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Yarmuth Issues Open Letter on Recovery Bill

Dear Friends,

Today, I made one of my most difficult decisions since being elected to serve Kentucky’s Third Congressional District.  I was faced with two awful choices: voting for a bill that I hate or doing nothing to stop an economic meltdown that would lead to massive job loss in Louisville and throughout the country.  I am angry that this is the only option we were given.  However, I voted for it in order to stave off economic catastrophe—not for CEO’s on Wall Street about whom I could not care less, but for the people of our streets in Louisville.

There were significant improvements to this version of the bill to ensure that it protected taxpayers and was not a blank check for Wall Street.  It authorizes only half the $700 billion requested, limits CEO compensation, and eliminates golden parachutes.  The bill approved today increases accountability, provides a tax cut to millions of middle class Americans with a patch of the alternative minimum tax, extends the child tax credit and property tax credits, offers tuition assistance, invests in renewable fuel, and helps small businesses by offering FDIC insurance on deposits up to $250,000.

Still, it infuriates me that this bill is unfair to the people who played by the rules, paid their bills and taxes on time, and took out mortgages they could afford.  But what would have been even more unfair is if no action had been taken today, and those same hard working people lost their jobs, houses, and savings.  That is the dilemma that we faced today, and I chose to take action.

I have spoken with many Louisville business owners, and across the board, they told me if action was not taken immediately they would be forced to cut jobs-- a lot of jobs, and many felt they would have to close their doors for good.  This would come on the heels of more than three-quarters of a million lost jobs in America so far this year.  At Ford, Louisville’s second biggest employer, sales were down more than a third last month.  Resolving the credit crunch is critical for Ford to rebound and fulfill their plans to expand and keep jobs in Louisville.   

Other examples can be found with the homebuilders who are having trouble getting bonds and homeowners with no access to loans; both of which are crucial to restoring our housing market.  Failure to act immediately would cause widespread foreclosures that would devalue all our homes, a credit freeze that would devastate the middle class and working families, and the loss of pensions and savings for many seniors and others about to retire. 

For weeks, I have urged Congressional Leadership to devise an alternative, and for weeks they have said there was not enough time.  I am dismayed by their failure to lead on this point.  Yet, with all that is at stake for our community and country, I felt it would have been irresponsible not to act.  As much as I hate this bill, the alternative—doing nothing—would have been far worse for working families and retirees in Louisville.

I know this decision will make a lot of people unhappy, and I don’t blame them.  This unprecedented step is intended to fend off unprecedented devastation, and put simply, I could not sit back and let that happen to the community or country I love.

This is not the end of our economic turmoil.  While the bill may avert immediate catastrophe, we still have a lot of work to do.  I pledge to continue to put the working people of Louisville first, and to put an end to the deregulation that got us to this point of national emergency.


John Yarmuth
Member of Congress


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