Economic Growth and Fiscal Responsibility
John, along with his House Democratic colleagues from 2008 - 2010, has led an unprecedented effort to prevent a devastating recession from turning into a depression, while restoring the fiscal policies of the 1990s that were responsible for the longest period of post-war economic growth on record.
It is important to note that upon taking office in 2001, President Bush inherited a projected $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years. ten years later – reckless tax cuts targeted to favored interests funded by debt; two wars funded outside the budget process; a Medicare prescription drug entitlement that left many seniors uncovered; and a distasteful emergency financial rescue package required to prevent the banking system’s total collapse – President Obama entered office facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, a national cumulative debt of $11.5 Trillion and an annual budget deficit of $1.3 trillion.
In that climate, where businesses were no longer spending, states and local communities were unable to maintain budgets and families were strapped as people lost jobs or feared losing them, Congressman Tierney voted in favor of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to jumpstart the economy, to create and save 3.5 million jobs and to provide 95% of American workers with a tax cut. Three years later, economists of every stripe are unanimous in their view that the Recovery Act is responsible for the economy’s current expansion and projected growth.
The results of the Recovery Act are already being felt, including an estimated 2.2 to 2.8 million new jobs saved and created. While the economy contracted 6.4% and Americans were facing nearly 800,000 jobs lost each month under President Bush, we have seen a resurgence of economic growth to 5.9% at the end of 2009, followed by 3.2% in the first quarter of 2010. Since January 2010 495,000 manufacturing jobs have been created.
In 2009, Congressman Tierney voted to cut the annual budget deficit by two-thirds within four years. Further, in order to force a serious examination of efforts to eliminate wasteful subsidies and tax loopholes, require tax cuts to be paid for and ensure funding for our important priorities consistently for future generations, Congressman Tierney voted to restore the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) requirement. PAYGO, which helped turn deficits into surpluses during the Clinton Administration, requires that all new policies reducing revenues or expanding entitlement spending be offset (or "paid for") over five and ten years.
Breaking up the Banks and Protecting Consumers
John Tierney has been an independent leader in the fight to expose the runaway culture of special interest greed and reckless behavior that caused the financial crisis. He has consistently worked to protect consumers and working families by voting to break up too big to fail corporate banks and reining in Wall Street.
When President Bush's Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson sought $700 billion for the original financial industry emergency rescue package, John was a part of the bi-partisan majority that rejected that three page give-away and forced a subsequent bill that held back a significant portion of the rescue funds unless or until absolutely needed and approved by a later Congress, demanded collateral, dividends and interest on the advancements and placed restrictions on executive compensation so long as taxpayer money was used to stop an international financial industry implosion. As a senior Member of the House Oversight Committee, John demanded investigations into the payments made to insurer AIG at the direction of the Federal Reserve and Treasury and the excessive salaries of Wall Street executives whose mismanagement hurt so many hardworking Americans and their families.
As one of only 57 Members who voted against the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act, John offered an amendment to the financial regulatory reform bill to safeguard consumers’ hard-earned savings from the reckless Wall Street casino culture by separating consumer banking from speculative commercial trading. John voted for Wall Street reform measures that will protect consumers from the reckless behavior of Wall Street executives.
Additionally, to protect Massachusetts families from the unscrupulous and deceptive practices of those offering complicated financial products, John has been a vocal supporter of reform of the financial industry - and supported the House legislation already passed on this subject, including creating a strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
Fighting Predatory Lending in the Credit Card Industry
As the economic crisis has forced many families to rely on credit cards to save their homes and to pay for unforeseen expenses, Congressman Tierney has fought hard to protect consumers against credit card companies’ predatory lending practices. Most notably, Congressman Tierney co-sponsored and fought for the passage of the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights (H.R. 627). This landmark legislation, which Congress passed and President Obama signed into law, curbs unfair, deceptive and anti-competitive practices by credit card companies and puts an end to retroactive rate hikes on existing balances, double-cycle billing and other due date gimmicks.
While this legislation takes essential steps to enhance protections for consumers against predatory lending practices, John remains committed to further strengthening usury law. To this end, he has introduced legislation, Restoring America’s Commitment to Consumers Act (H.R. 4300) which would end hidden fees and cap interest rates. Congressman Tierney will continue to work with like-minded colleagues towards improving lending practices for consumers in the future.