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Finding America's Compass
To understand how to begin solving America’s economic challenges we need to know where we have been and where we are going. Through the course of this series, Congressman Forbes looks at the attempts of Congress to address the economic crisis and at the principles that have made America great and how those principles can guide us towards solutions for economic recovery.

Read part one, "A Look at Where We Have Been."

Read more.

Surviving the Economic Downturn
Use this guide to learn ways to avoid foreclosure, secure retirement, and find employment opportunities with the federal government. More...
The Wall Street Bailout
Congressman Forbes discusses the 2008 federal bailout of Wall Street, its impact on the economy, and why he opposed it.
The State of Our Economy
Congressman Forbes looks at economic factors impacting families, such as gas prices, unemployment, and the cost of education. More...

Supported American manufacturing.  Congressman Forbes supported requiring that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (H.R.3116) give preference to items used by DHS that are produced, grown or manufactured in the U.S., including textiles. In addition, Congressman Forbes supported the Congressional Made in America Promise Act (H.R.2039), which extends the provisions of the Made in America Act to the Legislative branch.  The legislation requires Congressional offices to purchase products made in America whenever practical.  Both bills passed the House by voice vote.

Prevented consumer exploitation.
Congressman Forbes voted to support the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Extension Act (H.R.5330), which increased penalties for antitrust violations in an effort to prevent consumer exploitation.  This legislation also includes greater protections for those individuals who make claims of collusion against corporations.  This bill passed the House by a vote of 366-4.

Opposed more deficit spending. Congressman Forbes voted to oppose the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010 (H.R.4213).  This legislation is a collection of programs that will increase the deficit by $54 billion while establishing permanent tax increases.  This bill passed the House by a vote of 245-171.

Opposed taxpayer-funded rebates for home remodeling and appliance purchases.  Congressman Forbes voted to oppose the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 (H.R.5019), which would spend $6.6 billion in taxpayer money to provide rebates to contractors for energy-efficient remodeling on existing homes.  Contractors would then give discounts to consumers for the retrofits.  Charged with implementation of the program, the Department of Energy (DOE) does not have a good track record with similar efforts.  For example, DOE was awarded $4.7 billion under the stimulus bill in weatherization grants, but less than 10% of those funds have been used for weatherization purposes.  This bill passed the House by a vote of 246-161.

Voted Against Legislation That Would Praise the Stimulus for Job Creation. Congressman Forbes voted against legislation (H. Res.1125) to praise the “transparency and accountability” and “direct job creation” of the stimulus bill.  There is no available evidence to support job creation from the stimulus, and of the $862 billion in stimulus funds only $301 billion (or 34%) has been spent thus far.  In addition, the official government website that tracks current stimulus spending included phantom congressional districts, like the 00th Congressional District of Virginia. Congressman Forbes is one of only 17 Members of Congress to vote against every big stimulus and bailout bill.  This bill failed the House by a vote of 249-172.

Supported a temporary extension of unemployment insurance.  Congressman Forbes supported a package of temporary extensions of programs (H.R.4851) including unemployment insurance, COBRA health insurance subsidies, Medicare physician payments, national flood insurance programs, and national highway programs. This bill passed the House by voice vote.

Opposed the latest stimulus bill. Congressman Forbes voted to oppose H.R.2847, another stimulus "jobs" bill. The bill was only made available to members of Congress just hours before the vote and many individuals in the business community said the tax provisions included in the bill would not provide permanent relief to get businesses hiring again.  This bill passed the House by a vote of 217-201.

Supported America Saves Week. Congressman Forbes supported the goals of America Saves Week (H.Res.1082), which emphasizes the importance of individual savings America's financial security.  This resolution passed the House by voice vote.

Supported licensing requirements for multi-state insurers. Congressman Forbes supported the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act, H.R. 2554, which would reestablish the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB) as a nonprofit corporation to enforce insurers’ licensing and qualification requirements, including requiring a criminal background check for those wishing to become a member of the Association.  This resolution passed the House by voice vote.

Extended vital highway and small business programs. Congressman Forbes voted to support a one month extension of programs in H.R. 4691 including federal highway programs, unemployment insurance benefits, COBRA health care subsidies, flood insurance program, and the Small Business Administration loan guarantee program.  This bill passed the House by voice vote.

Voting Against New Stimulus Spending.  Congressman Forbes opposed H.R. 2847, which spends $150 billion on many of the same programs funded by the original $787 billion stimulus bill passed earlier this year. $75 billion is deficit spending, and the remainder is paid for with $75 billion from unspent bailout funds, which under current law are supposed to be used to reduce the federal debt.  The bill passed by a vote of 217-212.

Voted to extend unemployment and COBRA benefits for two months. Congressman Forbes voted to support a two month extension of supplemental unemployment benefits and COBRA subsidies included in H.R. 3326.  The added benefits will continue until February 28, 2010 under this bill.  The bill passed by a vote of 395-34.

Supported expanded trade with South America. The Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA), H.R. 4284, was enacted in 1991 to help combat drug production and trafficking in the Andean countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The program provides trade benefits and preferential duty-free entry for goods and products from 131 countries to help these countries develop and strengthen legitimate industries as alternatives to drug production and trafficking.  Congressman Forbes voted to extend the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA) through Dec. 31, 2010 for Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The bill passed by voice vote. 

Voted against permanent tax increases. Congressman Forbes opposed H.R. 4213, which would use permanent tax increases on investments and business profits to extend temporary tax breaks. The tax increases will hit businesses, charities, and seniors citizens, many whose pensions and savings are invested in the stock market, at a time when many are already struggling as a result of the economic downturn.  This legislation passed by a vote of 231-181.

Called for responsible regulation of the financial sector.
Congressman Forbes voted for an amendment that would create a new chapter of the bankruptcy code to make it more efficient and better suited for resolving large troubled financial institutions. The amendment would also mandate an audit of the Federal Reserve and phase out government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  This amendment failed by a vote of 175-251.

Addressed disparity in Fort Lee per diem rates. Congressman Forbes sent a letter to the General Services Administration (GSA) expressing his concern over the wide disparity between federal lodging and food rates between Richmond and the Fort Lee area. The letter is in support of the Crater Planning District Commission’s own request to the GSA to increase federal per diem rates for the area.

Providing Resources for Residents Impacted by Mill Closure.  Congressman Forbes traveled to the City of Franklin to meet with local officials, state agencies, and employees at a community meeting to address the closure of the International Paper paper mill. The mill closure is expected to result in the loss of 1,100 jobs. Congressman Forbes announced the creation of a website resource that can help people find information to assist them following the closure. Facts on unemployment assistance, employment training, federal job resources, eligibility for medical assistance programs, and loan programs are included on the site. 

Called for a meeting with International Paper. Congressman Forbes signed a letter with Sen. Mark Warner, Sen. Jim Webb, and Rep. Bobby Scott requesting a meeting with International Paper senior executives to discuss the details of the International Paper plant closure in Franklin, Virginia and their plans for future uses of the site.   

Called for Congress to properly address the bad economy. Congressman Forbes gave a speech on the House floor about the government's failure to address the causes of the economic recession, rather than the symptoms. Watch Congressman Forbes' remarks here.

Requested prompt federal assistance for employees of International Paper. Congressman Forbes sent letters to the Departments of Labor and Commerce, as well as the Small Business Administration, requesting each agency send a representative to the City of Franklin to ensure any relevant federal resources are made available to the communities impacted by the plant closure. Congressman Forbes also sent a separate letter to Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis requesting that she review potential additional benefits for International Paper employees. 

Supported reasonable small business flexibility with identity theft regulations.  Congressman Forbes voted for H.R. 3763 to provide more flexibility for healthcare providers, accounting practices, and legal practices that have less than 20 employees regarding Federal Trade Commission rules that require financial businesses to implement written identity theft prevention programs. The current federal regulations force small businesses to comply with burdensome regulations that significantly increase their expenses.  This bill passed the House by a vote of 400-0.  

Supported the arts and humanities. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R. 1126, which would allow individuals who create artistic works to deduct the fair market value of their work if they donate it to certain tax-exempt organizations.
This bill passed by a vote of 409-1.

Supporting the Commercial Shipping Industry.  Congressman Forbes signed a bipartisan letter to the Secretary of Transportation to support $60 million for the Title XI Ship Loan Guarantee program in the 2011 federal budget. Title XI is essential to providing financing for the construction of commercial ships in the U.S., to creating jobs, and to rebuilding America’s marine transportation capacity. 

Voted to promote travel tourism in the United States.  Congressman Forbes supported the Travel Promotion Act, S. 1023, which establishes a nonprofit corporation to promote tourism and international travel to the United States.  International travelers provide a boost to American businesses, spending on average $4,500 per person per visit to the U.S.  Promotional efforts are expected to attract 1.6 million new international visitors annually.  The Travel Promotion Act will also help alleviate much of the confusion that now exists regarding new U.S. security procedures. This bill passed the House by a vote of 358 – 66.

Supported education and training programs. Congressman Forbes voted for H.Con.Res. 163 designating September 23, 2009 as National Job Corps Day. The National Job Corps is a free education and training program that helps young people improve their quality of life by receiving vocational training, earning a high school diploma or GED, and finding and keeping a good job. The resolution passed the House by a vote of 413-4.

Provided extended benefits for the unemployed. Congressman Forbes voted for H.R. 3548 to extend federal unemployment benefits for an additional thirteen weeks.  The bill passed the House by a vote of 331-83.   

Supported simplifying state taxes for interstate businesses.
Specifically, H.R. 1083 would prohibit states from taxing out-of-state transactions involving intangible personal property and services such as copyrights, patents, and accounts receivable. This bill would also prohibit state taxation of an out-of-state business unless a business has a physical presence in the taxing state.

Opposed additional government intervention in the auto industry.  Congressman Forbes voted to oppose H.R. 3435, a supplemental to the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program, known as the "Cash for Clunkers" program. "Cash for Clunkers" uses federal money to issue vouchers between $3,500 and $4,500 for consumers that buy a new car upon the trade-in of a less fuel-efficient used vehicle. Last week, it was reported that the program was running out of funds after one week. In response, H.R. 3435 would transfer an additional $2 billion to the program from the Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This $2 billion is in addition to the $84 billion already committed by American taxpayers for the automotive industry.  This bill passed the House by a vote of 316-109.  

Opposed more government control of private business.  Congressman Forbes voted to oppose H.R. 3269, which would regulate executive compensation of publicly traded companies. The bill requires shareholders to hold annual votes on executive compensation and would also require federal bureaucrats to prohibit any private compensation structure that they deem “inappropriately risky."  This bill passed the House by a vote of 237-185. 

Called for Chrysler and GM to honor their contract commitments to auto dealers.
 Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R. 2743, the Automobile Dealer Economic Rights Restoration Act of 2009 to require Chrysler and General Motors to honor their contract commitments to auto dealers as they existed prior to each company’s bankruptcy filling. This bill would also preserve dealers’ rights under state law.  

Opposed a bailout for the International Monetary Fund.
Congressman Forbes voted against H.R.2346, a war spending bill that includes more than $28.7 billion of non-war spending. The bill includes a “global bailout” that will require the federal government to borrow money to then lend it to the International Monetary Fund. The bill also authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to agree to the sale of gold to the IMF, which would make the institution less accountable to the U.S. and other member nations. 

Opposed an increase of $6.8 billion in excess government spending. H.R.2847 the 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science, Appropriations bill fails to prioritize funding levels and instead contains an 11.7 percent increase over the 2009 spending bill. When all appropriations spending is combined, majority leadership in Congress has increased non-defense, non-veterans discretionary spending by 85 percent over the last two fiscal years.  This level of spending is unsustainable in light of our growing deficits and debt.

Supported increased assistance for the National Consumer Cooperative Bank. Congressman Forbes supported H.R.1674 to declare that a nonprofit corporation could be qualified as a community development financial institution under the National Consumer Cooperative Bank Act (NCCBA). Institutions under the NCCBA focus on delivering banking services to housing, education, health care, and cultural centers, as well as small businesses and social service cooperatives, in economically distressed communities. 

Increased protections for credit card holders. Congressman Forbes voted for H.R. 627, which would increase credit card companies’ disclosures on fees and terms to consumers, prohibit extending credit to minors that do not have income, and limit unfair fees on card holders. The bill also prohibits a creditor from changing the interest rate on existing balances unless there is a 45 day written notice. Finally, the practice of “double cycle billing,” where a creditor imposes a finance charge on a credit card account based on balances from any billing cycle that precedes the most recent billing cycle, is also prohibited.

Increased protections for credit card holders. Congressman Forbes voted for H.R. 627, which would increase credit card companies’ disclosures on fees and terms to consumers, prohibit extending credit to minors that do not have income, and limit unfair fees on card holders. The bill also prohibits a creditor from changing the interest rate on existing balances unless there is a 45 day written notice.  

Supported raising awareness of financial education. Congressman Forbes voted for H. Res. 357, which supports the goals and ideals of Financial Literacy Month. This resolution raises public awareness about financial education, recognizes the importance of managing personal finances, increasing personal savings, and reducing personal debt in the United States.

Championed an optional flat tax. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R. 1040, the Freedom Flat Tax Act, which would allow individuals and businesses the option of selecting a one-page flat tax in lieu of the current system.  The flat tax rate would be 19%, and then decline to 17% after two years of participation. As of 2005, the IRS code contains over 2,000,000 words.  Filling out a one-page flat tax form would take less than hour, saving families and businesses billions in tax preparation cost.  Because the Freedom Flat Tax is optional, Americans would be able to continue to pay taxes under the current system if they believe that is a better fit for their personal circumstances. 

Protected tax deductions for charitable contributions. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.Res.244, which recognizes the importance of charitable contributions in today’s society and seeks to protect tax deductions for such donations.  The 2010 federal budget proposal caps the deductions that can be taken for charitable giving. 

Opposed giving excessive power to the Treasury Secretary. Congressman Forbes opposed H.R. 1664, which would prevent “excessive” compensation to TARP recipients. The bill would give all power in determining what is “unreasonable” or “excessive” pay to one individual, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner. It would also require the Secretary to assess compensation restrictions on all employees, not just those making more than $250,000.   

Voted against allowing government control of private employment contracts. Congressman Forbes opposed H.R. 1575, the End Government Reimbursement of Excessive Executive Disbursements (End GREED) Act, which would allow the federal government to recover "excessive payments" made to employees of institutions that received more than $10 billion in TARP bailout funds.  The bill is overly broad, encompassing not just bonus payments by major TARP recipients like AIG, but the employment contracts of any financial institution receiving a $10 billion loan or line of credit from the Federal Reserve.

Voted to support
S. 383, to increase oversight of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). This bill would grant the Special Inspector General (SIG) of the TARP bailout program the authority to conduct audits or investigate any action with regard to the use of TARP funds that the SIG deems appropriate. Congressman Forbes voted against the Wall Street bailout when it came before Congress in 2008. 

Was awarded the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise award, for his support of pro-business policies like lowering taxes, simplifying the tax code and reducing burdensome regulations during the 110th Congress. This is the twenty-first year that the U.S. Chamber has honored the accomplishments of this select group of members of Congress.

Met with the Mayor and other city officials from Hopewell, Virginia to discuss their priorities for the FY2010 federal budget and the city. 

Met with Tom Powell, Vice President for DuPont, to discuss military procurement practices and their work with the Department of Defense. DuPont has its largest manufacturing plant in the Richmond/Chesterfield area of Virginia, which is home to five businesses: Kevlar®, Mylar®, Nomex®, Tyvek® and Zytel®, and it is the global headquarters for two of DuPont's fastest-growing businesses: Advanced Fibers Systems and Personal Protection.  

Spoke on the House Floor about the AIG bonuses and Congress’s response.
Please click here to watch Representative Forbes’ floor speech on AIG bonuses.  

Voted to support
H.R. 1586, to tax bonuses received from AIG and other TARP recipients.  This narrowly tailored legislation would impose a 90% tax on employee bonuses of companies that received taxpayer TARP funding.  The tax would apply to executives of companies that have taken more than $5 billion in taxpayer TARP funding, and also Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The tax would only apply to gross pay above $250,000 that is not salary or commission-based.  The tax would only apply to bonuses received after December 31, 2008.    American International Group (AIG) paid out more than $165 million in bonuses while receiving more than $170 billion in taxpayer dollars to avoid bankruptcy. Congressman Forbes opposes tax increases, but could not support handing out taxpayer-funded bonuses to the same AIG executives whose actions led the company to come to the federal government to save their business.

Attended a House Judiciary Committee markup of H.R. 1575, the End Government Reimbursement of Excessive Executive Disbursements (End GREED) Act.  This bill attempts to reclaim AIG’s executive compensation packages by using Congress’s bankruptcy power (Article I, Section 8, Clause 4).  Since AIG was prevented from entering bankruptcy because of a government bailout, it is unclear whether the approach to reclaiming bonuses in H.R. 1575 is constitutional. 

Cosponsored H.R. 1521, the Cell Tax Fairness Act of 2009. The average wireless telephone customer pays a combined 15.2% in federal, state, and local taxes and fees on their wireless bills, over twice the 7.1% rate imposed on other competitive goods and services. H.R. 1521 does not take away any existing revenue from state or local governments. It calls for a period of tax stabilization as stakeholders work to determine what is best for consumers, the economy, and the further deployment of advanced wireless services in rural and urban areas. Without a temporary freeze on new discriminatory wireless taxes, many wireless consumers, particularly those with lower incomes, will be unable to afford new advanced wireless services.

Hosted a meeting with
House Financial Services Committee experts on the U.S. economy.  The roundtable discussed factors that led to our current economic crisis, the lack of progress by government bailouts designed to help, and what future steps might improve our economy going forward.  Congressman Forbes is one of only 17 of 435 Members of Congress to vote against each of the government bailouts to date, because he is not willing to spend enormous sums of money on plans he is not confident will help our economy or create the jobs that need to be restored.   

Signed on as a cosponsor of H.R. 622, which would provide an important energy tax credit to encourage environmental stewardship. This bill would ensure that producers of biomass power for use on-site receive the same tax benefits as producers who produce power for the electricity market.  Certain paper products facilities produce both renewable power and forest products, producing environmental benefits and reducing fossil fuel demand, but these facilities currently do not receive an energy tax credit because the facilities use the power on-site.  H.R. 622 would aid papermakers who produce and use biomass at their own mills, which would provide further incentive for businesses to convert from fossil-fuel based energy to green, biomass power.

H.R. 1301, which would suspend the tax obligations for people who had money in a holding company undergoing bankruptcy. Due to the bankruptcy proceedings, investors cannot access their money in order to pay their tax obligations. This bill would suspend the deadline to pay those taxes until investors' money is identified and made available to the investor.

Voted to oppose the conference report of H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  This $787 billion “stimulus plan” includes education spending, new military construction, spending for transportation and water infrastructure, expanded Medicaid payments, and some tax rebates.  Proponents of the bill claim it will create or save 3.5 million jobs.  If accurate, that would translate to a cost of $229,000 per job created.  By comparison, the median wage in the United States is $24,325. Congressman Forbes said, “Just last year, Americans lost $14 trillion in total wealth. The fundamental question we have to ask is this – are we simply going to redistribute what is left or are we going to embark on a plan to rebuild what we’ve lost? I believe, and the American people believe, that we have a responsibility to our country and to our future generations to rebuild what we’ve lost. Unfortunately, the economic stimulus package we voted on today is nothing more than a redistribution plan. Americans know the answer to our economic situation is to grow our economy, not to grow our government. Americans deserve a plan that invests in real and long-term economic growth. Americans deserve better than what Congress gave them today.”

Congressman Forbes is one of only 16 of 435 Representatives to vote against all of the government bailouts thus far, including the 2008 Bush stimulus plan. H.R. 1 passed the House on February 13th by a vote of 246 to 183 and was signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday, February 17th.  Click here to read Congressman Forbes' statement on the vote.

Voted to support a House of Representatives rule to allow Members 48 hours to review the conference report text of the stimulus bill before voting on it.  Unfortunately, the Speaker of the House chose not to honor that rule by pushing for a vote roughly 14 hours after the thousand-page text was made available at 11:00 p.m. the night before to Republican members and the public.  

Spoke on the House Floor in opposition to the $790 billion stimulus spending bill.  Visit Congressman Forbes’ YouTube page to watch his speech.

H.R. 982, the Tax Code Termination Act.  This bill will accomplish two goals. It calls on Congress to approve a new federal tax system by July, 2012, and will abolish the Internal Revenue Code by December 31, 2012.  The current tax code which Americans are forced to comply with is unfair, discourages savings and investment, and is impossibly complex.  It has become all too clear that the current code cannot be fixed and is in need of an overhaul.

Hosted a telephone town hall meeting for an hour and a half on Tuesday night with thousands of residents of the Fourth Congressional District
to discuss the economy and the proposed spending package before Congress.  Congressman Forbes took calls from residents who voiced concerns about inadequate oversight of the proposed bailout, assistance for homeowners, loss of jobs, taxes on small businesses, and the impact the stimulus package would have on the federal debt.  Congressman Forbes opposed the $819 billion stimulus in the House of Representatives.

H.R. 470, the Economic Recovery and Middle-Class Tax Relief Act of 2009. This bill is designed to boost our economy by supporting families through tax relief, providing economic relief for American businesses and entrepreneurs, and saving future generations from a crushing debt burden. The proposal cuts income tax rate by 5%,  increases the child tax credit from $1,000 to $5,000, repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) on individuals, and reduces the top corporate income tax rate from 35% to 25%. The bill does so without creating billions of dollars in new federal spending.

Voted to support
H. Res. 40, to require each House committee to hold hearings on waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement in government at least once every 120 days. 

Voted to oppose
H.R. 384, the TARP Reform and Accountability Act, which modifies the requirements associated with the release of the final $350 billion installment of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. H.R. 384 explicitly provides new assistance to domestic automakers, diverts between $40 billion and $100 billion to prevent owner-occupied residences from foreclosure actions, and requires TARP recipients to reach agreements with federal regulators on how to use the funds. Congressman Forbes is among those opposed to the TARP from the outset because of the program’s cost to taxpayers and the precedent it sets for government picking winners and losers in what is supposed to be a free market economy. In relation to this bill, Congressman Forbes:

  • Voted to support H. Amdt. 4, an amendment to remove the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to delegate a government observer to attend meetings of the board of directors of any institution receiving TARP funds.
  • Voted to support H. Amdt. 7, an amendment requiring the Federal Reserve to disclose detailed information regarding the Federal Reserves Mortgage-Backed Securities purchase program.
  • Supported H. Amdt. 8, an amendment prohibiting TARP fund recipients from outsourcing new customer service or call center jobs to foreign companies.
  • Voted to support, H. Amdt. 11, an amendment requiring the Treasury to immediately obtain information from TARP fund recipients on their precise use of funds dispensed prior to January 1, 2009, and require the Treasury to conduct an analysis of the use of those funds. 

Participated in meetings of the Select Earmark Reform Committee, which will present a report and recommendations on how to reform the earmark process in Congress.  Congressman Forbes began listing his annual appropriations requests on behalf of the localities in the 4th District of Virginia two years before the House mandated that all Members do the same thing. He was asked to represent the House Armed Services Committee minority on the panel.  

Cosponsored and supported passage of
H. J. Res. 3, a resolution to prevent Congress from releasing the second installment of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. The second installment totals $350 billion. Under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, EESA, unless both houses of Congress pass a resolution of disapproval within 15 days of the President asking for the money, the $350 billion will be automatically approved for use by the Treasury Department. Therefore, the Senate would have to also pass H. J. Res. 3, and President Obama would have to sign the resolution in order for it to take effect. To read Congressman Forbes’ statement on the remaining bailout funds, click here

Voted to oppose H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This $819 billion “stimulus plan” passed in the House by a vote of 244-188.  H.R. 1 includes some tax rebates, education spending, new military construction, spending for transportation and water infrastructure, and expanded Medicaid payments. Of the 152 spending provisions in the legislation, only 34 of the provisions are expected to actually create jobs. At a total cost of $819 billion, the package will cost taxpayers more than $225,000 per job for each one of the 3.6 million jobs it is expected to create.  The amount the federal government will pay in interest alone each year for the 2008 bailouts is equal to the entire combined budgets of NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the expenses of running the White House for one year. If the $819 billion bill were to become law, which is the most expensive bailout yet, the annual interest on that new debt alone would equal the entire 2009 budget for the Departments of Labor, Treasury, the Army Corps of Engineers, and running all of Congress. Congressman Forbes is one of only 16 of 435 Representatives to vote against all of the government bailouts thus far. To read his statement on the economic stimulus vote, click here.      

Offered an amendment to H.R. 1, which would have ensured that funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 were only used to improve the economic situations of American citizens, not illegal immigrants. The House Rules Committee did not approve the amendment for consideration on the House floor. 

Voted against
H.R. 7321, the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act. This bill would provide $14 billion of taxpayer assistance to General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford in the form of emergency loans. Under the plan, the President would appoint a “car czar” to oversee broad auto industry restructuring and approve plans toward financial viability. The automakers would have until March 31, 2009 to have their plans approved. Congressman Forbes made the following statement following the House vote on H.R. 7321, “The bailout we voted on today, like all of the others, continues to ask those same taxpayers to pay for the mistakes of large, mismanaged companies, rather than providing real solutions to address our economic challenges.” Follow this link to read Congressman Forbes’ full statement on the bill.

H.R. 7327, which would help workers and seniors safeguard their retirement savings in these difficult economic times by suspending the tax penalty for individuals over age 70 and a half who do not take a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from their IRA or 401(k) plan. When tax-deferred retirement accounts were first enacted under law, the RMD requirement was included to ensure that the tax preferences established for retirement income were not misused as permanent tax shelters or as vehicles for transmitting wealth to heirs. Under the RMD rule, individuals must begin withdrawing a minimum amount of money from their retirement accounts at age 70 and a half, or face a tax penalty equal to 50% of the RMD amount. The RMD is calculated based on the previous year's account balances, so the requirement for this year has burdened many seniors due to low account values as a result the decline in the economy and the stock market. H.R. 7327  would suspend, for one year, the tax penalty for individuals over age 70 and a half who do not take an RMD from their IRA or 401(k) plan. 

Voted against
H.R. 1424, the Senate version of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, after also voting against H.R. 3997 – the House version of the bailout bill. Congressman Forbes released the following statement after voting against the bailout: “When I voted against the first Wall Street bailout bill on Monday, I did so because I was not willing to risk $700 billion of taxpayer dollars on a plan that I, after talking with senior Treasury officials and the former chairman of the FDIC, was not confident would work. The revised bailout bill we voted on today contained a number of positive provisions, including increasing FDIC insurance coverage for American families and businesses. Even with these improvements, the core of the bill remained the same – the federal government will purchase $700 billion in bad assets from private corporations who have made poor financial decisions, and there is still no assurance as to whether the expenditure of $700 billion will solve the problem at hand. It became a bit like adding ornaments to a Christmas tree that no one wants; no matter how many ornaments were added, the problem was still the tree. I could not support a bill that leaves us with no backstop if it fails.” Click here to learn more about the initial bailout plan and its potential effect on the economy, and here to read Congressman Forbes’ analysis of the proposal and the reasons he chose to oppose it.

Voted against
H.R. 7110, Providing for Appropriations for Job Creation and Preservation, Infrastructure Investment, and Economic and Energy Assistance for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009. This legislation was billed as a second economic stimulus but would have increased the National Debt to pay for over $60 billion in new government spending.  The bill would provide $35 billion in additional funding for infrastructure, extend insurance benefits by an additional seven weeks nationwide and by an additional 13 weeks for workers in states with high unemployment, provide over $14 billion in additional funding for state Medicaid programs, and provide an additional $2.6 billion for food stamps. 

Voted in support of
H.R. 7005 which would provide a one-year “patch” to the Alternative Minimum Tax. The AMT was created in 1969 as a means to ensure that the wealthiest citizens were not able to lower their taxes through deductions and tax credits. Unfortunately, the AMT was never adjusted for inflation and it is estimated that, without this patch, up to 22 million Americans could be subject to the AMT. H.R. 7005 would provide a “clean” one year patch to the AMT without increasing taxes and increases the AMT exemption amount to $69,950 for joint filers and $46,200 for individuals.

Voted in support of
H.R. 7006 which would provide much-needed tax relief to victims of natural disasters. This disaster relief bill would create a new program of tax breaks for areas with declared disasters in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. It would provide low-income housing tax credits to affected areas, allow victims to deduct losses more liberally and let more companies apply current losses against past years’ profits. The bill would also increase the deduction that volunteers can take for mileage driven for charitable purposes.

Voted in favor of the Conference Report on
H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act. This bill establishes more stringent consumer product safety standards and other safetfor children's products.  Among its provisions, there would be mandatory third-party testing for certain toys, tracking labels for children’s products, and minimum standards for nursery products such as cribs and other furniture. The bill reauthorizes and modernizes the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) through 2014, giving the CPSC enhanced recall authority and requiring greater sharing of information with local and state authorities.

H.R. 1338, the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill would allow trial lawyers to sue employers for unlimited compensatory and punitive damages in pay discrimination cases, even when a disparity in pay was unintentional. It would also add non-retaliation requirements, increase penalties on employers, and includes other wage-related provisions, at a cost of $15 million over five years. In addition, the bill would change current class action lawsuit requirements from “opt-in” to “opt-out,” allowing trial lawyers to submit massive class action suits without the knowledge or express consent of each plaintiff.

H.R. 3232, the Travel Promotion Act of 2007. This bill would establish a non-profit corporation to communicate United States entry policies and otherwise promote tourist, business, and scholarly travel to the United States.

H.R. 3402, the Calling Card Consumer Protection Act. This bill would require accurate and reasonable disclosure of the terms and conditions of prepaid telephone calling cards and services.

H.R. 7175, the Small Business Lending Improvements Act of 2008. This bill would amend the Small Business Act to improve the section 7(a) lending program by increasing the availability of loans to small businesses in rural areas.

H.Res. 1294, the National Save for Retirement Week, which raises public awareness of the importance of saving adequately for retirement and the availability of tax-preferred employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k)s. 

H.R. 6307, the Fostering Connections to Success Act, which amends parts of the Social Security Act to assist children in foster care in developing or maintaining connections to family, community, support, health care, and school.

H.R. 1767, the Consumer Rental Purchase Agreement Act.  This bill would protect small businesses from costly lawsuits while also protecting consumers from unfair business practices by requiring rental-purchase agreements to contain specific disclosures of information. 

H.Res. 1236, which expresses the sympathy of the House of Representatives to the citizens of Black Hawk, Buchanan, Butler, and Delaware Counties, Iowa, who were victims of the devastating tornado that struck their communities on May 25, 2008.

Signed a letter to Governor Kaine asking his support for
H.R.5267, the Business Activity Tax Simplification Act.  This bill would ensure fairness for businesses and minimize costly litigation for both state governments and taxpayers.  This bill also would create the kind of legally certain and stable business environment that encourages businesses to make investments, expand interstate commerce and create new jobs.  At the same time, the bill would ensure that businesses continue to pay business activity taxes to states that provide them with direct benefits and protections.

H.R. 5793, the Cell Tax Fairness Act of 2008.  The bill prohibits states or local governments from imposing any new tax that is targeted specifically on cell phone service for five years.

H.R. 6049, the Energy and Tax Extenders Act of 2008.  This bill would extend many tax provisions that Congressman Forbes supports, but it contains a major tax giveaway for trial lawyers. Furthermore, it would fail to extend the exemption for the Alternative Minimum Tax, which penalizes more than 25 million taxpayers every year.  The bill would expand Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rates to construct and repair renewable energy facilities funded with tax credit bonds, which would adversely impact small business’ access to construction performed under the program. 

H.R. 2380, the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act, which would provide better financial stability to small businesses and family farms by eliminating the federal estate and gift taxes. This legislation would also make permanent the estate tax approved by Congress five years ago, set to expire in 2010.

H.R. 1304, the Motorsports Fairness & Permanency Act, which would permanently extend the tax depreciation provisions of the 2003 tax cuts, which are set to expire in 2008. This would allow the Richmond International Raceway and the Martinsville Speedway to plan for capital improvements to keep them competitive and keep motorsports thriving in Virginia.

H.R. 1576, the Tax Credits for Land Conservation Act, which would make permanent the tax credit for conservation easement donations. H.R. 1576 would raise the deduction a landowner can take for donating a conservation easement from 30% of their income in any year to 50%. In addition, this legislation would allow qualifying farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their income. Finally, H.R. 1576 would extend the carry-forward period for a donor to take tax deductions from 5 to 15 years. H.R. 1576 would help the Commonwealth achieve its goal of establishing 400,000 conservation acres.

Voted twice to prevent the largest tax increase in American history.  
 The Majority’s budget proposal for FY 2009-2013 (H.Con.Res.312) would impose the largest tax increase on American taxpayers in history — $683 billion over the next five years, and a $2,915 annual increase in federal taxes on the average taxpayer in Virginia’s Fourth District. This week, Congressman Forbes voted on two procedural motions that would have prohibited these tax increases from going into effect. 

Voted against
H.R. 5719, the Taxpayer Assistance and Simplification Act of 2008.  H.R. 5719 contained several tax incentives for American consumers and businesses, many of which have been included in legislation previously passed by the House of Representatives during the 110th Congress.  However, this legislation would also eliminate the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to utilize private debt collection companies and impose substantiation requirements for withdrawing money from Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).  HSAs have become an increasingly important and popular option for providing individuals more control over the cost of their health care.  The substantiation requirements proposed in this legislation would create unnecessary delays in reimbursements, fewer electronic transactions, and increased administrative costs for consumers. 

Signed a
letter to the House Budget Committee supporting a tax credit for parents who choose to adopt.   Today, international adoptions can cost as much as $20,000 to 30,000, and domestic adoptions can cost as much as $15,000.  These high costs often deter parents who otherwise would be willing and able to adopt a child.  Making the 2001 adoption tax credit permanent will ensure that Americans who adopt a child continue to receive a credit for qualified expenses, and guarantee the maximum $10,000 credit for those who adopt children with special needs.

H.R. 5109, Economic Growth Act of 2008.  H.R. 5109 is legislation that would provide broad, growth-oriented, permanent incentives for economic activity across all sectors and industries, with immediate application and sustained, long-term implications.  This bill would encourage the purchase of assets with which to grow a business by allowing all businesses to immediately expense—or fully deduct on their tax returns—the costs of assets.   The bill would immediately cut the top corporate income tax rate from 35% to 25%, aligning it with the average rate in the European Union.  By allowing businesses to keep more of the money they earn, this provision would encourage the expansion of businesses, the hiring of more workers, and an acceleration of investment, while making American companies more competitive internationally. Additionally, the bill would end capital gains tax on inflation.  The bill would index for inflation the cost basis used when calculating the capital gains tax on assets acquired before the end of 2008.  Under current law, the capital gains tax is based on the difference in the original purchase price of the asset and the sale price of the asset.  However, some of this difference, or “gain,” can be attributed to inflation.  By effectively reducing the amount of a gain that is taxable, this provision would encourage the movement of capital in 2008 and spur voluminous economic investment.

Voted against a further expansion of
H.R. 5140, the economic stimulus package, after the bill returned to the House from the Senate.   The bill would provide rebates to taxpayers and those who didn’t pay taxes and would increase the deficit by about $140 billion.  Congressman Forbes opposed the bill because it provided $30 billion in tax "rebates" to people who did not pay taxes in 2007.  Congressman Forbes supports long-term tax policies that will stimulate sustained growth for individuals and businesses, not one-time economic boosts that increase the federal debt with no proven results.  Congressman Forbes does support the business provisions in H.R. 5140, including establishing a 50% bonus deduction on new equipment in the year it is placed in service and allowing companies to fully expense $250,000 in both new and used tangible property in the year that it is purchased up to an overall limit of $750,000. For more information on Congressman Forbes' vote on the economic stimulus package, click here.

Voted in favor of the Senate Amendments to
H.R. 3996, a bill to provide a one year patch to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The AMT was created in 1969 as a means to ensure that the wealthiest citizens were not able to lower their taxes through deductions and tax credits. Unfortunately, the AMT was never adjusted for inflation and it is estimated that without this patch, in 2007, up to 23 million Americans could be subject to the AMT. Estimates show that by 2010, 32 million Americans could be subject to the AMT and by 2016, 50 million Americans (47% of total taxpayers) could be subject to the AMT. The House of Representatives passed two previous versions of this legislation that Congressman Forbes did not support because in each version, the temporary one year AMT patch was offset by permanent tax increases. The Senate Amendments to H.R. 3996 provide a “clean” one year patch to the AMT without increasing taxes and increases the AMT exemption amount to $66,250 for joint filers and $44,350 for individuals.

Voted in favor of
H.R. 3997, the Heroes’ Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act, a bill to make it easier for some veterans to qualify for certain low-cost mortgages, help service members receiving combat pay qualify for the earned-income tax credit, and improve some military families’ ability to receive Supplemental Security Income. It would also allow volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders to avoid paying federal income taxes on any state or local tax rebates or abatement they receive.

Voted against
H.R. 3996, the Temporary Tax Relief Act. This bill would have provided a one year extension for many popular expiring tax deductions and tax credits and it would have adjusted the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) level. However, although this bill included positive provisions, it would offset the the temporary tax cuts by imposing new permanent taxes to pay for the revenue loss.

Voted in favor of
H.R. 3678, the Internet Tax Freedom Act Amendments Act of 2007, which would amend the Internet Tax Freedom Act to extend the moratorium on certain taxes relating to the Internet and to electronic commerce until November 1, 2011.

Voted in favor of
H.R. 3648, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act. If a homeowner’s property has devalued from its initial purchase price, the homeowner sometimes will negotiate with the bank to have some of his or her mortgage debt forgiven. This can happen through a “short sale” of the property or refinancing or even foreclosure. However, under the law, any amount of debt forgiven by the bank is viewed by the IRS as income and will be taxed. This imposes a tax on people who can least afford it. H.R. 3648 would exempt this phantom income from taxation.

Cosponsored H.R. 3660, the Equity for Our Nation’s Self-Employed Act, which would correct the tax inequity facing self-employed workers. Under current tax law, corporations are able to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums as a business expense and forego payroll taxes on these costs. The self-employed are unable to take the same deduction. As a result they pay an additional 15.3% tax on their health insurance premiums. Virginia has almost half a million self-employed businesses and is ranked #11 in the United States based on 2005 IRS data.

H.R. 1742, the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act, which would reduce the taxable depreciation period for automatic fire sprinkler systems from 39 years to 5 years. This makes it more affordable for building owners to recoup the expense associated with installing these expensive systems by classifying automatic fire sprinkler systems as five-year property for purposes of depreciation. The National Fire Protection Association has no record of a fire killing more than two people where a complete, and fully operation automatic fire sprinkler system was installed.

H.R. 2138, the Investment in America Act of 2007, which would establish a permanent research and development tax credit in the current tax code, which is scheduled to expired at the end of 2007. The research and development tax credit helps to keep America competitive while keeping high paying jobs onshore.

H.R. 743, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, which would establish a permanent prohibition on taxation of Internet access and would prohibit any taxation that would single out Internet users for unfair tax treatment. The current ban will expire on November 1, 2007. H.R. 743 does not impact any State’s ability to tax on-line sales, nor does it prohibit the collection of franchise fees or general property, business, and telecommunications taxes.

H.R. 1421, the Parents' Tax Relief Act of 2007, which would expand the daycare tax credit to include stay-at-home parents, supporting the right that parents have to child care choice. In addition, the bill contains common-sense tax measures such as making marriage penalty relief and the child tax deduction permanent, while encouraging home-based businesses and telecommuting to help parents spend more time with their children.

H.R. 2734, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2007. H.R. 2734 would make permanent tax reductions enacted by the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. This tax reductions, which have helped stimulate our economy, include:(1) the tax deduction for state and local sales taxes; (2) the tax deduction for tuition and related expenses; (3) the increased expensing allowance for small business assets and related provisions; and (4) the tax credit for increasing research activities.

H.R. 643, the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act of 2007. Under current tax law, only colleges and universities may use tax-deductible charitable contributions to make improvements to student residence halls as well as common areas and dining facilities used by college students. The not-for-profit student housing market, which includes community, Greek and faith-based organizations, providing housing for several hundred thousand college students nationwide, cannot use tax-deductible charitable contributions to make similar improvements for the same student population. The not-for-profit student housing market, therefore, often lacks the resources needed to maintain their housing. H.R. 643 would eliminate the difference in treatment of charitable contributions made to improve student housing on college campuses nationwide.

H.R. 1261, the Capital Gains Inflation Relief Act of 2007, legislation that would eliminate the capital gains tax on inflation. The capital gains tax is charged on a profit from the sale of assets, such as real estate or stocks. This legislation would encourage more long-term investments and reduce the tax burden for millions of Americans.

H.R. 1586, the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2007, which would provide better financial stability to small businesses and family farms by eliminating the federal estate and gift taxes. This legislation would also make permanent the estate tax approved by Congress five years ago, set to expire in 2010.

The Tax Relief for Families Act, H.R. 411, which would make some of the most popular, common-sense tax cuts permanent to help Americans better provide for their families and help our economy. Specifically, it will make permanent the Child Tax Credit, Marriage Penalty Relief, College Tuition Deduction, State and Local Sales Tax Deduction, School Teacher Expense Deduction, and it would repeal the estate tax.

Cosponsored the Tax Code Termination Act,
which would abolish the Internal Revenue Code by December 31, 2010 and establish a new federal tax system by July of 2010. This legislation would terminate our current tax code and force Congress to fully debate and address fundamental tax reform.