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Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
8th Congressional District of Massachusetts
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December 17, 2010

Tax Cuts

Last night the House voted on the tax cut compromise negotiated by the President and Republican leadership. I voted NO. This bill provides too many unnecessary giveaways to the wealthy while failing to acknowledge the reality of our staggering federal deficit and I just could not support it. The proposal is estimated to cost the treasury $374 billion in Fiscal Year 2011 and more than $857 billion over the next ten years. And let's be honest, when the time comes to renew some of these cuts, we will renew them. If Congress and the Administration cannot muster the will to end tax cuts for the wealthy this year, how will we manage it in two years?

This bill does include some important provisions that I support, such as making sure taxes don't increase for the middle class and extending the unemployment safety net. But in the final analysis, there are just too many provisions that I believe are downright irresponsible, and that is why I voted no. I simply cannot accept an across the board extension for the wealthy few, and I do not support some of the costly and unnecessary extras, such as the estate tax changes. I've been clear that I don't believe the President negotiated the best possible compromise. But it doesn't matter how we got here anymore. What matters is how this bill will impact our country.

Our deficit is already huge and this lost revenue must be accounted for somehow. There are only two ways to do that — cut spending or raise revenue. The only way to raise revenue other than taxes is to borrow it. So we will have to borrow the money, increasing the national debt burden. We already owe China more than a trillion dollars for all the borrowing our government has done to date. I will not vote to add to that burden for the sake of giving tax cuts to the wealthiest among us.

I do not believe that we will ever allow these tax cuts to fade away — nor will we ever raise taxes enough to sustain current demand. So at some point — and I think it will be soon — we will be forced to DRASTICALLY reduce spending, and I do not believe that cutting every penny of waste, fraud and abuse will come close to balancing our budget. We will be forced to cut the meat out of many important programs.

I respect those who want to cut some discretionary social spending. I just don't agree that every program needs to be slashed. I think federal spending is necessary to provide for the common defense but I also think federal spending is necessary and appropriate to support Social Security, senior housing, education, police and fire protection, aid to cities and states and other worthwhile programs. Of course we can and should cut programs that don't work — but that will not save enough. I believe many programs will be cut quickly next year. Congress will tackle the easy items that most of us can agree on, such as reducing our Congressional office budgets. But eventually we will finish with the easy votes and get to the harder ones. What will Congress do about Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, senior housing, education, and other valuable programs? I think Congress will cut them. That's another reason why I cannot support tax cuts for wealthy Americans who don't need them.

These tax cuts have been in place since 2001, and there is no indication that they have helped the economy. They did not prevent the economic meltdown and did not prevent massive job loss. Why does anyone think these cuts will encourage any person or any business to take action they are not already planning to take? Sure, some jobs will be created over the next few months — but they would have been created without these tax cuts. We should not be mortgaging our children's future and undermining Social Security unless we can be fairly certain that these actions will change the current problems — and I do not believe that is the case.

Last night's vote is an indication of the direction we want America to go. Are we moving toward drastic cuts in every major government program, or will we continue the philosophy that grew this country over the last two generations? I will stick with the philosophy that has proven to work since the New Deal — the approach that made us the greatest nation in the world. I voted for responsibility over expediency. I voted NO. H.R. 4853 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

139

112

0

3

REPUBLICAN

138

36

0

5

TOTAL

277

148

0

8

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

2

8

0

0

Don't Ask Don't Tell

This week the House passed H.R. 2965: Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010. You may recall that in June the House voted to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell", a vote I was proud to cast. It was attached as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill. The Senate has been unable to advance the Defense bill, so the House Wednesday took up a stand-alone bill to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell in an effort to enhance its chances for Senate passage. Our men and women in uniform serve us bravely and with honor. It should matter to no one what their sexual orientation may be, and all of our service members should be able to serve their country openly. I voted YES on H.R. 2965. The entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

235

15

0

5

REPUBLICAN

15

160

0

4

TOTAL

250

175

0

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

DREAM Act

Last week the House considered H.R. 5281: the DREAM Act. This legislation is designed to address the status of young persons who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents when they themselves were small children. Those eligible would be granted conditional legal residence in the United States which could become permanent legal residence if they successfully complete two years of post-secondary education or military service. Only after thirteen years could they apply to become US citizens.

This bill is narrowly drawn and sets forth careful criteria for eligibility. It does not apply to children entering the U.S. after its passage and it does not grant automatic citizenship to anyone. It applies only to those already living in the U.S. as of the date of passage. They must have lived here for at least 5 years before the DREAM Act became law. They must also have been brought to the U.S. when they were 15 years old or younger and must be currently 29 years old or younger. It is further required that applicants have graduated from a U.S. high school, obtained a GED, been admitted to an institution of higher education, or volunteered for the armed services. They must have registered for Selective Service. Applicants must also submit biometric information and undergo a background check. Those eligible under this measure may not sponsor any family members for immigration purposes for the first ten years. Any criminal who applies for the DREAM Act will be immediately placed in deportation proceedings.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation, the DREAM Act reduces the federal deficit by $1.4B over 10 years. The increase in authorized workers would augment both individual and corporate income tax revenues, as well as social insurance taxes. Congress has not yet passed comprehensive immigration reform, and the path forward remains uncertain. In light of that, the DREAM Act is a reasonable way to help young people who did nothing wrong — they were brought here illegally with their parents, some too young to even remember. They ought to have an opportunity to resolve their legal status. They ought also to have the opportunity to contribute to our society and economy as productive adults. I voted YES. The legislation passed in the House and awaits Senate action. The entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

208

38

0

9

REPUBLICAN

8

160

0

11

TOTAL

216

198

0

20

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

0

1

Longfellow House

This week the House passed S. 1405: the Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site Redesignation Act. It was introduced in the Senate by the late Senator Kennedy. Because the site is located in my district, I sponsored a House companion version. S. 1405 came to the floor Tuesday under suspension of the rules. The bill simply redesignates the Longfellow National Historical Site in Cambridge as the "Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site." This name change further recognizes the rich history associated with the site, which is the former home of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The Longfellow House was also General George Washington's Revolutionary War headquarters during the Siege of Boston, which lasted from 1775 to 1776. I voted YES. The legislation passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

211

0

0

43

REPUBLICAN

153

0

0

26

TOTAL

364

0

0

69

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

8

0

0

2

What's up Next Week

The House is waiting for Senate action on a continuing resolution to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2011. We expect to be in session next week.


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

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