James P. Moran
American Recovery Stimulus Package
Congress and President Obama moved swiftly to craft an economic package designed to create or save 3.5 million jobs, cut taxes for 95% of workers and invest in an historic transformation of our economy. For the Commonwealth, the bill means the creation and preservation of 116,580 jobs, an $890 million transportation upgrade for projects like Dulles Rail and $800 million for local school construction.
At the national level here are a couple specific provisions that stand out:
- Homebuyers: First-time homebuyers who purchase this calendar year get an $8,000 tax credit. The credit phases out for people making more than $75,000 individually or $150,000 jointly. “First-time homebuyer” is defined as someone who has not owned a home for the past three years.
- Metro Commuters: Permitted to set aside $230 per month pretax for Metro rail and bus
- High-speed and inner-city rail: $8 billion allocated.
- Foreclosures: $2 billion for a neighborhood stabilization program that helps areas plagued with foreclosures by buying back properties to prevent blight.
- Car buyers: Customers can deduct the sales tax on a new car purchased in 2009. To qualify, buyer must make less than $125,000 individually or $250,000 jointly.
- College tax credits: Individuals making less than $80,000 or families making less than $160,000 can get up to $2,500 in tax credits for college tuition. Pell Grants will be increased to $5,350 for the next 2 years.
- Tax credits: Anyone making $75,000 individually or $150,000 as a family will get a refundable tax credit up to $400 per person or $800 per family.
- Retiree Tax Credits: Retirees and individuals on disability are eligible for a $250 refundable tax credit in 2009.
- Oversight: To ensure taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately, the legislation created a board to oversee all stimulus spending. Hundreds of inspectors general will be tapped at the various government agencies to track spending decisions. Separately, President Obama created the www.recovery.gov website that provides the public full transparency and accountability of the process.
Telephone Town Hall Mtg; Next Tuesday Feb 24th
(Preceding President’s Live 9PM Address to Congress)
Next Tuesday, February 24th from 7:30PM – 8:30PM I will be hosting a telephone town hall meeting to discuss the economy and other pressing national issues. If you’ve never participated in a telephone town hall, they’re a lot of fun and easy to do. To join in, next Tuesday at 7:30PM just call (877) 229-8493 and when directed, enter the Pin # 12765. You’ll be able to listen in toll free for as long as you like and, when prompted, can ask me a question directly on the topic of your concern.
Unveiling new Animal Protection Caucus
Growing up in a family of eight, we had dogs, cats, fish, and an assortment of other domestic and wild critters at one point or another. These early interactions taught me that animals are sensate beings, deserving of our respect and affection, and to be protected from undue harm. As a strong supporter of animal rights issues in Congress I was proud to announce this week the unveiling of the new “Animal Protection Caucus” which I will be co-chairing with Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA). In the 110th Congress, animal protection supporters were instrumental in passing tougher animal fighting legislation, and tightening animal welfare regulations in the 2008 Farm Bill. Priorities for the caucus in this Congress include legislation banning the slaughter of horses, stronger regulations on internet sales of puppies, and legislation requiring accurate labels on all fur products. We’ve made a lot of progress in recent years but many issues remain outstanding in order to adequately protect animals in our society and around the world.
Introduce Federal Employees Sick Leave Legislation
Teaming with Rep. Frank Wolf, we introduced the “FERS Sick Leave Equity Act” (H.R. 958) which provides federal employees under the FERS retirement system a sick leave benefit equal to that of employees under the CSRS retirement system. The benefit adds any unused sick leave at retirement to the number of years an employee has worked for the purposes of determining their annuity. The reason for this legislation can be captured with a simple poll. While 85% of employees in the CSRS system (which has a sick leave benefit) say they conserve as much sick leave as possible, 75% of FERS employees surveyed said they used as much as possible because their is no incentive not to. This phenomenon is costing taxpayers $68 million a year in productivity losses and increased training costs. Our federal workforce is the best in the world; they deserve a benefit designed to reward, not punish, those who play by the rules. I look forward to pursuing this legislation in the coming year.