Dear Mr. Elenburg:
Thank you for contacting me about efforts to stimulate the economy. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this important matter.
As you know, the Congress recently passed—and President Barack Obama signed into law—the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111–5) along partisan lines. I could not support this legislation, which increases the size and scope of the federal government, adds over $1 trillion to the federal deficit, and fails to reduce the tax burden on all working families and small businesses. In fact, this legislation will increase Texans share of the national debt by almost $90 billion and according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, will have a negative impact on economic growth over the next ten years.
Nonetheless, I remain committed to finding real solutions that will have an immediate, positive impact on the economy. During the Senate’s debate of P.L. 111–5, I supported an amendment that would have helped address the struggling housing market. The Fix Housing First Amendment (S.Amdt. 353) would have made 4 to 4.5 percent mortgages available to every creditworthy American in an effort to ease the pressure on family budgets. Millions of Texans would have qualified for this refinancing option—translating into an average $300 reduction in the monthly mortgage payments of middle-class families. Additionally, this amendment would have created a $15,000 homebuyer tax credit for the purchase of any principle residence and would have encouraged lenders to modify privately held mortgages, a provision that would have helped stem the number of foreclosures. Finally, S.Amdt. 353 would have put in place a number of critical tax incentives, aimed at creating jobs and spurring small business investment. Unfortunately, S.Amdt. 353 was not included in the final version of P.L. 111–5.
Furthermore, excessive taxation hinders job creation for small businesses and overburdens taxpayers during difficult economic times. According to the Tax Foundation, taxpayers worked almost four months last year to pay for government operations. This is more than what they worked to pay for food, clothing and housing combined. As such, I offered an amendment to P.L. 111–5 that would have lowered the 10 percent tax bracket to 5 percent. This proposal would have provided tax relief to every Texan who pays the federal income tax. Hard-working Texans deserve to keep more of their own money to spend, save, and invest how they see fit. Although the Senate failed to adopt my amendment, I will continue working to provide broad-based tax relief to all Americans.
Finally, I understand the frustration of American taxpayers regarding Congress' inability to restrain spending—the primary factor contributing to the budget deficit and our national debt. Like you, I am concerned about the long term effects of excessive government spending, often on wasteful, ineffective government programs. In an effort to be a better steward of tax dollars, Congress must eliminate government waste and fraud and restrain runaway spending. Although P.L. 111–5 included some meritorious funding initiatives, I believe that any programmatic funding should be openly debated during the annual appropriations process. While I am not a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over the annual appropriations bills that allocate federal spending, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that all Texans are well served.
I appreciate having the opportunity to represent the interests of Texans in the United States Senate, and as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, you may be certain that I will keep your views in mind should relevant legislation be considered during the 111th Congress. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
United States Senator