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Washington, Oct 3 -

Changes in the legislation, changes in the state of the economy, and even changes in the emails and phone calls coming into his office, convinced U.S. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) to change his vote to approve the financial recovery bill approved (263-171) by the House today.  Congressman Coble, who had voted against the version defeated in the House on Monday, said this new bill was much improved over the earlier one he opposed.

          Speaking on the House floor, Rep. Coble said by going back to the drawing board, a better bill was produced.  “The increase of the FDIC threshold to $250,000, a good move,” Rep. Coble stated.  “The AMT patch that will affect favorably 21 million middle class families, a good move.  SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) I am told is addressing or has addressed the mark-to-market issue, a good approach.  Compelling arguments can be proffered on both sides of this issue, but I believe that inaction is not an option.”

          Rep. Coble said the defeat of the first House bill convinced him that Main Street and not just Wall Street was in trouble.  “The unstable financial markets are causing substantial losses to the retirement accounts of working Americans and current retirees,” Coble added.  “If steps are not taken to protect these investments, it is likely that retirees will have insufficient funds to remain independent of government programs such as subsidized housing, Medicaid, food stamps and other health care needs.  Hopefully, this legislation will bring some stability to the credit markets and give business and individuals the certainty they need during this tumultuous time.” 

          Congressman Coble said another key addition for him was the inclusion of a bill dealing with mental health parity.   “This bill contains an identical version of H.R. 6983, the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008,” Rep. Coble noted.  “It will require mental health and substance-related disorder benefits to be included in employer-sponsored health care plans in the same manner that medical and surgical benefits are provided in these plans.  The mental health parity requirements apply to group health plans with 51 or more employees. It has been in the pipeline for at least four years and if it doesn’t pass this year, it could be delayed for more than a year.  It is the right thing to do and to do it now.” 

          Rep. Coble also said that he has long felt that tax credits are an excellent way to stimulate the economy.  “For example,” the 6th District Republican said, “the credits for the film and television industries were important, particularly since North Carolina has been one of the leading production states in the past.   We have lost much of this production to Canada and other countries that offer tax breaks.  The classic example is Cold Mountain, a North Carolina-themed movie that was filmed in Romania.  With these credits now extended, I hope film producers will look to North Carolina for their future efforts.” 

          Rep. Coble said this was one of the most controversial issues he has faced since he has been in office.  “When we add up all of the phone calls, emails, faxes, and personal visits,” Rep. Coble said, “the 6th District was about evenly divided in how I should vote.  When I cast my first vote, the sentiment was 9-1 in opposition.  In a representative democracy, we should listen to the voice of the people, and I have heard those many opinions.  I also owe them my best judgment, and in my opinion, this was a better bill than the one we defeated, and one that I can and should support.”  

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