Areas of Interest
While the Nevada economy continues to recover from the recession, families across the state continue to face challenges in the job and housing markets. I hear from these families every day, strengthening my resolve to do all I can to help put Nevadans back to work. Policies enacted by Congress and the Obama Administration over the past few years have helped improve our economy, create jobs, and improve the housing market. But more still needs to be done, and I will continue to work to help put Nevadans back to work and provide relief to middle class families and small businesses.
Despite the improving unemployment rate, creating and saving jobs has been my primary focus since the United States fell into the Great Recession in December 2007. In the 112th Congress, I led the Senate in passing two bills that helped improve our nation’s transportation infrastructure and will save or create millions of jobs.
In February 2012, Congress passed legislation reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, including a long overdue modernization of our nation’s aviation system. This long-term compromise, which President Obama signed into law on February 14, 2012, will create or save more than 280,000 jobs while bringing our nation’s air-travel infrastructure into the 21st Century by finally transitioning many air traffic control systems from World War II-era technology to cutting-edge, GPS navigation.
In June 2012, I was instrumental in breaking a logjam that allowed Congress to pass the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) surface transportation reauthorization bill. Thanks to this important legislation, which is now law, we are able to start rebuilding our transportation system and put nearly 3 million Americans back to work. For more information on the benefits of these laws for Nevada, please visit the Transportation page on my website.
Putting more money in the hands of middle class families has also been an important component of our efforts to revitalize our economy. The payroll tax holiday, originally implemented in 2011, was enacted to offer temporary relief to Americans and provide a boost to the economy. In response to a looming tax increase for 160 million Americans, I led Congress to support a compromise to extend the temporary payroll tax cuts through the end of 2012. The temporary two percentage point reduction in the payroll tax paid by all workers, helped boost the take-home pay of the typical Nevada family by $1,000 and helped families as the economy was recovering. While the tax holiday expired at the end of 2012, I will continue to look for ways to help Nevada families.
A key component in my efforts to revitalize Nevada’s economy is to help ensure tax relief for middle-class families. I have always supported policies that ease the burden for working families in Nevada. And as our economy continues to recover from the recession, it is imperative that we enact tax relief for hard-working families and encourage job creation, saving, and investment. In the final weeks of the 112th Congress, I was proud to lead the Senate in passing a plan to continue tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and ensure that middle-class Nevadans and families across the country did not face an income tax increase in 2013. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), which President Obama signed into law on January 2, 2013, permanently extended the middle-class tax cuts, and encouraged a fairer tax code by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay slightly more in taxes. The legislation also extended key middle-class tax provisions such deductions for state and local taxes, qualified tuition and school-related expenses, mortgage insurance premiums as qualified interest, and qualified expenses for teachers. I am pleased this legislation will continue to help grow the economy. We must address these issues again this year, and I will work to do so in a timely manner. American families cannot afford to wait until the last moment to find out what their bottom line will look like next year. They are sitting around the kitchen table today figuring out whether they can afford to buy their first home, send their kids to college, or retire, and Congress must create the certainty necessary for families and businesses.
For more information on my tax relief efforts to help Nevada’s economy, please click here.
Unemployment compensation not only helps those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, it also helps our economy because recipients spend the cash they receive on the things they need right away. This is why I have fought several times since 2009 to provide Nevadans with extended unemployment benefits. The Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act and later the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act extended federal unemployment benefits through the end of 2012.
In 2011, Congress enacted the Budget Control Act, which included “sequestration” – substantial, across-the-board cuts to both defense and non-defense spending. Unfortunately, those still suffering from the economic downturn have been hit particularly hard by these cuts. In September 2013, tens of thousands of Nevadans relying on federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) saw their benefits slashed by almost 60 percent as a result of sequestration. This is the wrong thing to do as our economy continues to recover from the recession. Although these cuts will be alleviated to some extent starting in October 2013, funding will remain well below pre-sequestration levels until Congress acts. I will continue urging my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to replace sequestration with fair and balanced cuts to our deficit.
I know that getting Nevadans back to work is the most important thing we can do to get our economy back on track, and while we have made progress in turning our economy around, there is still much more to be done. You can be assured that I will continue to fight to pass legislation that spurs job creation.
Nevada’s housing market was among the hardest hit in the nation. While many challenges remain the market has improved dramatically, thanks in part to federal initiatives, including the Home Affordable Refinance Program, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. I have worked with President Obama and other lawmakers to see that these programs are responsive to Nevada’s needs and to secure program funding for our state.
I remain focused on helping stabilize the housing market and am committed to helping Nevada families protect the American Dream of homeownership.
For more information on my work to help homeowners in Nevada, click here.
I am proud to have led the fight to pass a landmark Wall Street reform bill to curb abuses that led to our nation’s economic storm. Despite months of Republican opposition, I stood on the side of Main Street and fought to put consumers first, rein in reckless gambling that led to the worst financial crisis in a generation, and end taxpayer funded bailouts of banks that had become too big to fail. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ensured that taxpayers will never be asked to write a check to bail out financial firms that threaten the economy and eliminated loopholes that allowed risky and abusive practices to go on unnoticed and unregulated. The bill also created a council to identify and address systemic risks posed by large, complex companies, products, and activities before they threaten the stability of the economy. And it established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an independent watchdog housed at the Federal Reserve, with the authority to ensure American consumers get the clear, accurate information they need to shop for mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products, and protect them from hidden fees, abusive terms, and deceptive practices.
In 2009, I was proud to sponsor and pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), which created and saved jobs during the Great Recession and helped spark the beginning of an economic recovery. Since being signed into law, the Recovery Act has provided $803.1 billion in federal funding to offset the decrease in private-sector spending, state budget cuts, and avoid complete economic deterioration. The Recovery Act has generated over $3 billion in grants, loans, and entitlements for Nevada, and has created or saved over tens of thousands of jobs. These funds helped keep teachers in our classrooms, police on our streets, and supported job-creating road project throughout the state.
For more information on the Recovery Act, please click here.