As recovery efforts continue, Claire knows that Missourians across the state are worried about jobs, pensions and the rising costs of living. Missouri has lost far too many good-paying jobs as a result of the economic crisis, and Claire is working to stabilize the economy, provide relief for working families and pave the way for economic growth. For instance, she has fought for the first increase in the minimum wage in 10 years, increased lending for small businesses and supported legislation that will help initiate investments in science research and education to keep our economy competitive in the future.
Economic Recovery Efforts
In the face of the most severe economic crisis in decades, Claire reluctantly supported emergency measures to bring the economy back from the brink of collapse. In February 2009, Claire supported passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). While the stimulus package was not perfect, it included critical tax cuts and investments in areas such as infrastructure and health care that created and saved jobs and helped spur recovery. (For more information on how the stimulus can work for your Missouri-based organization or an easy reference to stimulus money coming to a Missouri community near you, click here.)
Simultaneously, as a former prosecutor and auditor, Claire has been adamant about ensuring oversight and accountability when it comes to putting taxpayer money on the line. She won passage into law a bill to strengthen the power of the Special Inspector General overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the program that served to keep America’s system of banking from collapsing. During congressional consideration of the stimulus package, Claire worked to make sure that federal agencies would be focused on preventing waste, fraud, and abuse, winning additional funds for inspectors general offices to oversee stimulus spending, as well as inclusion of expansive protections for whistleblowers at entities receiving stimulus funds. She also worked hard to ensure that the government reported how it was spending stimulus money in an open and honest way by promoting a robust website tracking stimulus spending. Claire believes we need to remain vigilant, but is pleased about the resources the federal government has dedicated to oversight. (For more information, click here.)
When it came to light that Wall Street executives had not learned the lessons of this economic crisis and were doling out enormous bonus packages despite their reliance on government money, Claire went to work applying common sense Missouri values again. She introduced an amendment to limit the compensation of executives at banks receiving taxpayer funds under the TARP program, giving those executives every incentive to pay back the taxpayers and keeping them from getting huge paychecks after leading their companies into disarray. In Missouri, you get what you earn. Claire thinks the same thing should apply on Wall Street; failure shouldn’t still lead to huge paychecks for CEOs who need taxpayer funds just to keep their businesses afloat.
Tax Relief for Missourians
Claire believes our tax policy should be fair and simple and aimed at helping average Missourians, not special interests. She supports reform of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), the extension of the child tax credit and providing targeted veterans and military tax benefits. Claire has voted repeatedly to extend such benefits.
Claire also supported the $287 billion of tax relief in the ARRA, including the Making Work Pay Credit, which increased the take-home pay of 95 percent of working Americans by $10 to $15 per paycheck in 2009. (Making Work Pay is a $400 credit for 2009 that offsets most of the payroll taxes that are withheld from paychecks. Those who are married, but file jointly, and those that have more than one job may want to double check to ensure that their withholding is correct. For more information, go to the IRS website.)
Missourians lost $6 billion in housing wealth because of the mortgage crisis. Claire is working to help families access the tools they need to make smart housing decisions, and stay out of foreclosure, a threat facing too many Missourians. Claire has organized five foreclosure clinics across Missouri. These clinics have brought together representatives from banks, credit counselors and community organizations to provide homeowners with information and answers to questions on their financial options to avoid losing their home, what to do after foreclosure, how to avoid predatory lenders in the future and the right way to purchase a home amid the subprime mortgage crisis.
They've also guided Claire's work in Washington, D.C. where she is supporting efforts to stabilize the housing market and prevent foreclosures. She is encouraged by new initiatives like the Making Home Affordable program that are designed to help responsible homeowners refinance or modify their loans to achieve more affordable terms. (For more information about the program, go to the Making Home Affordable website.) Claire also supported the $8,000 First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit, which was included in the ARRA, and sponsored a bill to extend the tax credit for one year to active duty military members stationed overseas who were not able to take advantage of it. For more information about the First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit, click here.
Support for Small Businesses
Small businesses are the engine of our economy, representing more than 99 percent of all employers, creating half of our gross domestic product and creating up to 80 percent of the new jobs nationwide. Claire supports efforts to increase small business access to government contracts and capital, as well as address the health and fuel cost crunches small businesses face. She has supported measures to increase lending to small businesses and has held Economic Development Seminars throughout the state to help small businesses, local governments and non-profit organizations take advantage of resources that can help them bring jobs to their communities.
Claire supports investing in renewable energy, which offers perhaps the greatest potential for economic growth and new jobs, in addition to reducing our dependence on foreign oil. In 2006, renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies generated 8.5 million new jobs and nearly $970 billion in industry revenue. Claire has supported tax and other incentives to spur investment in renewable energy technology and create "green jobs" that will expand our economy and move our country toward energy independence.
Rural America's Economy
Claire believes that we cannot leave rural areas behind as we work to grow the economy and create jobs. She has been pushing to increase access to broadband internet service in rural areas, which can allow those areas to participate in high tech industries. She supported the 2008 Farm Bill, part of which reauthorized the Rural Business Investment Program, created a program to assist individuals in rural areas start their own businesses, and will help improve rural infrastructure.
For more information:
On economic development in Missouri, go to http://www.ded.mo.gov/
On small businesses, go to http://www.sba.gov
On your business, go to http://www.irs.gov/businesses/index.html
On recovery efforts, go to http://www.recovery.gov
On the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, go to http://www.sigtarp.gov/
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