Jobs & the Economy
Long Island is going through challenging economic times. Many New Yorkers found themselves out of a job after Superstorm Sandy, which caused an estimated $32.8 billion in economic damage to our economy. I spearheaded House efforts to pass $60.4 billion in disaster relief funding for areas hit by Sandy, which includes Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Part of this funding is being allocated to help businesses recoup losses and return to full operational status – so New Yorkers can get back to work. It will take time to restore Long Island after this record-setting storm, and I will do everything in my power to ensure New Yorkers have the funds they need to rebuild their homes, businesses and livelihoods.
In addition to aiding those in need after Superstorm Sandy, Congress must make job creation and economic recovery its biggest priorities. We need legislation that provides tax relief for middle class families and small businesses, revitalizes the stagnant housing market, encourages banks to lend, reduces bureaucratic red tape, and spends responsibly in job-creating industries like infrastructure creation and improvement.
To that end, I have advocated for an extended and expanded New Markets Tax Credit, which works to stimulate private investment and economic growth in lower-income neighborhoods to grow businesses, create jobs, and sustain healthy local economies. The NMTC provides a 39% federal tax credit, taken over seven years, on investments made in economically distressed communities to finance businesses and economic revitalization efforts. This credit has already been put to use in Bohemia and Bay Shore, and could continue to benefit other parts of Long Island if extended.
The housing market is often a bellwether of the health of the overall economy. Last Congress I fought to make sure housing is affordable for Long Islanders by securing an extension of Federal Housing Administration mortgage loan limits. This maintained access to lower-interest home financing and provided needed funds for Long Islanders to buy and sell their homes.
To assist veterans who are homeless and have fallen on hard times, I worked to secure increased funding for Veterans Supportive Housing. This provides homeless vets with increased access to housing vouchers and VA clinical services – helping them to get back on their feet so they have the opportunity for employment and a fresh start. I also introduced the Jobs for Veterans Act of 2013 (H.R. 3653) to increase the work opportunity tax credit for employers who hire veterans discharged or released from active military duty after September 11, 2001.
I also believe Americans deserve to be paid a living wage. I am a strong supporter of the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act (H.R. 831), which phases out the discriminatory practice of paying disabled workers less than the federal minimum wage.
An analysis released in January 2014 by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will reduce employment by as much as 2.5 million jobs over the next ten years. To help combat this job loss, I have cosponsored the Save American Workers Act of 2013 (H.R. 2575) which would repeal the 30-hour definition of “full-time employment” in Obamacare and restore the traditional 40-hour definition. This will help hourly workers, who are seeing their hours cut and their paychecks reduced as a result of the Obamacare employer mandate. Repealing this redefinition of “full time employment” and restoring it to the historical norm ensures the working poor and middle class employees are protected, and laws governing employment are consistent.
In my role on the Financial Services Committee, I have pushed for legislation that improves our business climate by scaling back unnecessary red tape. I cosponsored and voted for the JOBS Act (H.R. 3606) which helps new businesses grow by reducing regulation and increasing financing options. President Obama signed this legislation into law in April 2012. I also introduced the Capital Access for Small Businesses and Jobs Act (H.R. 719) to make it easier for local credit unions to grow to meet the needs of small businesses, homebuyers and families.
Lastly, reforming our tax code is key to improving our economy. On January 1, 2013, I voted for legislation (H.R. 8) that permanently extended the Bush tax cuts for 99% of Americans – shielding the vast majority of New Yorkers from a massive tax increase. While this was an important achievement, our tax code remains excessively complex and convoluted. I support a complete overhaul of the tax system by broadening the tax base and lowering rates, which would make U.S. businesses more competitive in the global economy, and ideally reduce the tax burden for our middle class – making our local businesses more profitable.