The new 111th Congress is off and running following last week’s inauguration of President Obama. I wanted to provide you with an update on new developments regarding issues affecting both Northern Virginia and the entire nation.
James P. Moran
Metro Relief included in TARP Reform. Language providing Metro relief from penalties related to so-called “lease-back” transactions involving the purchase of subway cars was included in the TARP Reform Act which passed the House last week. “Lease-back” transactions are contracts allowing banks to purchase Metro cars and then lease them back to the transit agency. The agreements have been severely harmed by the credit and financial crisis because many required insurance by an AAA credit rated insurance agency. When insurance giants like AIG lost their AAA ratings, the sale lease-back arrangements unraveled leaving transit agencies like Metro on the hook for hundreds of millions in penalties from the banks with whom the agreements were made.
Leading a team of Metro-friendly legislators, we were able to successfully include language in the TARP Reform bill allowing the U.S. Treasury Department to serve as the AAA rated insurer for all lease-back transit agreements. Should this become law, the transit agencies won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in penalties.
Stimulus Recovery Plan up this week. The House is poised to enact an $825 billion stimulus packagedesigned to create jobs and pull our economy out of recession. The package provides $550 billion for transportation infrastructure, aid for Medicaid, education and other public services and $275 billion for stimuluative tax cuts. Leading economists, such as Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody’s Economy.com and former adviser to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign believe that with the economic recovery plan, 3 million more jobs will be created and the unemployment rate will be 2% lower by the end of 2010. Under the plan, funding would be provided to states within one week of enactment and the states would be required to obligate at least 50% of the funds within 180 days and 100% within two years.
Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Lilly Ledbetter worked for nearly 20 years at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. She sued her employer after learning that she was paid less then her male counterparts, despite having more experience than several of them. A jury found that her employer had unlawfully discriminated against her on the basis of sex. However, the Supreme Court said that Ledbetter had waited too long to sue for pay discrimination.
The Lilly Ledbetter Act clarifies that as long as workers file their charges within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck, their charges would be considered timely. This was the law prior to the Supreme Court’s May 2007 decision. While its too late for Lilly to recieve compensation, her case has been cited in hundreds of discrimination cases, adversely impacting genuine claims of discrimination.