5 percent. Ohio’s unemployment rate is more than 10 percent, up significantly from where it stood at the time the “stimulus” was proposed, and we continue to hemorrhage jobs at a staggering rate.

The Reducing Barack Obama’s Unsustainable Deficit Act (Rep. Tom Price)

Jobs are being lost everyday, the deficit continues to explode and the American people are angry.

It’s now been six months since President Obama moved into the White House and in that short time, we have seen all his economic policies fall flat on their face. The unemployment rate has skyrocketed to 9.5%, and the stimulus package has been defined by delays, fraud, and poor management.

New York's nursing shortage (Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand)

As Congress focuses on comprehensive health care reform, one thing needs to be clear: We cannot fix health care if we do not address America's nursing shortage. If we're going to be able to provide access to quality, affordable health care to every American - we need to have the trained health care professionals inside hospitals to provide that care.

We have a serious nursing shortage in New York State and right here in New York City. Hospitals and other health care providers are experiencing vacancies today, and over the next 10 years, we're on a path for the problem to only get worse as the need for nurses grows.

The Big Question, June 23: Healthcare and climate change?

The Big Question for Tuesday, June 23:
Will Democrats be able to pass both of their two top priorities, healthcare and climate change legislation, by year’s end? Why or why not?

Read responses below from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Dean Baker, John Castellani, and Tom McClusky.

Read the last Big Question here.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said:
“Let’s talk about that. The climate-change proposal was roundly rejected in a bipartisan fashion because it would create a 618-something billion dollar cap-and-trade tax. And it is an approach nobody has ever taken before that would really hurt the consumer and American business. So their approach is not going to go anywhere, but we could get something along the Warner-Lieberman approach–[that] might get passed.

“On healthcare I think the one thing I can tell you is that the public, government option is not going to make it. That’s all I can tell you. I think there’s a lot of talk about different approaches but the government option will kill private-sector competition. I think that has met its demise. I hope.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), said:
You’ll recall that the leadership was [for] doing it before the August recess, and that is looking increasingly less likely. I think it depends on what the attitude of the democratic leadership is, and the White House. Do they want to do these things in a bipartisan way or do they want to just try to jam them? I think the extent to which they try to jam them in a partisan fashion makes it less likely things are going to get done in a partisan way.

I think there’ll be an effort to pass healthcare reform by the end of the year. I think we should, assuming it’s the right kind of reform. READ THE FULL RESPONSE HERE.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)
“My wife is a mind reader better than me, but  I would say that both are problematic because of the cost component and the divisions that I see on their side.”

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), said:
It’s an ambitious agenda. I think we have a chance of doing both, I think it’s hard to do both, but I think we have a chance. It’s like with healthcare. We have a problem in healthcare, the only to fix the problem is to try to fix it, and we’re trying. We have senators meeting around the clock now trying to work through the healthcare bill. They’re trying very, very hard to get something done. So when you have senators in here working together trying to get something done, you don’t have a guarantee you’re going to get a bill that will pass, but at least you’re making a really good effort. I think they’re making a good effort. I’m realistic about it, because I know how hard it is, but I think we have a shot for by the end of the year.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
“I think I don’t know. I mean, I know I don’t know. Because it’s a matter of trying to get through a whole bunch of important things in terms of healthcare. It’s not just about what’s the mechanism to insure the people who are currently uninsured. You’ve got to also have the underlying reform of the delivery system. You’ve got to figure out the cost. Who pays and how much? So that’s a major challenge. If the stars align, perhaps it’s possible.

“Energy being the other one, well it seems things are moving along at least on the Senate side. It’s something that might be able to get bipartisan support. We’ll just have to see as more information comes out about what the bill consists of.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said:
“I don’t know. It’s too early to tell.”

Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), said:
Unless they figure out how they’re going to pay for healthcare, unless they figure out a way of doing climate change that does not create an energy tax, then I think they are both in trouble.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said:
[laughing] “Time will tell.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), said:
That’s our goal. We have the president’s support.

Dean Baker, co-director for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:
“The Democrats will pass both, the only question is whether the bills they end up passing will be worth anything.

President Obama has put his prestige on the line to push both health care reform and climate change legislation. However, he also has indicated a willingness to compromise to get bills through Congress.

Compromise is fine, but a health care plan without a serious public plan that constrain costs is a joke. Similiarly, a climate change bill with so many loopholes that it doesn’t reduce emissions is also a joke.

Unfortunately, both outcomes are real possibilities and more likely than the possibility that nothing passes Congress.”

John Castellani, President of the Business Roundtable, said:
Health care and climate change legislation aren’t just Democratic priorities, they’re national imperatives. As the CEOs of America’s leading companies, Business Roundtable members see firsthand the impact these two issues have on our nation’s workers and on our competitiveness in the world market. We must address them by year’s end. As providers of health care to nearly 35 million Americans, our members support comprehensive health care reform that reduces costs for workers and businesses, while making coverage more accessible. In terms of climate change, we know it is a direct threat to our planet and our current way of life and we are committed as business leaders to immediate action to limit GHG emissions and put us on a more sustainable path. Business Roundtable stands ready to work with policymakers from both sides of the aisle and the Administration to address these critical issues so that America’s citizens, communities and companies can prosper together.

Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President of FRC Action, said:
“Forecast cloudy - bad for taxpayer health”

TARP must have an expiration date (Rep. Jerry Moran)

As the government continues spending money and building an unprecedented U.S. debt, I introduced the Government Ownership Exit Plan Act of 2009. This is companion legislation to a bill introduced in the Senate by Sen. John Thune that sets a date to remove the federal government from its ownership of private companies.

By July 1, 2010, the government will be relieved of it’s ownership of private entities that it acquired under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and will require the U.S. Treasury Department to sell any government ownership stake, such as warrants, preferred stock, or common stock, from a private entity. If the Treasury Secretary determines the assets are undervalued AND there is a reasonable expectation that the assets will increase to their original purchase value, the Secretary may hold the assets for up to one additional year. What’s more, this bill prohibits the government from making any management decisions for the private businesses in which it already has an ownership interest.