Ways and Means Hearing Adds to Call for “Main Street” Economic Recovery Package

Oct 29, 2008

Washington, DC – Witnesses appearing before the House Committee on Ways and Means today added to the growing chorus of voices calling for an economic recovery package to provide assistance to families and State and local governments struggling in the current crisis.  Today’s hearing was part of a series of actions taken by Congress to further examine the economic pain facing families and move forward to rebuild economic security in the wake of the financial turmoil. 

“We may not be able to use the word recession, but we certainly know that families are hurting back home,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel.  “Our communities have lost jobs in the economic downturn and many of our panelists today will have to return home to meet the challenge of balancing their budgets, making decisions to cut services while weighing the possible economic impact of cuts to education, health care and other vital areas.  It is my hope that, as a result of testimony at this hearing, members of this committee would better realize how critical a new recovery effort is and that they would encourage the leadership of both parties to come back after the election and see what we can do to provide assistance to working families as well as local and State governments as we have done for the banking and financial sectors.”

Witnesses appearing before the panel included elected representatives from State and local governments as well as economists and experts in various policy fields related to economic stimulus.  Throughout the hearing, witnesses cautioned against the dangerous budget shortfalls facing State and local governments and the need for immediate assistance to avoid further harm to working families. 

“I firmly believe that if it took only took two weeks for the Federal government to find $700 billion dollars to bail out Wall Street and the bank executives that brought our financial system to the brink of collapse, then we ought to be able to find a fraction of that amount to help preserve essential services at the State level that will help lift up Americans out of poverty, expand opportunity for the middle class, and protect our economic future,” said Governor David Paterson (D-NY), who testified before the Committee.  “States didn’t cause this crisis and we shouldn’t be left to deal with it alone.  A rescue package from the Federal government will help soften the blow for average Americans. It could make the difference between targeted, surgical spending reductions that will help heal our fiscal condition and massive and wide-ranging cuts that will cause irreparable damage to millions of families.”

Among the economic recovery initiatives discussed during today’s hearing:

  • Extension and possible expansion of unemployment benefits
  • Assistance to States dealing with shortfalls for health care funding
  • Infrastructure investment to create jobs and begin ‘shovel-ready’ projects
  • Investment in education projects to improve crumbling school buildings and enhance learning opportunities for students
  • Strengthen pensions and retirement savings for millions of workers and retirees
  • Improve assistance for child support enforcement to help parents struggling in the economic downturn

Please click here to view testimony provided by the witnesses appearing before the Ways and Means Committee today.