April 30, 2009
You don't have to look far to find someone impacted by this recession - whether it's the loss of a job, a reduction in workplace benefits or the evaporation of their retirement, college and personal savings. It could be your neighbor. It could be a family member. It could be you.
All across our country, millions of families and small businesses are struggling to make ends meet during this downturn, and they're looking to our leaders for real solutions to help turn around this situation. They don't care if they're Democratic solutions or Republican solutions. They just want the men and women representing them in office to focus like a laser on getting our economy back on track, helping create more jobs and working together to help rebuild their savings.
Last week, my House Republican colleagues and I offered our latest in a series of solutions on the economy, following the proposals we have offered this year to create twice as many jobs as the Democrats' stimulus spending bill at half the cost, encourage Americans to begin buying homes again, and return some fiscal sanity to the federal budget. Our plan, known as the Savings Recovery Act, has one simple but essential goal: helping Americans rebuild their retirement, college and personal savings accounts, which have been depleted by this recession in ways that few ever could have imagined.
Unfortunately, within hours of our bill's introduction, President Obama opened a Pandora's box that has captured Washington's attention ever since: He signaled his openness to prosecuting those who approved the advanced interrogation techniques even though his own director of national intelligence has acknowledged those techniques yielded high-value intelligence in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The administration and its Democratic allies in Congress have been consumed by the matter ever since.
By shifting their attention away from the economy and focusing instead on their self-made political theater, the administration and Democrats in Congress are missing a golden opportunity to work with Republicans in a bipartisan way on real solutions to get our economy back on track - the same kind of cooperation every American expects and demands of us.
At kitchen tables across America, families are wondering how to stop the hemorrhaging of their savings and begin rebuilding their nest eggs. In fact, a recent National Public Radio poll confirmed that the loss of savings is the American people's top concern during this recession. To provide them the solutions they need to restore their savings, our legislation makes it easier for Americans to save more for their retirement by allowing individuals and families to contribute more to their retirement accounts.
It helps restore 529 college savings plans by reducing the cost of a family's contributions to the plan by nearly half. Our proposal allows more Americans to increase their income without being hit by the Social Security earnings penalty. It suspends the capital gains tax on newly acquired assets for two years and suspends dividend taxes through 2011 to encourage greater investment. It also preserves employee-controlled 401(k)s by blocking efforts to wipe out these savings plans and replace them with government-run accounts.
Last week, in a White House meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, the president and everyone else at the table renewed their commitment to work together and help Americans overcome the very real challenges before them. Cooperating on a plan to help Americans address their top concern - how to rebuild their savings - is an ideal place to start. To do that, Washington Democrats need to stop playing politics with our intelligence community and return their focus to the economic crisis dominating the lives of middle-class families from coast to coast.
John A. Boehner of Ohio is the Republican leader in the House of Representatives.