I admit I felt a very slight pang of guilt when I sent that letter to my congressmen proposing sending me stimulus money to invest in my terrible bar idea. That’s because the letter would never actually get to the politicians. I knew it was going to be some poor overworked aide who’d have to read my letter, figure out if I’m being earnest or not, and send me a reply. I didn’t feel too guilty, obviously, because if you sign up to work in Congress I figure you deserve all the BS that gets thrown at you. But still, some of them are genuinely nice people, despite what one might conclude after to going to a few happy hours on Capitol Hill.
One of those nice people was visiting Portland this weekend, so I asked her what she’d do if she’d received my letter. She said she’d get annoyed at having to waste time on me and fire off some boilerplate jibber jabber about the stimulus bill. Whoever works in Representative Earl Blumenauer’s office thinks the same way and replied to me this morning. On the off chance you want to read through the whole thing (not recommended), it’s below the break.
Dear Mr. Grier,
Thank you for writing to me regarding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. While this legislation is not perfect, it marks a strong response to the economic challenges faced by Oregon’s hard-working families and it deserves support. In particular, I would like to highlight several key elements of the legislation.
w This legislation will create 3.5 million jobs and will give 95 percent of American workers an immediate tax cut. The bill also offers significant tax relief to homebuyers, manufacturers, and small businesses.
w It provides a significant extension of unemployment benefits, aid to Oregon to modernize our unemployment system and expand its coverage, and helps unemployed workers maintain their healthcare coverage.
w This legislation puts a down payment on a much-needed investment in roads, bridges, mass transit, energy efficient buildings, flood control, clean water projects, and other infrastructure projects. These efforts will begin rebuilding and renewing America.
w The legislation invests in health information technology to modernize our health care system and improve health outcomes. This investment will put people to work and will create a more efficient, effective health care system with fewer deaths, fewer complications, and lower health care costs.
w Oregon will receive nearly $700 million in education funding, providing substantial support for Head Start programs and school districts throughout the state, including millions of dollars in support of special needs students. It also increases funding for Pell grants to help college students and their families
w The economic recovery package also represents a leap forward for the nation’s clean energy economy. It includes about $37.5 billion in funding for energy programs, almost double the Energy Department’s typical entire annual budget, and more than 10 times the amount normally spent on conservation and renewable energy. It also includes about $20 billion in tax incentives for energy efficiency and renewable programs, which I helped design as a member of the Ways and Means Committee.
Oregon is known for the progress that we have made developing a new energy future and for the innovative ways that we approach healthcare, sustainability, and transportation. This legislation will buttress those endeavors, while creating jobs and easing the economic impacts on those already hard hit. While I continue to have concerns about certain elements of the legislation, I feel strongly that we must seize this opportunity to create jobs and invest in our communities, while continuing to transform our economy for the challenges of the twenty-first century.
Member of Congress