Congressional Recess Talking Points

Starting on March 22nd Members of the both the House and Senate will leave Washington, DC to enjoy a two week recess in their home districts and states. This is an excellent time to catch up with your federal legislator and let them know your concerns and ask them some tough hitting questions. With Members of Congress spending an increasing amount of time in Washington face to face opportunities are few and far between. Whether by attending a townhall meetings or scheduling an office visit, the time is now to make your voice heard.

Following are key issues for CSE in the upcoming months. Please review the summaries and consider asking the attached questions when you meet with your legislator.

Tax and Budget

Summary: As the politicians debate the annual budget resolution, they need to remember that despite the devastating effects of September 11, Americans remain committed to fiscal discipline. In an effort to further their own political aims, many Members of Congress use this process as an opportunity to push unnecessary, pork barrel projects. Further, some members of Congress, such as Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), want to pay for their bigger spending appetites by increasing Americans’ tax burden. He has already called for repealing portions of the tax cuts that President Bush signed into law last June; we cannot let this tax increase happen. Members of Congress need to know that they cannot get away with spending billions of dollars of your hard earned dollars on more unnecessary government programs and raising taxes on Americans.

Sample Questions for Legislators:

Do you support a balanced budget through the imposition of spending restraints or by taking back our hard-earned tax relief?

How will you work in Congress to reduce the rampant amount of waste, fraud and abuse?

Do you support the use of Congressional earmarks?

Extending the Bush Tax Cuts
Due to arcane Senate budget rules, the 2001 Bush tax package included a sunset provision. That means that the benefits enjoyed by the bill; elimination of the death tax, reductions in marginal tax rates and reductions in the marriage penalty, will be repealed after 9 years. The elimination of these tax provisions prohibit our country from enjoying the full benefits of the Bush tax cut and would amount to a tax increase. The American people deserve this minimal amount of tax relief and we cannot let it be eliminated. Legislation to make these tax cuts permanent is pending in both the House and the Senate.

Sample Questions for Legislators:

If it comes to the floor, will you support legislation to make the Bush tax cut permanent?

Will you sign on to legislation as a co-sponsor to make these tax cuts permanent?

Social Security

Summary: The Social Security Trust Fund will begin running huge cash shortfalls in just 15 years. The Social Security Administration predicts the system will be broke by 2038 unless reforms are made. Social Security has become a bad deal for younger Americans. Today, most young workers are likely to get less back in retirement benefits than they paid into the system. We believe workers should be allowed to divert a portion of their payroll taxes into Personal Retirement Accounts that they – not bureaucrats and politicians – own and control. Unfortunately, the Democrats and liberal watchdog groups are selling a false bill of goods. They claim that reform is unnecessary and are merely content to sit on the sidelines instead of participating in the debate. We need to get members of Congress to enter into this debate and to support the creation of personal retirement accounts to save Social Security.

Sample Questions for Legislators:

Do you support the creation of personal retirement accounts to ensure that Social Security will be solvent for decades to come?

What is your plan for saving Social Security?

What will you do to jump-start the debate on the need for Social Security reform?

Judicial Issues:

Summary: With our nation our at war and threat of another terrorist attack at home very real, the importance of the institutions of government responsible for administering justice cannot be overstated. Unfortunately for Americans, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Senator Patrick Leahy (D- Vt.) are stonewalling President Bush’s judicial nominations. Both Democratic Senators are blocking President Bush’s nominees from even participating in a committee hearing or a vote on the Senate floor. Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department has been devoting its own scarce resources towards a baseless racketeering case against the tobacco industry instead of protecting and defending Americans from future terrorist attacks. Americans deserve a Justice Department that devotes its full attention towards protecting Americans in a constitutionally meticulous way, instead of pursuing frivolous lawsuits against law-abiding businesses.

Sample Questions for Legislators:

For Senators: Will you fight to allow President Bush’s judicial nominations a vote on the Senate floor?

Do you support an ideological litmus test for nominees?

What can you do to allow the Department of Justice to focus on the war instead of spending valuable resources pursuing frivolous and time-consuming lawsuits like those lodged against Microsoft or the tobacco industry?