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Michael Bennet on Budget & Economy

 


Stimulus bill avoided Depression; now we need infrastructure

Q: You helped the stimulus get passed. You say there's nothing to show for it but more debt. Isn't that an admission that the major piece to help the economy simply did not work by this administration?

BENNET: Absolutely not. In fact, what I was saying is true, because we have $13 trillion of debt on the balance sheet and nothing to show for it. We have not even had the decency to maintain the assets that our parents and grandparents built for us: our roads, our bridges, our wastewater systems, our sewer systems; by the way, those weren't Bolsheviks, those weren't socialists that built those things for us--much less build the infrastructure we need for the 21st century.

Q: But the president acknowledges that infrastructure spending has not been really dealt with in this stimulus bill.

BENNET: Transportation, transit and energy infrastructure as well. That stimulus package saved us from going into the second Great Depression. But that's hardly enough.

Source: NBC's Meet the Press: 2010 Colorado Senate debate , Oct 17, 2010

Stimulus bill limited because recession worse than expected

Buck said he would never have voted for the $787 billion federal stimulus spending bill. He also mentioned Bennet's comments last summer that Congress had increased the national debt to $13 trillion "with nothing to show for it."

Bennet said the stimulus bill hasn't been more effective because the U.S. recession was even worse than initially believed. "But 37% of that legislation was in tax cuts," he argued, a claim that Buck's supporters scoffed at.

Source: Pueblo Chieftan coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate Debate , Oct 8, 2010

Use paid back bank bailout funds to reduce the deficit

Q: What are your views on decreasing the federal deficit?

A: Washington has failed to make tough decisions on our budget for too long, and our $13 trillion debt is now a crisis. The experiences that I bring to the table--turning around bankrupt companies, working to balance a budget deficit--can help me make a difference. I have been leading the movement in Congress to address our fiscal mess, including:

  1. Leading on bills to cap the deficit and cap discretionary spending,
  2. Passing a bill I introduced that will use paid back bank bailout funds to reduce the deficit, and
  3. Introducing and voting for measures to make sure Congress has to find a way to pay for any new spending or tax cuts.
We need to put all the options on the table for review by a non-partisan commission that has the teeth to put our country back on sound fiscal footing.
Source: League of Women Voters 2010 Candidate Questionnaire , Aug 11, 2010

Transparency on paying for tax cuts and spending programs

Our fiscal solvency is dependent on our economic recovery. We will not be able to eliminate our budget deficit with a shrinking tax base, and we cannot pay off our national debt until our economy starts to grow again. As a result, our first priority must be to invest in those programs--education, renewable energy, and health care--that we know will provide for stable economic growth in the future. Though it may seem counterintuitive, I believe our future fiscal stability depends on our willingness to spend the money necessary to get our economy moving in the right direction again.

We still have more work to do. Both the House and Senate are now required to find a way to pay for most new spending programs or tax cuts. I believe that these rules could be stronger so that Congress, just like every Colorado family, is required to figure out how to pay for what it spends.

Transparency must be improved by every Member of Congress and throughout the system as a whole.

Source: 2010 Senate campaign website, bennetforcolorado.com "Issues" , Jul 2, 2009

Served two years as Denver Mayor's Chief of Staff

Prior to serving as Superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, Michael served for two years as Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's Chief of Staff. Michael oversaw the balancing of an historic budget deficit, the renegotiation of several collective bargaining agreements, and a complete redesign of the police oversight function. Michael, along with the Mayor, was widely credited with putting together a first rate, diverse team to lead the City through unprecedented fiscal challenges.
Source: Biography on www.senate.gov , Jan 23, 2009

Voted YES on $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. LEWIS (D, GA-5): This bipartisan bill will provide the necessary funds to keep important transportation projects operating in States around the country. The Highway Trust Fund will run out of funding by September. We must act, and we must act now.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. CAMP (R, MI-4): [This interim spending is] needed because the Democrats' economic policy has resulted in record job loss, record deficits, and none of the job creation they promised. Democrats predicted unemployment would top out at 8% if the stimulus passed; instead, it's 9.5% and rising. In Michigan, it's above 15%. The Nation's public debt and unemployment, combined, has risen by a shocking 40% [because of] literally trillions of dollars in additional spending under the Democrats' stimulus, energy, and health plans.

We had a choice when it came to the stimulus last February. We could have chosen a better policy of stimulating private-sector growth creating twice the jobs at half the price. That was the Republican plan. Instead, Democrats insisted on their government focus plan, which has produced no jobs and a mountain of debt.

Reference: Omnibus Appropriations Act Amendment; Bill H.R. 3357 ; vote number 2009-S254 on Jul 30, 2009

Voted YES on modifying bankruptcy rules to avoid mortgage foreclosures.

Congressional Summary:Amends federal bankruptcy law to exclude debts secured by the debtor's principal residence that was either sold in foreclosure or surrendered to the creditor.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. PETER WELCH (D, VT-0): Citigroup supports this bill. Why? They're a huge lender. They understand that we have to stabilize home values in order to begin the recovery, and they need a tool to accomplish it. Mortgages that have been sliced and diced into 50 different sections make it impossible even for a mortgage company and a borrower to come together to resolve the problem that they share together.

Sen. DICK DURBIN (D, IL): 8.1 million homes face foreclosure in America today. Last year, I offered this amendment to change the bankruptcy law, and the banking community said: Totally unnecessary. In fact, the estimates were of only 2 million homes in foreclosure last year. America is facing a crisis.

Opponent's argument to vote No:

Sen. JON KYL (R, AZ): This amendment would allow bankruptcy judges to modify home mortgages by lowering the principal and interest rate on the loan or extending the term of the loan. The concept in the trade is known as cram-down. It would apply to all borrowers who are 60 days or more delinquent. Many experts believe the cram-down provision would result in higher interest rates for all home mortgages. We could end up exacerbating this situation for all the people who would want to refinance or to take out loans in the future.

Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): Of the foundational policies of American exceptionalism, the concepts that have inspired our great Nation are the sanctity of private contracts and upholding the rule of law. This cramdown bill crassly undercuts both of these pillars of American exceptionalism. Why would a lender make a 30-year loan if they fear the powers of the Federal Government will violate the very terms of that loan?

Reference: Helping Families Save Their Homes Act; Bill HR1106&S896 ; vote number 2009-S185 on May 6, 2009

Voted YES on additional $825 billion for economic recovery package.

Congressional Summary:Supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): This country is facing what most economists consider to be the most serious and the most dangerous economic situation in our lifetimes. This package today is an $825 billion package that does a variety of things to try to reinflate the economy:

  1. creating or saving at least 4 million jobs
  2. rebuilding our basic infrastructure
  3. providing for job retraining for those workers who need to learn new skills
  4. moving toward energy independence
  5. improving our healthcare system so all Americans can have access to quality treatment
  6. providing tax cuts to lessen the impact of this crisis on America's working families.

Opponent's argument to vote No:

Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-51): Most of us would agree that the recent $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is an illustration of how good intentions don't always deliver desired results. When Congress spends too much too quickly, it doesn't think through the details and oversight becomes more difficult. The lesson learned from TARP was this: we cannot manage what we do not measure. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.

Sen. THAD COCHRAN (R, MS): We are giving the executive branch immense latitude in the disbursement of the spending this bill contains. We are doing so without any documentation of how this spending will stimulate the economy. Normally, this kind of information would be contained in an administration budget. For items that have a short-term stimulative effect, most of us will feel comfortable debating their merits as an emergency measure. But there is a great deal of spending that is not immediately stimulative.

Reference: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; Bill H.R.1 ; vote number 2009-S061 on Feb 10, 2009

More enforcement of mortgage fraud and TARP fraud.

Bennet signed Fight Fraud Act

Source: S.386&HR1748 2009-S386 on May 4, 2009

Other candidates on Budget & Economy: Michael Bennet on other issues:
CO Gubernatorial:
John Hickenlooper
CO Senatorial:
Amy Stephens
Ken Buck
Mark Udall
Owen Hill
Randy Baumgardner

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Retiring in 2014 election:
GA:Chambliss(R)
IA:Harkin(D)
MI:Levin(D)
MT:Baucus(D)
NE:Johanns(R)
SD:Johnson(D)
WV:Rockefeller(D)

Retired as of Jan. 2013:
AZ:Kyl(R)
CT:Lieberman(D)
HI:Akaka(D)
ME:Snowe(R)
ND:Conrad(D)
NE:Nelson(D)
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Page last updated: Dec 25, 2013