January 21, 2008 - Volume V Edition VIII
Members of the new 111th Congress have now been sworn in and work is underway to assemble a substantial economic stimulus program to have on the President Obama's desk in his first weeks in office.
As I write, that stimulus package will include both substantial aid to states to help cover skyrocketing unemployment and health care costs and a substantial middle-class tax cut.
The news backdrop as this work proceeds is grim. Holiday sales were disappointing. Over one million jobs have been lost in just the last two months of 2008. Corporate earnings reports are uniformly downbeat.
Credit is still tight, and as a result the sales rates of credit-driven purchases such as homes and automobiles have dropped by double digits.
Thus, Washington-- and the nation-- awaits the Presidency of Barack Obama with great hope.
In this E-Newsletter:
- Supporting Israel
- Auto Bailout Report
- UNFPA "State of World Population" report released
- New Credit Card Reforms
On Friday, January 9, I spoke on behalf of Israel on the House floor as the House considered H. Res. 34, which places the blame for the situation in Gaza exactly where it belongs, squarely on the shoulders of Hamas. It makes clear that Israel has a right to defend itself and that the path to peace in the region lies in the recognition of Israel's right to exist, the dismantling of Hamas' terrorist infrastructure and the release of Gilad Shalit.
For the last eight years, more than 10,000 missiles have fallen on Israel's civilian population centers, killing 28, injuring more than 700 and traumatizing tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Hamas violates international law by embedding its weapons in civilian centers and using its people as human shields. It is reprehensible for Hamas to try to score public relations points with the bodies of their own civilians. These are the irresponsible acts of madmen and cowards, not rulers who can hope to lead a nation.
The resolution passed the House by a vote of 390-5.
Auto Bailout Report
As part of my work on the Joint Economic Committee, I've completed a report on the effects on the economy of the failure of any one of the "Detroit Three" (they're no longer referred to as the "Big Three") domestic automakers on the economy.
The domestic auto industry represents over 10 percent of the nation’s manufacturing employment. More than 2 million Americans are employed directly by the Detroit Three, their direct suppliers, production plants or car dealers. Only 12% of those jobs are based in Detroit. A 50 percent contraction in Detroit automaker employment would cause government to lose $50 billion in the first year and $108 billion over three years.
Clearly, tremors from an automaker's collapse could be felt far and wide, with serious negative spillover effects in industries from tire manufacturers to technology firms in a wide range of communities across the nation. A conditional bridge loan is crucial in helping the Detroit Three survive the current downward economic trends.
We need to preserve our domestic manufacturing base both for the future prosperity of our nation and because it is an important source of well-paid middle class jobs. It’s in our best interest to provide a bridge loan to these companies in order to avoid an economic earthquake, which is why I supported such a loan in the House vote in early December. Unfortunately, the Senate didn't agree, and the Treasury Department is working to fund such a loan from previously-appropriated funds.
"UNFPA State of World Population" report released
On Nov. 8, 2008, I was proud to attend the release of UNFPA's, (the United Nations Population Fund) annual "State of World Population" report on family planning efforts financed by the Fund through its constituent nations. For me, it was the first glimmer of how I hope things are likely to change under the new Administration.
Over the course of the last eight years, President Bush withheld the United States' contribution to the UNFPA each year falsely claiming that UNFPA was involved in coercive family planning practices. No entity, including the Bush Administration, has ever found UNFPA to be involved in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization. However, the Bush Administration invoked a law for the past seven years, claiming that UNFPA is responsible for China's coercive family planning practices merely by having programs in that country. This determination was made purely for political reasons. In May, 2002, a team handpicked by the Bush Administration to investigate alleged UNFPA collusion in coercive Chinese family planning practices reported to the-Secretary of State Colin Powell:
"We find no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in the PRC (People's Republic of China). We therefore recommend that not more than $34 million which has already been appropriated be released to UNFPA."
I hope that President Obama will work to restore funding to UNFPA and help women around the globe.
Credit Card Reforms
On December 18, the Federal Reserve, Office of Thrift Supervision, and the National Credit Union Administrator issued new rules governing the unfair, deceptive and anti-competitive practices of the credit card industry.
At long last, these regulators have agreed with what I've been saying for years: something's got to level the playing field between card issuers and consumers. As Chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, I wrote the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights (CCBOR), which passed the House in September with a bipartisan majority of 312 votes.
The regulators included many, but not all, of the provisions of CCBOR, and made what I believe is one crucial mistake: their rules don't take effect until July, 2010.
Therefore, I will soon introduce a new version of CCBOR. With a new President (who has repeatedly supported credit card reform), a bipartisan base in the House and these new rules from regulators, I believe momentum is on our side in getting legislation through both houses of Congress and signed by the President to take effect before July of 2010.
Please feel free to share this email with anyone who may be interested in these issues. As always, I appreciate your comments and invite you to write to me through my website.
CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Member of Congress
P.S. Please do not respond to this unattended email account, but instead click here if you would like to send me a message. I look forward to hearing from you!