McConnell: Fix Housing Crisis First

Saturday, 31 Jan 2009 09:26 PM

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The transcript of the Republican Party's weekly radio address, as delivered Saturday by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

"This is Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Earlier this week, President Obama came to Capitol Hill to speak with members of my party about his plan for an economic recovery bill. The President said that a stimulus package is needed to revive the nation's troubled economy, and to help the millions of Americans who've been affected by it. And Republicans in Congress agree.

"Every day brings more news of layoffs, home foreclosures, and shuttered businesses. The Labor Department this week reported job losses in all 50 states in the month of December. In California alone, almost 80,000 people are newly out of work. And across the country, employers are cutting to the bone even at businesses that most Americans never thought were vulnerable.

"A problem that started on Wall Street is reaching deeper and deeper into Main Street. And the President is counting on members of Congress to come together in a spirit of bipartisanship to act. Unfortunately, the plan that Democrats in Congress put forward this week falls far short of the President's vision for a bill that creates jobs and puts us on a path to long-term economic health.

"Turning aside Republican ideas, Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives produced a massive bill that many analysts say is unlikely to create new jobs or boost the economy anytime soon. Most of the infrastructure projects it includes won't impact the economy for at least another year. Permanent spending would be expanded by about $240 billion, an increase that would lock in bigger and bigger deficits every year. And the bill is loaded with wasteful spending:

  • $20 million for the removal of fish-passage barriers.

  • $25 million to improve All Terrain Vehicle trails.

  • $34 million to renovate the Department of Commerce building in Washington.

  • And $600 million to buy new cars for government workers.

    "The task for Democrats in the House was to craft a stimulus plan that was timely, targeted, and temporary. Apparently, they didn't get the memo. The bill they presented -- and which House Democrats approved this week along a party line vote -- looks more like a $1 trillion Christmas list.

    "At a time when Americans are worried about holding onto their jobs and their homes, and learning to live with less, politicians in Washington shouldn't be spending taxpayer dollars on new cars for government workers or sprucing up federal buildings in Washington. And that's why Republicans are suggesting a simpler, more targeted plan that gets right at the heart of the economic crisis.

    "Most economists agree that falling home values are the underlying cause of the recent downturn. Republicans think we need to fix this problem before we do anything else. So first, we propose providing government-backed, 4% fixed mortgages to any credit-worthy borrower. The availability of these low-interest loans would increase demand for houses significantly. And low interest mortgages would boost household income. The average family would see its monthly mortgage payment drop by $466 a month, or $5,600 a year. Over the life of a 30-year loan, that's a savings of $167,760.

    "Next, in order to get money into the economy quickly, Republicans would cut income tax rates for working Americans right away. The federal government currently imposes a 10% tax on married couples for income up to $16,700. Republicans would cut that rate in half, putting about $500 into the pocket of every working family. Income between $16,700 and $67,900 is now taxed at 15%. Republicans would cut that rate to 10%. This would put another $1,100 into the pockets of working couples. Single filers would get similar rate reductions. But either way, everyone who works and pays income tax would see an immediate increase in pay.

    "Republicans are committed to working with President Obama to steer Americans out of the current economic troubles. We believe the best way to do that is to stabilize housing prices, cut your mortgage payments, and let you keep more of what you earn. And as Congress considers the best way forward, on behalf of the American taxpayer, these are the principles Republicans will pursue.

    "Thanks for listening."

    -

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