November 1, 2006 - Vol III: Ed XII
Here’s an update of my recent activities in Washington and at home in New York.
In this E-Newsletter:
- Tragic Plane Crash Highlights Need to Revisit NYC Flight
- Economic Indicators Paint Gloomy Picture of the Economy for Working
- Update on the Sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village
- Avoiding a Repeat of the 9/11 Health Crisis
- Continuing the Crackdown on Sex Trafficking
- World's Most Impoverished Women Shunned Again
Our community suffered a tragedy earlier this month when a small plane slammed into a residential building on York Avenue. My heart goes out to the families of the two men who were in the plane and died in the crash. And my appreciation, as always, goes out to our city’s best and bravest – the police officers and firefighters who quickly and professionally secured the scene and extinguished the fire before it could spread. No city in the world has better first responders than ours.
Small aircraft flying in our airspace have crashed numerous times, and it was just a matter of time before one of them hit a residential building and endangered thousands of lives. For years, I have been making the case to tighten Federal Aviation Administration restrictions on helicopters and small aircraft over our city. In the wake of this most recent – and, perhaps, most dangerous – crash, I again called on the government to reconsider the regulations governing small aircraft flights in our airways.
I was pleased that the FAA quickly took action and prohibited small aircraft from flying over the East River. This new regulation should be made permanent and extended to cover helicopter flights. It certainly would have prevented last week’s accident, and it will hopefully prevent future disasters.
As the senior House Democrat on the Joint Economic Committee, I closely follow the latest economic news and its implications for our country. Earlier this month, the government released a slew of economic statistics that reconfirm what we have understood for awhile – the economy in recent years has not been kind to working Americans and the middle class.
First, we learned that just 51,000 jobs were created in September, which was far worse than projections and far fewer than the 140,000 to 150,000 jobs needed every month to keep up with the expanding labor force. This continues the pattern of paltry job creation over the past five years compared with historical performance and certainly compared with the robust job creation of the 1990s.
Next, the federal government pegged the 2006 budget deficit at $247.7 billion, continuing the run of huge budget deficits that has followed the record budget surpluses at the end of the 1990s. The federal government has run a deficit for five straight years, and three of those have been all-time highs. The national debt limit has ballooned by 50 percent in six years, and it now stands at more than $8.9 trillion.
Finally, we learned that the trade deficit in August was a record-high $69.9 billion, surpassing the previous record set one month earlier. For five consecutive years, the annual trade deficit has set new records, and it is well on its way to another record this year.
In fact, over the past five years, the economy has set numerous records, only they are the wrong records to set. American workers are facing a worse job market and our debts and deficits are piling up – a burden that will be put on the backs of our children and grandchildren. This is the wrong direction for our economy.
This week, MetLife announced that they have reached an agreement to sell Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village to Tishman Speyer for $5.4 billion, a remarkable price for a complex in which 73% of the apartments are rent stabilized. Representatives of Tishman Speyer assured me that they don’t intend to tear down the buildings or remove stabilized tenants from their homes. I will maintain contact with the buyer as this deal goes through, and I will continue to push for the preservation of affordable housing. I am hopeful that Tishman Speyer understands and respects the tenants’ needs and the importance of affordable housing.
During the bidding process, I consulted with the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village tenants association. Along with 14 other Members of Congress, I also urged MetLife to adopt a plan to keep this housing affordable after the sale. In addition, I urged the Financial Services Committee, on which I sit, to hold a federal hearing on this sale and on the loss of affordable housing in urban areas across the country.
The poor federal response to the 9/11 health crisis has shown that the federal government must be far better prepared to deal with the health effects of future disasters. To this end, I worked in conjunction with Senators Hillary Clinton and George Voinovich (OH) to pass a law that puts in place a system to help expedite medical monitoring of those who become sick after future disasters.
I was the House sponsor of a bill establishing a medical monitoring plan, and the senators successfully attached such a measure as an amendment to the SAFE Port Act (H.R. 4954). The legislation calls for the president, in conjunction with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to determine after future disasters if medical monitoring is necessary based on exposure to substances of concern. If medical monitoring is necessary, the monitoring program will encompass all responders, area residents, area office workers and area school children.
I worked to help ensure that congressional negotiators on the port security bill understood the importance of these provisions and maintained them in the final version of the bill. It is our hope that the passage of this legislation will help avoid a repeat of the feeble response to the 9/11 health crisis after future disasters.
Last year I worked to pass provisions from the End Demand for Sex Trafficking Act that will help prosecute those on the demand side of sex trafficking – pimps and johns who treat women and girls as if their lives are worthless. Recently, I introduced a new bill (H.R. 6017) that will further tighten the screws on sex traffickers. Mirroring the efforts of Senator Charles Grassley (IA), I have proposed legislation that would establish an office within the Internal Revenue Service to prosecute sex traffickers for tax violations. Just as the federal government was able to convict Al Capone on tax charges, we can use this innovative approach to put those who buy and sell women and girls behind bars.
Sex trafficking is worldwide scourge that is larger and more horrific in scope than many people realize. We often think that it only occurs in remote corners of the world, but the fact of the matter is that sex trafficking is happening here in our own backyards as well. Our government needs to continue to take action to free the women and girls who are bought and sold and to end this slavery.
The State Department recently announced that it has again decided to withhold our nation’s $34 million contribution to the preeminent family and maternal health organization, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. This is the fifth straight year that the State Department has taken this action. With the money that has been withheld over five years, UNFPA could have helped prevent up to 10 million unwanted pregnancies, 4 million induced abortions, 23,500 maternal deaths, and 385,000 infant and child deaths.
To justify withholding the contributions, the State Department uses the stale accusations that UNFPA has supported coercive abortions and forced sterilization in China – accusations that were proven false in 2002 by the State Department’s own fact-finding team. Instead of acting so irresponsibly, our nation must act with more compassion and contribute to important and effective organizations, like UNFPA.
- Read more about the Administration's irresponsible action >
- Read about my longtime support of international family planning >
CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Member of Congress
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