Madam Speaker, it is with significant reluctance and reticence that I will vote yes, on final passage, of the Economic Recovery Act. In the State of Michigan, which is facing record high unemployment, failure of businesses, and increasingly tighter credit markets, we must do something, right now, to ensure that the citizens, businesses, and organizations of the city of Detroit, the State of Michigan and the United States of America survive. This is not a perfect bill. I would have preferred that Congress explore other options, most of which did not involve a single dime from taxpayers, as was utilized during the savings and loan crisis, in a more deliberate manner. The provisions in the bill that
recommend'' andsuggest'' that the Secretary of the Treasury protect senior citizens, working families and others facing foreclosure; that ensure the utilization of qualified ethnic minority and women owned businesses, among others, need monitoring and oversight. The provisions are woefully inadequate and need improvement.
My yes vote, and it is perhaps one of the most difficult votes I have made in my 30 years as a public servant, is a reflection of the fact that if Congress does not do something soon, we possibly face an economic Armageddon the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression. Since I voted against the first version of this bill, the stock market has dropped a net of over 500 points and over one trillion dollars in total value. Our labor market has lost over 200,000 jobs in the month of September. Inflation has risen to new highs. My office has been besieged with phone calls from hundreds of small- and medium-sized businesses that cannot purchase goods or services or meet their payroll because they cannot access their lines of credit. Parents in Michigan are concerned that they cannot secure student loans for their children. This inevitably hurts all Americans.
The Constitution of the United States, to which each and every Member of Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, takes an oath to protect and defend at the beginning of each 2-year session of Congress. Article I, Section 9, clause seven, of the U.S. Constitution says ``no money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of Appropriations made by law.'' The Constitution also establishes three separate and distinct branches of government: the legislative, judicial and executive branches. As an Appropriator and for our U.S. House of Representatives, I oppose this bill's unprecedented and unparalleled secession of the power granted to us by the people and
the Constitution transferred to one appointed person from the executive branch of the Federal Government.
Households in Detroit, the State of Michigan, and America feel the rumblings of the financial earthquake beneath their feet. Unemployment has risen to all-time highs. Michigan is one of the leading States in unemployment, home foreclosures as well as business losses. The sudden, precipitous and dramatic slump in home values, retirement accounts and pensions is a prelude to worse things to come. I have fielded dozens of phone calls from businesses in my district from small convenience stores and automobile dealerships, to large corporations that are unable to access credit lines to make their payrolls. Without swift, immediate, and strong fiscal action and direction, America and Americans are in dire trouble.
Again, it is impossible for parents to get student loans for their children attending college. It is virtually impossible to get a mortgage with a rate that is reasonable. It is hard to find a decent, paying job. Again, it is tough for businesses to get loans to purchase those goods, items, and services that mean the difference between surviving and thriving, or even making their payroll. We have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs in America this decade. This bill is not a cure-all, by any means. However, it is a start to stop the bleeding from which so many of our citizens and businesses suffer.
This bill does contain several provisions for which I fought and support. The bill will immediately increase the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's, FDIC, limit from $100,000 to $250,000, which will increase confidence citizens have in our banking system and prevent bank runs. The home foreclosure provision allows the Secretary, at his discretion, to lower the interest rate and, in some cases, the principal of home mortgages, ensuring that more citizens will stay in their homes and not on the streets this winter. This bill will provide property tax relief to up to 30 million homeowners--extending a new $1,000 property tax deduction for non-itemizing couples through the end of 2009. Finally, the bill provides that minority- and women-owned businesses, along with minority professionals, at the suggestion of the Secretary of the Treasury, will be included as contractors and analysts and will hopefully get a portion of the $700 billion that will be utilized by Secretary Paulson to stabilize our economy.
A key aspect of this bill that will become law is mental health parity for all Americans. Regrettably, too many private health insurers often provide less coverage for mental illnesses than for other medical conditions. Many insurers believe that mental health disorders are tough to diagnose, and that care for mental illness is ineffective, expensive and simply not worth the money. Thanks to this bill, all Americans will have access to mental health care. When mental health care is a part of our general health care, there is often little or no increase in cost to insurers. This is a most important aspect of the bill and is an aspect of which we all can be proud.
While these provisions are not as strong as I would like, my opposition to the overall bill, or to these provisions, is not strong enough to risk the enormous battering that continues to hammer our families and our economic system. The economic consequences of inaction are such that the citizens and businesses of our State and our Nation might not survive. That is a risk that I refuse to take. I will continue to fight for even stronger rules and regulations as we work in the wake of this bill, under a new Democratic President.
With the faith of God, with the support of the people of Michigan, and with the guidance and leadership of my ancestors, I will continue to work and fight to ensure that American families will be able to stay in their homes; that businesses will come back even stronger and employ, engage and ensure that more people have decent, fair paying jobs; and that Detroit and Michigan will rise to the heights that once made it, and America, the world's manufacturing powerhouse. My support of this bill is a beginning step in that direction.