Families across Maryland are hurting and that is why I am extremely pleased that Congress and the White House came together in a bipartisan way to pass an economic stimulus package. It is a measure that is targeted, temporary and timely. It will help middle and low-income Americans who are the most vulnerable in these uncertain economic times.
Bipartisan cooperation in the Senate improved the stimulus package by adding rebate checks for 20 million seniors and 250,000 disabled veterans. I regret that we failed by just one vote to include additional relief for long-term unemployed Americans, those facing foreclosure and Americans with high heating bills in the stimulus package.
The final package, which President Bush has signed into law, will provide tax relief up to $600 per individual for most middle-class Americans ($1,200 for those filing jointly), and an additional $300 credit per child. Anyone who receives at least $3,000 in Social Security income, self-employment income or veterans’ disability payments (including payments to survivors of disabled veterans) also will get a rebate of at least $300. Tax relief is phased out for individuals with incomes above $75,000 and for married couples earning more than $150,000. Most Americans should receive their checks in May.
I am pleased that the stimulus package also included an increase in the federal guarantee for mortgage loans through the end of 2008, making them more accessible and affordable, especially in states like Maryland with higher than average housing costs.
The American people came out the winners in passage of this short-term stimulus package. But this stimulus package is just a first step.
We still have serious problems facing our economy. We have a federal deficit that is projected to increase to $410 billion; the cost of a barrel of oil is hovering around $100 — a burden for many Americans who must heat their homes and fill up their gas tanks; and we all feel the effects of escalating health care costs. By any measure, millions of Americans are facing hardship in such an unstable economic environment.
I urge the President and Congress to follow the example of the bipartisan stimulus package in tackling other critical issues affecting our economy. We cannot wait to act while millions of Americans face foreclosure, rising heating and gas prices and soaring health care costs.