Relief For The Middle Class
EARLIER this week I made the difficult decision to oppose a financial bailout bill that did not adequately serve the middle-class families and small businesses hit hardest by the credit crisis.
My opposition to the original $700 billion measure came after much deliberation and countless conversations with constituents, colleagues and economic experts. Do not mistake my vote for an underestimation of America's economic decline. I fully acknowledge that we are in the middle of a grave financial crisis and embrace my responsibility to immediately remedy it.
The historic number of foreclosed homes in our neighborhoods reminds us how desperately the average family is struggling. Emptier shelves and smaller, overworked staffs have become the norm for local businesses. The credit they once relied on for purchasing power is drying up fast. Consumers suffer with higher costs to make up the difference. Unemployment is on the rise from the financial sector to jobs in retail, services, manufacturing and construction.
On the other side of the river, failed CEOs are walking away from their own mess with multi-million-dollar compensation packages. This is not an indictment of Wall Street, but rather an indication that irresponsible deregulation allowed corporate greed to trump America's economic interests.
Lifting up communities is a priority I place above bailing out bankers.
In order to gain my support, the revised financial recovery package should do two things. It should provide relief to middle-class families and help them stay in their homes. It must also take immediate action to restore confidence in the credit market.
The new recovery bill has some attractive additions that could help middle-class homeowners and local businesses jump start the economy, but it is far from perfect. It is a departure from the disciplined budget principles I have fought for and lacks the caliber of oversight Congress needs.
The inclusion of language to protect more than 25 million people from being hit with the Alternative Minimum Tax is a worthy addition. In my congressional district alone, 55,000 middle-class families stand to benefit. I am displeased that the provision is not revenue neutral, but recognize the urgency of patching the problem.
Another encouraging development is an expansion of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's insurance limits. By increasing FDIC limits from $100,000 to $250,000, Congress would restore faith in our banks and give families and small business a secure place to deposit their funds.
Community banks and credit unions will offer enhanced lending opportunities and small businesses will regain the confidence essential to make capital improvements, purchase inventory and boost employment.
It is exactly the type of bottom-up approach we need to put liquidity back into Wall Street.
I thank the thousands of people who have contacted my office with their opinions and concerns. I assure you that my vote will be made in the best interest of helping the families encumbered by our failing economy.
The forecast ahead is for a difficult stretch, but I am confident that if we all pull together and act responsibly, our economy can be resilient again.
Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, represents the 8th Congressional District.