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February 12, 2007: Rep. John Lewis Rejects President’s Budget Proposal

In This Issue

  • President's Budget Proposal
  • Utilize the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • House Takes Steps to Grow and Strengthen America's Middle Class Students
  • President’s Budget Proposal

    It seems to me that the President’s Budget is business as usual.  It is more of the same and offers no hope.  It is a blueprint for more of the same old stale policies and empty promises of magical revenues that will help reduce our debt and strengthen our economy.  As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I had an opportunity to ask the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, questions about this year’s budget in a hearing on February 7. 

    I asked about the thousands who showed up to apply for a shot at a job with Wal-Mart and the layoffs, locally and across the Nation, that are hurting Georgia’s families.  I asked whether or not the Administration’s Budget reflected the reality many people are experiencing – bankruptcy, foreclosure, fruitless job searches, and unaffordable tuition, growing health care costs.  While the Administration does attempt to address the housing crisis in its budget, it increases costs on some areas and ignores them in others, like not fully accounting for the war in Iraq. 

    I am troubled by the fact that the President wants to extend more than a trillion dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent of Americans but has proposed the following cuts:

    • Medicare cuts of $556 billion over ten years
    • 47 billion in net legislated Medicaid cuts over 10 years
    • Centers for Disease Control cut by $433 million for 2009
    • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) cut by $570 million for 2009 despite the fact that home heating costs are soaring and the program is only able to serve 16 percent of eligible families at its current funding level
    • Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) eliminated for 2009
    • Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) cut by $500 million for 2009 and completely eliminated in 2010, at a time when nearly half of states are facing budget shortfalls
    • the Environmental Protection Agency cut by $330 million for 2009
    • $5.2 billion in new fees on veterans over the next ten years
    I hope that when the House and Senate craft our budget, we do much better.

    Utilize the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

    If you or someone you know worked in 2007, you may be eligible to receive a tax refund through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

    The Earned Income Tax Credit is a federal tax benefit for low and moderate-income workers who are eligible for and claim the credit.  The credit reduces the impact of payroll and income taxes workers pay and supplements the earnings of very low-wage workers. 

    For example, if you worked in 2007:

    • Did you have one child living with you?  Did you earn less than $33,241?  You could receive $2,853 in EITC benefits.
    • Did you have more than one child living with you?  Did you earn less than $37,783?  You could receive $4,716 in EITC benefits.
    • If you had no children living with you, earned less than $12,590 in 2007, and are between the ages of 25 and 64, you could receive up to $428 due to the Earned Income Tax Credit.

    The Earned Income Tax Credit has been around for more than 30 years.  It is the nation’s largest antipoverty program for working families.  It offers real help to low income households and communities.  Unfortunately not everybody knows about it and everyone who could be eligible loses money that could be owed to them through a tax refund from the IRS.

    House Takes Steps to Grow and Strengthen America’s Middle Class Students:

    The Democratic pursuit of expanding the affordability and accessibility of college education continued on February 7, with the passage of the College Opportunity and Affordability Act.

    I believe one of the most important aspects of this bill is the steps it takes to restore integrity and accountability to student loan programs.  Questions about conflicts of interest in the student loan industry have gone unanswered, until now.  With this bill, we are taking steps to simplify lending language and make the process more transparent.  The House created a College Consumer’s Bill of Rights, which will help to provide students with fair and full information about their borrowing options.  This will also protect students from aggressive marketing ploys and increase financial literacy education programs for those seeking financial aid.  Too many of our students and families are caught with loans they do not fully understand and this bill takes the necessary steps towards change.

    In a competitive global marketplace, we need to do all that we can to provide our children with a college education.  A cornerstone of our country is the belief that college should be accessible and affordable to students who are the first in their families to pursue a college degree.  This bill strengthens the TRIO and GEAR UP college readiness and support programs.  Programs that specifically help first-generation and low-income students get into college.

    I believe that we should all give a little something back to our communities.  Unfortunately, some of our most important public service jobs are having problems recruiting young men and women to fill crucial positions.  This legislation authorizes up to $10,000 in loan forgiveness for public defenders, prosecutors, military service members, first responders, law enforcement officers, educators and nurses. These are the members of our communities who protect and care for us. It only makes sense to encourage college educated men and women to pursue these careers. 

    I will continue to support this strong legislation and urge the President to sign this bill into law.

    To learn more about how this bill helps: veterans and military families; students with disabilities; minority students; and reduces textbook costs—CLICK HERE
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