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Vernon Ehlers on Budget & Economy

Republican Representative (MI-3)


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-H659 on Jul 29, 2009

Voted NO 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-H046 on Jan 28, 2009

Voted YES on monitoring TARP funds to ensure more mortgage relief.

Congressional Summary:Requires specified depository institutions under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to report periodically on their use of TARP assistance. Requires federal banking regulatory agencies to examine annually the use of TARP funds made by the deposit institutions.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. BARNEY FRANK (D, MA-4): Last year, after we responded to the urgent pleas of the Bush administration to authorize the $700 billion deployment of Federal funds to unstick the credit markets, many of us became very unhappy, [because Bush] repudiated commitments to use a significant part of the fund to diminish foreclosures. If we do not pass this bill today, we will make no progress in what is the single biggest economic problem we've been facing, namely, the foreclosure crisis.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. RON PAUL (R, TX-14): There has been a lot of money spent to try to bail out the financial industry, and nothing seems to be working. I think it's mainly because we haven't admitted that excessive spending can cause financial problems, & excessive debt and inflation can cause problems.

Actually, the recession is therapy for all of the mistakes, but the mistakes come, basically, from a Federal Reserve system that's causing too many people to make mistakes. Interest rates are lower than they should be, so they don't save. That contributes to what we call "moral hazard" as well as the system of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac system. With the assumption that we're all going to be bailed out, people say, "Well, no sweat because, if there is a mistake, the government will come to our rescue." A private FDIC would never permit this massive malinvestment. There would be regulations done in the marketplace, and there would not be this distortion that we've ended up with.

Reference: TARP Reform and Accountability Act; Bill H.R.384 ; vote number 2009-H026 on Jan 21, 2009

Voted YES on $15B bailout for GM and Chrysler.

Congressional Summary:

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. BARNEY FRANK (D, MA-4): This economy is in the worst shape that it has been in since the Great Depression. This Congress voted 2 months ago to advance $25 billion to the auto industry to promote innovation. This $15 billion is an additional "bridge loan."

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. SPENCER BACHUS (R, AL-6): We all understand that the bankruptcy of either GM or Chrysler would have a cascading effect on other manufacturers. But I cannot support this plan because it spends taxpayer money without any real promise to return the industry to profitability. I see several glaring flaws. We are creating a new car czar to manage these companies from Washington; not a CEO, but a car czar. Second, this legislation actually imposes new and expensive mandates on our automobile companies. Third, this legislation imposes Federal Government management on the Big Three, the wisdom of Washington. It is clear that the management of these companies have made mistakes, many mistakes, but to set up a command and control Federal bureaucrat is exactly the wrong solution.

Rep. RON PAUL (R, TX-14): The problems that we are facing today date back to 1971. But we don't seem to want to go back and find out how financial bubbles form and why they burst. Instead, we just carry on doing the same old thing and never look back. We spend more money, we run up more debt, we print more money, and we think that is going to solve the problem that was created by spending too much money, running up debt, printing too much money. Today, we are talking about tinkering on the edges without dealing with the big problem.

Reference: Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act; Bill HR.7321 ; vote number 2008-H690 on Dec 10, 2008

Voted NO on $60B stimulus package for jobs, infrastructure, & energy.

Congressional Summary:
    Supplemental appropriations for:
  1. Infrastructure Investments: Transportation: DOT, FAA, AMTRAK, and FTA
  2. Clean Water (EPA)
  3. Flood Control and Water Resources (ACE)
  4. 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities (ED)
  5. Energy Development (DOE)
  6. Extension of Unemployment Compensation and Job Training
  7. Temporary Increase in Medicaid Matching Rate
  8. Temporary Increase in Food Assistance

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): Congress has tried to do a number of things that would alleviate the squeeze on the middle class. Meanwhile, this economy is sagging. Jobs, income, sales, and industrial production have all gone down. We have lost 600,000 jobs. We are trying to provide a major increase in investments to modernize our infrastructure and to provide well-paying construction jobs at the same time.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-41): Just 2 days ago we were debating an $800 billion continuing resolution. Now in addition to being asked to pay for a bailout for Wall Street, taxpayers are being asked to swallow an additional $60 billion on a laundry list of items I saw for the first time just a few hours ago. The Democratic majority is describing this legislation as a "stimulus package" to help our national economy. But let's not fool ourselves. This is a political document pure and simple. If these priorities are so important, why hasn't this bill gone through the normal legislative process? We should have debated each of the items included in this package.

It doesn't take an economist to tell you that the economy needs our help. But what does this Congress do? It proposes to spend billions more without any offsets in spending. The failure to adhere to PAYGO means that this new spending will be financed through additional borrowing, which will prove a further drag on our struggling economy.

Reference: Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act; Bill S.3604&HR7110 ; vote number 2008-H660 on Sep 26, 2008

Voted NO on defining "energy emergency" on federal gas prices.

Congressional Summary:

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. WATERS: This bill preserves public housing. The administration eliminated the one-for-one replacement requirement in 1996, effectively triggering a national sloughing off of our Nation's public housing inventory. Housing authorities have consistently built back fewer units than they have torn down and, as a result, over 30,000 units have been lost. I urge you to support our Nation's low-income families and to preserve our housing stock.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. HENSARLING: President Reagan once said that the nearest thing to eternal life on Earth is a Federal program, and I don't think there is any better case study than perhaps the HOPE VI program. If there was ever a program that cried out for termination, it's this one.

This program began in 1992 with a very noble purpose of taking 86,000 units of severely distressed public housing and replacing them, demolishing them. Well, it achieved its mission. But somewhere along the line we had this thing in Washington known as mission creep.

We already have 80-plus Federal housing programs, and the budget for Federal housing programs has almost doubled in the last 10 years, from $15.4 billion to more than $30 billion now. So it's very hard to argue that somehow Federal housing programs have been shortchanged.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed House, 271-130

Reference: HOPE VI Improvement and Reauthorization Act; Bill H.R.3524 ; vote number 08-HR3524 on Jan 17, 2008

Voted YES on regulating the subprime mortgage industry.

H.R.3915: To reform consumer mortgage practices and provide accountability for such practices, to establish licensing and registration requirements for residential mortgage originators. Prohibits certain creditor practices with respect to high-cost mortgages, including:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. FRANK: This legislation seeks to prevent a repetition of events that caused one of the most serious financial crises in recent times. We have a worldwide problem economically, with a terrible shortage of credit. Innovations in the mortgage industry, in themselves good and useful, but conducted in such a completely unregulated manner as to have led to this crisis. The fundamental principle of the bill is not to put remedies into place, but to stop future problems from occurring in the first place. We have had two groups of mortgage originators: banks subject to the regulation of the bank regulators; and then mortgage loans made by brokers who were subject to no regulation. The secondary market has been on the whole useful but, having been unregulated, has caused some problems.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. HENSARLING: This is a bad bill for homeowners in America. There is no doubt that this Nation faces a great challenge in the subprime market, but this piece of legislation is going to make the situation worse. Clearly, there has to be enforcement against fraud in the subprime market. But what Congress should not do is essentially outlaw the American Dream for many struggling families who may be of low income, who may have checkered credit pasts, for whom a subprime mortgage is the only means to purchase a home.

Reference: Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act; Bill HR3915 ; vote number 2007-1118 on Nov 15, 2007

Voted YES on restricting bankruptcy rules.

Vote to pass the bill that would require debtors who are able to pay back $10,000 or 25 percent of their debts over five years to file under Chapter 13, rather then seeking to discharge their debts under Chapter 7. Chapter 13, calls for a reorganization of debts under a repayment plan. A Debtor would be restricted, in this bill, to a total exemption of $125,000 in home equity for residences bought within 40 months of a bankruptcy filing. The bill also would establish permanent and retroactive Chapter 12 bankruptcy relief for farmers.
Reference: Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act; Bill S 1920 ; vote number 2004-10 on Jan 28, 2004

Supports balanced budget amendment & line item veto.

Ehlers signed the Contract with America:

[As part of the Contract with America, within 100 days we pledge to bring to the House Floor the following bill]:

The Fiscal Responsibility Act:
A balanced budget/tax limitation amendment and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out-of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses.
Source: Contract with America 93-CWA3 on Sep 27, 1994

Maintain & enforce existing spending caps in the future.

Ehlers adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership issue stance:

What we offer today are not the precise spending decisions of a given year's budget; rather, we call upon the Congress and the nation to adopt the following guidelines for our fiscal policy over the next decade. This long-term blueprint is essential for maintaining both the immediate public-sector goal of balancing the budget and the private-sector goal of a healthy economy. This can be achieved through the following steps:

Source: Republican Main St. Partnership Issue Paper: Fiscal Policy 98-RMSP5 on Sep 9, 1998

2010 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Budget & Economy: Vernon Ehlers on other issues:
MI Gubernatorial:
Jennifer Granholm
MI Senatorial:
Carl Levin
Debbie Stabenow

Special elections
in 111th Congress:


GA-9:Deal(R)
Jun.2010:Graves(R)

PA-12:Murtha(D)
May 2010:Critz(D)

HI-1:Abercrombie(D)
May 2010:Djou(R)

FL-19:Wexler(D)
Apr.2010:Deutch(D)

CA-10:Tauscher(D)
Nov.2009:Garamendi(D)

NY-20:McHugh(R)
Nov.2009:Owens(D)

CA-32:Solis(D)
Jul.2009:Chu(D)

IL-5:Emanuel(D)
Apr.2009:Quigley(D)

NY-20:Gillibrand(D)
Mar.2009:Murphy(D)


Senate races in 2010:
AK:Miller(R) vs.McAdams(D)
AL:Shelby(R) vs.Barnes(D)
AR:Lincoln(D) vs.Boozman(R)
AZ:McCain(R) vs.Glassman(D)
CA:Boxer(D) vs.Fiorina(R) vs.Lightfoot(L)
CO:Bennet(D) vs.Buck(R)
CT:Blumenthal(D) vs.McMahon(R)
DE:Coons(D) vs.Castle(R) vs.O`Donnell(R)
FL:Rubio(R) vs.Crist(I) vs.Meek(D) vs.DeCastro(C) vs.Snitker(L) vs.Bradley(V)
GA:Isakson(R) vs.Thurmond(D)
HI:Inouye(D) vs.Cavasso(R)
IA:Grassley(R) vs.Conlin(D)
ID:Crapo(R) vs.Sullivan(D)
IL:Giannoulias(D) vs.Kirk(R)
IN:Ellsworth(D) vs.Coats(R)
KS:Johnston(D) vs.Moran(R)
KY:Conway(D) vs.Paul(R)
LA:Vitter(R) vs.Melancon(D)
MO:Carnahan(R) vs.Blunt(D)
MD:Mikulski(D) vs.Wargotz(R)
NC:Burr(R) vs.Marshall(D)
ND:Potter(D) vs.Hoeven(R)
NH:Alciere(R) vs.Ayotte(R) vs.Hodes(D)
NV:Reid(D) vs.Angle(R)
NY6:Schumer(D) vs.Townsend(R)
NY2:Gillibrand(D) vs.DioGuardi(R)
OH:Fisher(R) vs.Portman(D) vs.Deaton(C)
OK:Coburn(R) vs.Myles(D)
OR:Wyden(D) vs.Huffman(R)
PA:Toomey(R) vs.Sestak(D)
SC:DeMint(R) vs.Greene(D)
SD:Thune(R) vs.Berry(D)
UT:Lee(R) vs.Granato(D)
VT:Leahy(D) vs.Freilich(D)
WA:Murray(D) vs.Rossi(R)
WI:Feingold(D) vs.Johnson(D)
WV:Manchin(D) vs.Raese(R)
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