Economic stimulus remains Congress’ top priority

Published 11:08 am Friday, January 2, 2009

During the holiday season, I heard from some who say it’s hard to be upbeat when times are so tough. Still, I believe it is to important look forward, work hard and remain hopeful.

With that in mind, I’m pleased that the Administration came through for the American auto makers. In return for those low-interest loans, our automakers must restructure for long-term viability and international competitiveness.

This was the right thing to do and it will ensure that millions of working families keep working. Their jobs are vitally important to getting our economy back on track; those jobs are also in an industry that will play a critical role as our country works toward energy independence.

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Now that we’ve protected millions of good paying jobs, we need to create millions more. Economists across the political spectrum agree that some kind of stimulus package is necessary to get our economy back on track.

I believe Congress is ready to hit the ground running to help President Obama pass his plan to create and save 2.5 million jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure from bridges to broadband and investing in a more efficient energy future.

Stimulus measures like more money for food stamps, emergency assistance to states, tax breaks for middle-income households, and money for public-works investments ranging from energy-saving technology in public buildings and schools to modernization of university research facilities should all be considered.

Many of these ideas have been rejected in the past by the Administration.

But with a new president and new representatives in Congress, I believe we will have more options to help the economy and working families.

Finally, I share the outrage Ohioans have expressed over how the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) money has been spent. In the New Year, it’s imperative that Congress get TARP money where it really needs to go: not to executive’s bonuses, but to stop the wave of home foreclosures and keep families in their homes.

The Administration has spent the first $350 billion of TARP money, but Treasury must come back to Congress to get the second $350 billion. Showing a plan that will spend that money effectively and responsibly will be key before Congress agrees to release any more money to the Treasury Department’s financial rescue effort.

In the Financial Services Committee, we are already working on legislation to strengthen accountability, ensure that TARP funds are used to free up credit for consumers, and provide mortgage relief so more homeowners can stay in their homes.

I will support efforts in our committee to further protect taxpayers and to require greater transparency.

I know there’s much more to do and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I remember a quote I saw on a recent visit to a museum: “In many respects the U.S. is always beginning anew.”

I believe that. “The U.S. is always beginning anew.”

I know we can reinvent ourselves. Our country has been through worse and come out better. We’ll do it again.

Charlie Wilson is a U.S. Representative serving the 6th District.