Thank you for contacting me regarding the American Recovery and Investment Act. I appreciate hearing from you and would like to respond to your
As you know, our economy is facing a number of serious challenges, and I agree with President Obama that action must be taken. However, I also believe
that elected representatives have a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used wisely as we work to address our economic challenges.
Since the beginning of this debate, I have reached out to members of both parties and worked hard to promote a responsible mixture of infrastructure
spending and targeted tax relief that would strengthen our economy and encourage job creation. Additionally, I believe that the stimulus package must
address the root of our economic woes in Florida—the housing market. Unfortunately, my efforts to improve this package in the Senate achieved only
limited success with the addition of a loan modification program to reduce the number of foreclosures and a tax credit aimed at reducing the excessive
inventory of houses on the market.
Despite these additions, the bill that came before the Senate contained far too much wasteful spending, far too little investment in critical
infrastructure, and tax cuts that were neither timely nor targeted in a way that would spur economic growth. I would have preferred more investments
in highways, bridges, roads, and military construction. Additionally, I supported a 50% cut in FICA taxes paid by every American who receives a
paycheck and a cut in corporate tax rates to encourage business investment. These tax cuts could have been easily implemented and would have
immediately stimulated our economy. However, the Democratic majority was unwilling to accept these common-sense proposals, and on February 10, 2009, I
voted against H.R.1 the American Recovery and Investment Act.
After the Senate passed H.R. 1, the legislation was considered by a Conference Committee composed of Members of both the House of Representatives and
the Senate. During the Committee’s negotiations, the beneficial housing measures I worked to add to the bill were removed. I had hoped that these
provisions would be retained and that actual improvements would be made to the legislation by the Conference Committee. Unfortunately, improvements
were not made, needed provisions addressing housing were removed, and the bill produced by the Conference Committee was, in my estimation, even less
acceptable than the original bill that the Senate passed on February 10, 2009. Although I would have preferred to support our new President on this
bill, I voted against the conference report on Friday, February 13, 2009. I simply could not in good conscience support a flawed bill that spends this
much money in such a wasteful and untargeted manner.
Florida faces very serious economic problems, and a lot of Florida families are hurting. Unemployment is nearly double digit, and every corner of the
state is suffering from the foreclosure crisis. For this reason I worked with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to improve this bill. As a former
County Mayor, I understand the budget strain and hardships that local governments are facing, but this legislation simply does not give us what we
need - a focused bill with targeted tax cuts and infrastructure spending that would be timely and actually create jobs to unleash the private
We in Florida need what the President promised: targeted, timely, and temporary spending. However, the agreement reached by Congress and the spending
it authorizes cannot be sustained. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has already forecast two trillion dollars in additional spending to help stabilize
and recapitalize our financial institutions. Therefore, it is incumbent upon Congress to get it right and put special interests and pork barrel
spending aside. Rest assured, I will continue to work with my colleagues to find ways to use the resources of the federal government in a reasonable
and responsible manner to encourage job creation, mitigate future losses, and put our housing and financial markets on the pathway to recovery.
Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. If you have additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me. In addition, for
more information about issues and activities important to Florida, please sign up for my weekly newsletter at martinez.senate.gov...
United States Senator
MOD EDIT: All caps title removed.
[edit on 20-2-2009 by TheBorg]