In Case You Missed It
In Case You Missed It: A column by Senator Ensign has been posted to www.Forbes.com. The column talks about a proposal Ensign is pushing on Capitol Hill as a way to help thaw our frozen credit markets and help our struggling economy.
The bill has the support of 34 groups and associations, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the Real Estate Roundtable. Collectively, these groups represent hundreds of thousands of companies with tens of millions of workers. Ensign has discussed this issue with President-elect Obama’s Administration as they consider what to put in their economic stimulus plan. See Column HERE
Businesses Need Temporary Tax Relief
John Ensign 01.15.09, 2:20 PM ET
Our economy is hurting and is in need of help more than ever before. No state understands these hard times better than my home state of Nevada. Unemployment is rising, and families are struggling to make ends meet. As we consider what to include in an economic stimulus package, we need to focus on sound and broad-based policies that will help retain jobs, create new opportunities and grow our economy over the long term. As part of this process, we should look toward tax relief that will help thaw the frozen credit markets and, as a result, boost our economy.
One of the major underlying problems still dragging our economy down is a weak and deteriorating housing market. In one swoop, this issue alone hurts seniors preparing for retirement, students heading off to college, families planning for their future and businesses everywhere. There is wide agreement that a key component to resolving our economic trouble lies in loosening up the credit markets.
Last week I introduced a bill to help do just that by suspending certain cancellation of indebtedness (COI) tax rules for two years. This temporary tax relief would provide businesses with the incentives they need to grow, hire employees and remain solvent. We know too many companies have too much debt, and our economy is immobilized until this problem is resolved.
Here's how my bill works and why it would be effective during these trying times, when our economy is so far over-leveraged. Under current law, if a company purchases its own debt at a discount, it is required to pay income tax on the amount of the discount. That is, if a business owes $1 million but negotiates a discounted repayment amount with its lender--say $750,000--so that it does not default, it would have to pay taxes on the $250,000 difference.
First, without a discount, too many companies couldn't repay the debt at all. Second, any attempts to improve an over-leveraged balance sheet should be encouraged, given today's difficult and unusual economic situation. But current law puts a hurdle in the path of the economy's recovery.
This is an approach endorsed by 34 groups, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the Real Estate Roundtable. Collectively, these groups represent hundreds of thousands of companies with tens of millions of workers.
Government does have a role to play, and it is putting in place the right policies, ones that will create and save jobs and grow our economy. It has to be both broad-based for the long term and deliberate enough to inject help exactly where it is needed--into the frozen credit markets.
My legislation reflects the original purpose and vision of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Creating this temporary incentive for businesses to de-leverage and reduce their debt should be part of the stimulus plan to help get our economy back on track.
Ensign Named To Homeland Security Committee
Senator John Ensign was appointed today to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. This is an important committee for Nevada as it has jurisdiction relating to emergency management, public safety, our financial systems and broad oversight responsibility ranging from environmental impact to government efficiency.
“This is an important committee for Nevada when it comes to critical issues such as emergency preparations, our economy and those as frustrated as I am by government waste,” said Ensign, a member of Republican leadership in the Senate. “Yucca Mountain is one of the first examples that come to mind when I think about government waste. It’s the wrong policy for America, and it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
This appointment will be in addition to Senator Ensign’s four other committee assignments: Finance; Commerce, Science and Transportation; Budget; and Rules and Administration. In January, Ensign was selected by his colleagues to serve as the Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, the number four position in GOP leadership.
“With two members on Ways and Means in the House and the Majority Leader in the Senate, Nevada is very well positioned to have a strong voice in Congress,” said Ensign.
For more information on this new committee assignment please visit Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Ensign Health It Bill Proving Effective, Helpful
Thanks to incentives put in place by Senators John Ensign and John Kerry, doctors are beginning to move toward electronic prescribing as opposed to error-prone pen and paper. The Wall Street Journal reported today that the number of physicians prescribing medicines electronically has more than doubled in the past year. Ensign and Kerry’s legislation was signed into law in July 2008.
“This was a common-sense solution that helped bring our healthcare system into the 21st Century,” said Ensign, a long-time advocate of Health Information Technology. “But we need to do more. We need to continue making these simple yet enormously effective updates because Health IT will save lives, lower costs and improve care for everyone.”
Ensign’s legislation provides physicians with incentives to use e-prescribing. This technology decreases prescription errors caused by hard-to-read handwriting, helps to prevent adverse drug interactions, improves quality of care and cuts costs by reducing cumbersome paperwork.
“Health IT can and should be extended even further. Consider our health records as an example. These should be interoperable and electronic so information can be shared faster and more easily, while also lowering costs,” said Ensign. “I’m hopeful that we can continue to find healthcare solutions that improve care and save money through free market principles and technology, rather than a movement toward a Washington-controlled government system.”
No Bailout for Trial Lawyers
“Our country needs more jobs, not more lawsuits.”
Senator John Ensign commented on the Democrats’ so-called Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay bill, which should be named the Trial Lawyer Bailout bill. The Senate considered this legislation today. Ensign’s statement is below.
“Just this week we witnessed an historic Inauguration, and President Barack Obama urged Congress to put the right policies in place to get the economy going. It’s clear that this is domestic priority number one because families are hurting, especially in my home state of Nevada.
“The plan that Democrats are pushing for their lawyer friends will do the exact opposite. It will kill jobs, not create jobs. I believe in ensuring fair pay. I voted for an amendment today that is a better approach because it protects workers who were discriminated against without bringing down small businesses.
“I owned a small business. This bill would increase employer costs dramatically, so dramatically that it will crush small businesses across the country. Small businesses simply cannot afford to ‘lawyer up’ and fight back against the lawsuit open season that this bill creates.
“All economic recovery comes from small businesses, not large business. History has shown us that. So why would we put policies in place that will harm the economic engine that will drive us out of this downturn? We shouldn’t.
“Our country needs more jobs, not more lawsuits.”