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New Direction Congress Makes Progress for American Families

Roadblock Republicans Stand In the Way of Further Change

Throughout the year, the Democratic-led Congress has passed legislation to make America safer, revitalize the American dream and restore accountability and fiscal responsibility to Washington.

We are proud of our accomplishments on behalf of the American people, but more could have been done if not for the obstructions by Roadblock Republicans in the House and Senate and the President's cruel veto pen.

Now, President Bush and Congressional Republicans are boasting about scoring political points and successfully blocking key legislation designed to help hard-working American families. What do Republicans call winning? Standing in the way of fiscally responsible tax relief for 23 million American families, “health insurance for 10 million children,” and closing tax loopholes for the oil and gas industry.

Republicans Blocked Fiscally Responsible Tax Relief for American Families

On December 11th, the House passed a bill to provide $50 billion in alternative minimum tax (AMT) relief to 23 million families that is fully paid for and will not increase the deficit.

This week, the House and Senate passed a tax relief bill to ensure these families are not ensnared by the AMT — but Republicans insisted on passing the cost of this tax cut onto future generations instead of paying for it now. In spite of this, Democrats in Congress remain committed to fiscal responsibility.

Support for Democrats' fiscally responsible tax relief plan –

“The $50 billion cost of granting the tax relief should be at least largely offset by other measures, which could include tax increases, spending cuts or a combination…Congress followed the pay-go principle to a considerable degree in the latter half of the 1990s. That helped produce a string of budget surpluses — a phenomenon that hadn’t been experienced in Washington for decades.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram Editorial, 12/8/07

“The GOP is the party that was once known for its fiscal restraint. But in the near decade that it ran both the House and Senate, and when it controlled the White House, it ran up enormous debts. It cut taxes and raised spending. Now the Republicans are standing in the way of the Democratic plan to at least balance the AMT ledger sheet.”
Winston Salem Journal Editorial, 12/9/07

“Republicans, led by Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, think it is absurd to pay for a tax cut by raising new taxes. They have threatened a filibuster against the bill unless the House drops the offsetting taxes — and they appear to have Democrats over a barrel because of the need to act right away…We believe it is wrong to add the $50 billion to the national debt, which is what would happen if the AMT 'patch' goes unpaid. That only would pass the bill to the next generation, allow Congress to get by without having to set priorities on spending and taxing, and create a fiscal vulnerability because other countries lend us the money to pay our bills.”
Miami Herald Editorial, 12/17/07

GOP Leadership Blocked Health Insurance for 10 Million American Children

For the second time, on December 12th, President Bush vetoed bipartisan legislation that would have provided health insurance coverage to 10 million children in hard-working American families struggling with the high cost of health care. The majority of House Republicans have refused to vote to override the President's veto.

This week, the Democratic-led Congress enacted an extension of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) but Democrats remain committed to insuring 10 million children and we will continue to work to overcome the President's veto and the objection of a handful of House Republicans.

Support for Bipartisan plan to provide health care to 10 million American children –

“Whatever the political consequences of cutting a popular health care program for kids less than two weeks before Christmas, vetoing the bill is reckless and ill-considered health policy…Mr. Bush and some congressional Republicans have used specious arguments to attack SCHIP. The most outrageous, of course, is Mr. Bush’s insistence that expanding health coverage for children is somehow the first step toward national health insurance — as if that were a bad thing. How can providing health care to more children be a bad thing?”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial, 12/14/07

More than 270 groups and organizations support the bipartisan children's health insurance bill including America's Health Insurance Plans, American Medical Association, AARP, YMCA, and the Healthcare Leadership Council.

“President Bush's second veto of bi-partisan State Children's Health Insurance Program legislation gave 9 million uninsured children a disappointing present this Holiday Season… The veto threatens coverage for the children who already rely on SCHIP, an extremely effective and popular program, and threatens new initiatives across the country to cover more children.”
Cindy Mann, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, 12/12/07

Support for the bipartisan children's health insurance bill includes overwhelming majorities across ALL party lines:

· 81 percent of Democrats
· 69 percent of Independents
· 61 percent of Republicans
Washington Post/ABC News Poll, 10/1/07

Republicans Blocked Incentives to Spur Renewable Energy Technology

On December 6th, the House passed an historic energy package that increases fuel efficiency of vehicles to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 — the first increase in a generation. Senate Republicans blocked a provision in the House-passed bill to spur clean, renewable energy technologies and promote greater energy efficiency paid for by repealing tax breaks for oil companies.

Democrats will build on the progress of this historic energy bill by continuing the fight for tax incentives for clean renewable and alternative energy, and moving forward with major global warming legislation.

Support for Democrats' energy independence agenda –

“…we are disappointed that the renewable electricity standard was removed from the final bill, since investing in renewable, efficient energy sources is critical to moving America beyond its oil addiction. We look forward to separate passage through Congress in the near future.”
– Natural Resources Defense Council, 12/13/07

“Congress moved the nation toward a smarter, greener future by voting last week to raise auto mileage standards for the first time in more than 30 years. But it dropped numerous renewable energy measures to ensure passage of an overall energy bill this year. Lawmakers next year should revisit a key policy left on the cutting-room floor: extending and improving tax incentives for installing solar energy. Congress should pass the solar tax credits, either on their own or as part of broader legislation.”
San Jose Mercury News Editorial, 12/18/07

“While this energy bill does take a big step toward addressing our growing oil dependence and rising gas prices, the Senate was forced to remove any tax or market-based incentives to increase our nation’s use of clean renewable energy… By threatening to veto both the Renewable Electricity Standard and tax incentives, the White House has hamstrung this burgeoning industry, delaying the development of clean homegrown, renewable energy that will create jobs and save consumers money.”
– Union of Concerned Scientists, 12/13/07

“Unfortunately, citizens didn’t fare as well when oil and utility companies convinced Republicans to strip out two key provisions that could have greatly increased the energy bill’s positive impact. One would have restored a bit more than $1 billion a year in taxes on the five largest oil companies, with the money paying to spur clean energy development. A second would have required utilities to produce 15 percent of their power from wind, solar and other renewable sources by 2020.”
The Star-Ledger Editorial, 12/15/07

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