April 2, 2008
Earlier this year, Congress passed an economic stimulus package to put money in the hands of working families, seniors and veterans who need it most and would spend it to get our slowing economy moving again. Arkansans should soon begin receiving their checks, and I am hopeful that the tax rebates will give our economy a much-needed surgical shot. As with any surgery, the rehabilitation and recovery procedures that follow are absolutely critical to ensuring long-term health and strength. While the economic stimulus plan is an important first step, I believe that Congress must develop a comprehensive strategy to revitalize our economy by rebuilding our nation for the 21 st century and reinvesting in American businesses and American workers.
Investing in infrastructure, particularly transportation infrastructure, and our human capital are critical pieces to a long-term investment strategy. Clean drinking water, flood controls, bridges and roads are needs in every community. FAA reauthorization also would provide resources for airport construction and repair. These investments make our nation more secure and create jobs nationwide. Every $ 1 billion spent on public works projects provides nearly 47, 000 jobs. The $ 9 billion provided for these projects in the budget recently passed by the U. S. Senate would create nearly one-half million new jobs.
Another vehicle for implementing our long-term vision – and something that is ready to be passed – is the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill, in effect, is stimulus for rural America. The bipartisan bill overwhelmingly passed by the Senate provides more resources for nutrition, conservation, rural development and renewable energy priorities than ever before. The increased dollars for nutrition will reduce food insecurity among lowincome children and our elderly by funding programs like the school lunch program and Meals on Wheels. The conservation provisions provide resources to ensure that we are the best stewards of our land and that we will leave our children the environment they deserve. The rural development title will continue to make investments to help small businesses and entrepreneurs through programs like the broadband initiative. The energy incentives will help nurture energy conservation and reduce our dependence on foreign oil by creating an additional marketplace for our producers in the growing biofuels industry. Passage of this bill will make an immediate difference in Arkansas and all of rural America.
Certainty in the tax code will spur new investments and help provide long-term security. I recently spoke with an Arkansan who works in the railroad industry. His small business is prepared to invest significant dollars in upgrades and improvements to his rail line this year, but he needs the short-line rail credit – which expired at the end of 2007 – to make it economically viable. Other tax extenders like the research and development credit and credits for renewable energy and education also need to be renewed so businesses can make needed investments that will help in our economic recovery. In order for these incentives to work as intended, taxpayers must be able to rely on them and know that they will be there.
By laying out a vision and a roadmap that makes timely and effective capital investments in the communities across this great nation, we will bring long-term stability to our country, which translates to long-term stability for America’s workers and businesses. Americans deserve to feel secure about their future, and it is our responsibility to show leadership and promote policies that continue to create jobs and put dollars in the hands of taxpayers. In the months and weeks ahead, I will be working with my Senate colleagues to ensure that we are making the necessary long-term investments that will ensure a strong economic recovery.
U. S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln can be contacted in Washington, D. C. at (202 ) 224-4843, or in her Arkansas office at (800 ) 352-9364.
Source: NORTHWEST ARKANSAS NEWS