This legislation is intended to create jobs, while patching a few of the strands in our badly torn safety net during this time of high unemployment.
It would maintain jobs in state agencies, create jobs by extending the TANF Emergency Fund, make sure the National Housing Trust Fund has the money it needs to build and rehabilitate housing units for extremely-low-income households, and give tax incentives to small businesses to hiring new employees. It would also extend unemployment benefits to hundreds of thousands of recipients who have reached, or are approaching the end of their time limit, and extend the subsidies for COBRA, allowing those on unemployment to continue to purchase health insurance.
The bill passed the House in December 2009 with all of the above provisions. But after months of debate and amendments, the Senate has not been able to pass the bill before leaving for the July 4 recess.
The advocacy community is outraged that the Senate had agreed to a $9.7 billion reduction to SNAP (food stamps) as an offset to the emergency spending in the bill. How could senators suggest denying families facing food insecurity supplemental food, while supporting special interest tax breaks in the bill to attract votes? Some examples of the tax earmarks currently buried in the bill include:
- accelerated depreciation for motorsports entertainment complexes;
- tax credits for many film and television productions;
- tax credits on income earned on business operations overseas;
- decrease in the amount of taxes on distilled spirits from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Senators need pressure from their constituents to come to grips with the needs of the most vulnerable members of our communities, and make decisions to promote the common good rather than the welfare of corporate special interests.
H.R. 4213 must be redesigned so that it includes:
- an extension of Unemployment Benefits through the end of 2010, with no reduction in the weekly payment;
- an extension of COBRA support through the end of 2010;
- an extension of the TANF emergency fund through the end of 2011;
- capitalization of the National Housing Trust Fund and the vouchers required for households to be able to rent the units;
- immediate funding for summer jobs for youth;
- funding for FMAP to help states retain public employees.