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An update from the office of
U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
8th Congressional District of Massachusetts

Congressman Capuano's

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January 23, 2009

A New Administration

On Tuesday I watched with pride as our new President took the oath of office. It was an historic occasion marked by a sense of renewal and purpose. Like many of you, I am very hopeful that President Obama will take our country in a better direction and am looking forward to being part of that process as a Member of Congress.

Troubled Asset Relief Program

This week the House took two votes related to the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The first was a Wednesday vote on H.R. 384: TARP Reform and Accountability Act. This legislation amends the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) established as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Its goal is to increase accountability and transparency for the use of the designated funds as well as provide more relief for homeowners facing foreclosure.

As I reported last week, I proposed a number of provisions that were added to the bill, including language clarifying that one to four unit family homes fit the definition of "residential properties", making them eligible for participation in the foreclosure mitigation program. Renters also receive some protection with the inclusion of a measure that prevents any entity taking over a foreclosed home from evicting tenants for 90 days.

I also worked with my colleagues to include language for strict rules on compensating executives of TARP recipient institutions, including prohibiting golden parachutes, curbing the reward of risky behavior, and allowing the recovery of bonuses based on false earnings. These measures were also applied earlier to automakers receiving government funds. In addition, language was added prohibiting recipient institutions to merge unless federal regulators determined it would reduce risk to taxpayers or that the merger could have occurred without the use of TARP funds. I voted YES on H.R. 384. The legislation passed and will now move to the Senate for consideration. The entire vote is recorded below:





















On Thursday the House considered H.J.Res. 3: Relating to the disapproval of obligations under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. A "YES" vote on this measure meant that the Member did not wish to grant the Obama Administration access to the second $350 billion in funding authorized by the October legislation. A "NO" vote was an agreement to provide access to the money.

After much deliberation, I voted "NO", which will allow the new Administration to use those funds to stabilize the economy if they deem it necessary. I have many concerns about the way that the first $350 billion was used, as I have stated in the past. In the final analysis however, I felt that it was important to give President Obama the tools he may need to solve our ongoing economic crisis. His approach is significantly different than that of former President Bush. The new Administration has emphasized its commitment to increasing transparency and applying conditions to the TARP program, as well as directing $50 - $100 billion to address foreclosures.

I voted "NO". H.J. Res. 3 passed in the House, representing a vote to deny the Administration the use of the funds. However, since the resolution failed in the Senate last week, these funds will be accessible to the new Administration. The entire House vote is recorded below:





















Economic Stimulus

Deliberation continues on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, which is designed to preserve and create jobs and boost our economy. $550 billion in funds is included for targeted investments and an additional $275 billion for targeted tax cuts. The proposed legislation includes over $43 billion for transportation needs such as bridge repairs, road improvements and transit development. According to initial estimates, Massachusetts should receive just over $1 billion for transportation needs alone. If you are interested in learning more about the details of this stimulus package, you may visit the House Appropriations Committee's website, as well as at the Committee of Ways and Means website. This legislation has been making its way through relevant committees and is expected to be considered in the House next week.

Economic Roundtable

On Friday I hosted an economic roundtable to talk about the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the pending stimulus package and how measures taken so far have impacted the economy. You may recall that I hosted a similar gathering in October. More than 25 participants from academia, labor and industry took time out of their busy schedules to share their opinions and I am grateful for the opportunity to hear from them.

There was broad agreement on the need for an economic stimulus package with an emphasis on job creation and retention, as opposed to a focus on tax incentives. Much of the two-hour session was devoted to a discussion of the TARP Program and whether it has been effective so far. Many felt that it was too early to gauge the true impact of TARP, and some felt that additional money may indeed be needed to stabilize our financial system.

As with the previous roundtable, broad agreement also emerged on the need for an enhanced regulatory system and a renewed focus on stabilizing the housing market. Far too many Americans continue to live on verge of foreclosure and not nearly enough has been done to address that ongoing problem. I expected and received a wide range of opinion on the issues facing our economy and I look forward to additional discussions.

What's Up Next

Next week, the House is expected to consider the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.

Congressman Mike Capuano
8th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services
Committee on House Administration

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