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Wisconsin Wit

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mailbag: Tammy Baldwin Writes:

Middle class Wisconsinites and working families have had a raw deal in recent years. Jobs have been shipped overseas, Wall Street banks have gambled away people’s hard-earned retirement savings, and mortgage lenders have engaged in shady practices, forcing many Americans out of their homes or close to it. What’s worse is government policies often encourage these harmful actions. The deck has been stacked for powerful interests who manipulate the system to their benefit. As your Representative, I am working hard to restore an even playing field. I’d like to share some encouraging recent news from this fight that may be of interest to you. Sincerely, Tammy Baldwin Your Member of Congress Help for Homeowners Last week, the federal government, 49 states including Wisconsin, and the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers reached a $25 billion settlement over foreclosure abuses perpetrated against America’s homeowners. While much more work remains, I believe this is a good first step toward making defrauded homeowners whole and reforming our broken mortgage system. Wisconsin will receive an estimated $140 million that will go mainly toward direct relief to affected homeowners, refinancing benefits for eligible borrowers, and remediation programs and services. I have been leading the fight in Congress to see that the victims of fraudulent bank practices be adequately compensated and that the banks be held accountable for their actions. The settlement is narrowly limited to one area of financial abuse and does not right the wrongs of the past five years. It also only involves loans serviced by the nation's five largest mortgage lenders. However, the settlement does pave the way for continued investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. [Read more on the settlement] Introducing the Buffett Rule For far too long, our tax code has unfairly benefited the wealthiest Americans, while middle class families have taken it on the chin. It's up to Congress to fix this obvious injustice. I recently introduced the Paying a Fair Share Act (H.R. 3903), also known as "the Buffett Rule," to help level the playing field between middle class taxpayers and millionaires and billionaires. The "Buffett Rule" is so-named because billionaire Warren Buffett has decried the fact that his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he pays. In 2008, the top-earning 400 Americans, who made an average $270 million each, paid the same average effective tax rate as the typical Wisconsin construction worker, using the standard deduction and exemption. The Paying a Fair Share Act would reduce the budget deficit by tens of billions of dollars by ensuring that millionaires pay at least a 30% effective tax rate. I am calling on my colleagues in the House to join me in taking this first step to strengthen our middle class and rebuild our economy with a commitment to shared responsibility and shared sacrifice. [Read more] Holding Members of Congress to the Same Standards as Everyone Else As we work to end corrupt practices and establish transparency on Wall Street, we must apply the same rules to everyone who has access to insider information, including Members of Congress. Last week I voted for, and the House passed, a long-sought measure that would ban insider trading by Members of Congress. The STOCK Act (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge – S. 2038) is bipartisan legislation that would prohibit Members of Congress and employees of Congress from profiting from non-public information they obtain via their official positions. This is a loophole we must close if we are to restore the American people’s faith in Congress and the work of democracy. [Read more] Weatherization Projects Create Wisconsin Jobs, Keep Energy Costs Down The Wisconsin Weatherization Program has helped more than 30,500 Wisconsin families save an average $400 per year on their energy utility bills while creating jobs and supporting local businesses. In Beloit, I’ve seen first-hand how energy upgrades have helped a displaced auto worker avoid financial ruin and how the funds for weatherization projects create jobs and boost sales at local businesses. I am pleased that my advocacy on behalf of Wisconsin families and businesses contributed to averting devastating cuts to the program. The Department of Energy has announced that Fiscal Year 2012 funding for the program will be maintained close to recent levels rather than be cut approximately 60 percent, as sought by House Republicans. I made a strong case to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu why the Wisconsin Weatherization Program should be maintained and am delighted that the Secretary agreed with my recommendation. [Read more] For more information on my work in Congress, visit TammyBaldwin.House.Gov Share this on:

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