Dear [KC's name withheld]:
Thank you for contacting me on your concerns for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (H.R. 1424). This bill was passed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis and with my support by a vote of 74-25 on October 1st. The House of Representatives passed this bill by a vote of 263-171, and the President has signed it into law.
There was a great deal of misinformation about this legislation.
The Congress needed to take action to prevent this financial crisis from spreading throughout our economy, further threatening retirement accounts, saving plans for college educations, and a widespread freeze on the ability of individual Americans to obtain credit.
I am told that on September 29th, our Permanent Fund lost over a billion dollars. Without action our nation faced a further credit meltdown, which would mean Alaskans would be unable to borrow to finance a home, a car, or withdraw funds from savings accounts. Our seniors would lose the retirement income they rely on to pay monthly bills and retirement accounts for future retirees would plummet in value. In fact, I heard from several Alaskan seniors that they have already suffered substantial losses in retirement savings, and one who lost $40,000 after the House of Representatives failed to pass economic recovery legislation on September 29th.
Because I shared many of the concerns and misgivings expressed to me by Alaskans, I personally asked Senators negotiating this legislation to include provisions to limit executive compensation and bonuses in this stabilization bill. The bill we passed also requires increased review of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (new oversight), taxpayer protections, foreclosure prevention, and requires that every dollar repaid to the Treasury for assistance under the new law must be used by the Treasury to reduce the federal debt. The Senate also included provisions to temporarily increase the amount of Federal Deposit Insurance - the money in your bank account guaranteed by the government - from $100,000 to $250,000. (The $100,000 level was established in 1980. This is the equivalent of approximately $266,000 now.)
Attached are summaries of the Emergency Economic Stabilization bill prepared by the Senate Banking and Senate Budget Committees that explain these and other provisions in this legislation.
In addition, the bill contains several provisions that many Alaskans asked me to secure, and that had previously passed the Senate, but were defeated in the House. These include a provision that Alaskans receiving payments related to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill may treat the money as having been received over three years; an extension of the Secure Rural Schools Act, which funds rural schools and communities which were dependent on revenue from timber sales no longer available because of reduced opportunities to harvest timber from Federal forests; and, an extension of renewable energy tax credits. Also, the legislation provides a fix for middle-income Americans who would otherwise be subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), a tax originally designed to affect only the wealthiest Americans.
Voting for this legislation was not an easy decision, but, in the final analysis I decided these provisions were important and passage of this bill was necessary to prevent the hardships that would otherwise have seriously affected Alaskans, our small businesses, and our nation's and our State's economic growth.
With best wishes,
Don and Lisa have yet to mail me their letters. I'll probably post them, too.