Mike on the Economy

The economy continues to be a focus of Congress and the Administration. Issues surrounding sequestration, the debt ceiling and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts have all had an impact on the economy. On the first day of 2013, the House passed legislation making the Bush tax cuts permanent for those making less than $400,000 a year and letting them expire for the highest earners. It also preserved a number of provisions such as an expanded Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and a tax credit that helps families with college tuition costs. It permanently fixed the Alternative Minimum Tax, saving millions of middle class families from paying increased taxes which they have been in danger of being subject to in recent years.

I supported the legislation that passed in 2013, although I did so with serious reservations. I voted yes because I believed it was the best compromise Congress could achieve and strongly believed that inaction would negatively impact the economy. I still think more revenue will be required to provide and pay for items like Social Security, Medicare, infrastructure and many other services.

Throughout 2013 Congress grappled with serious issues directly impacting the health of the economy. Raising the debt ceiling to address bills that have already been incurred is one recurring theme. Sequestration is another challenge. I remain committed to a balanced approach that will put us on the path to pay down the deficit and stabilize the economy, without placing the largest burden on our most vulnerable citizens.

In the fall of 2013 the Republican-led House refused to consider a fiscal year 2014 budget that did not repeal the Affordable Care Act, which led to a partial federal government shutdown. That crisis ended in mid October with the passage of legislation to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling so the United States did not default on bills it had already incurred.

In early 2014 Congress passed legislation that finally started to lessen some of the drastic cuts endured because of sequestration. It did not fully ease the burden on some programs, but it did represent a compromise.

I am committed to supporting efforts that create jobs. The federal government must do everything it can to create and save jobs by preserving vital services performed by state and local governments, supporting those who are struggling in today's economy or who are unemployed, and investing in our nation's infrastructure.

The stimulus bill, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was passed into law in 2009 to create and preserve as many jobs as possible in a difficult economy. It directed funds to states for a number of needs, including education, health care and infrastructure improvements. Over the last several years, I have encouraged my colleagues to continue to focus on measures that would create jobs through increased investment in transportation, education and job training.