Monday, February 02, 2009

Letter from Harry Mitchell regarding H.R. 1

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a letter to Congressman Harry Mitchell about the economic stimulus package that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week and will be voted on in the Senate this week.

Today, I received a reply -

Dear Mr. [cpmaz]:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act, H.R. 1. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me on this important issue.

I strongly believe that something must be done to bolster the flagging economy. We are not only struggling with a recession, but also an alarming rise in home foreclosures and unemployment. As of December 2008, the unemployment rate in Arizona was up to 6.9 percent - up from 4.2 percent in December of 2007. Making matters worse, Arizona, like many other states, is facing a serious budget deficit.

I believe that we need an economic recovery package that contains both fast-acting tax cuts as well as timely, targeted investments that will create jobs and help spur much-needed economic growth.

I am not happy with everything in the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act, H.R. 1, but I believe it is a good start, and that we must allow the legislative process to continue. The risk of inaction at this time is simply too great.

The American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act, H.R. 1, contains $275 billion in tax cuts, which would provide approximately 95 percent of taxpayers with relief. H.R. 1 also makes important timely, targeted investments in transportation and infrastructure.

If enacted, states like Arizona would receive funding for planned highway, bridge, transit, and other infrastructure projects that are ready to go. Nationwide, these investments in transportation infrastructure would stimulate the economy in the short-term by creating approximately 1.5 million jobs and would help keep the economy growing in the long run by providing infrastructure that encourages commerce.

As we've seen in Arizona, the right kind of transportation investments can generate economic benefits far beyond that associated with construction. For example, the initial investments we have made at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport are already sustaining 4,500 jobs and, according to a recent study by Arizona State University, generating an economic impact of nearly $500 million.

H.R. 1 would also provide tax incentives for renewable and alternative energy. This investment would immediately create more than half a million green jobs dedicated to moving our country toward energy independence.

Like transportation, we have seen the benefits of these types of investments in Arizona, as well. With the help of solar tax credits, Abengoa Solar and Arizona Public Service are developing the world's largest solar energy plant outside of Gila Bend. The Solana solar generating station will create an estimated 1,500 jobs and provide clean, emission-free energy for 70,000 homes. Solana is expected to ultimately spur $1 billion in local economic development.

Additionally, H.R. 1 would assist states like Arizona which are facing severe budget cuts by investing in education, health care, and unemployment benefits.

H.R. 1 would significantly increase the number of jobs in Arizona and around the country. According to Mark Zandi, a leading independent economist, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would create a minimum of four million jobs by 2010. This would include approximately 125,000 jobs in Arizona, which would decrease the unemployment rate by 2.3 percent by 2010.

To ensure that funding approved in H.R. 1 is spent effectively and appropriately, the legislation would establish a Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board tasked with the oversight of the implementation of the legislation. Additionally, H.R. 1 would establish a new web site,, where all funding information including grant competitions and allocation of formula grants would be made available to the public.

I offered two amendments to try to improve H.R. 1, and I am disappointed that they were blocked from reaching the House floor for debate and a vote. The first amendment would have stopped Congress from taking a pay raise. At a time like this, when so many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, I believe it is unconscionable for Congress to raise its own pay. The second amendment would have made recent tax cuts to capital gains and estate taxes permanent. If Congress does not act, these cuts will expire next year. At a time when we need to encourage growth and investment, I believe it is wrong for us to let these taxes increase.

Despite these shortcomings, I voted for and the House passed H.R. 1 on January 28 by a vote of 244 to188. This legislation is now pending before the Senate, where I hope it will be further refined.Please be assured that I will continue to work in a bipartisan manner to help Congress enact an effective stimulus package that our nation urgently needs.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write to me about this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if you have additional comments or concerns.

If you would like to receive email updates about how I am working on behalf of Arizona's 5th Congressional District, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter at


Harry E. Mitchell
Member of Congress



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