AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks on American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Tax Benefits
Thank you all for coming out today. And thanks especially to Pastor Patrick and his wife Luisa Cabello Hansel for hosting us in their beautiful home.
Mayor Rybak, it’s a pleasure to be in Minneapolis, this great city of yours—just a short distance, President Lantry, from St. Paul, the wonderful city that you serve as president of the city council.
As a baseball fan, I would be remiss if I didn’t note the great news Minnesotans heard over the weekend—Joe Mauer signed to a long-term deal.
As a big Seattle Mariners fan, I wouldn’t mind seeing him over in the National League but think it’s great that Joe will play in his hometown—and in a new outdoor stadium—for a long time.
Now, before we get started with the discussion, I’d like to address the tremendous development we saw in the House of Representatives over the weekend.
We have finally won a hard-fought battle to pass comprehensive health care legislation that brings down health care costs, expands coverage to millions of Americans and ends the worst practices of insurance companies. And it begins to do so this year.
This legislation is a victory for American families, for seniors, for workers and small businesses—for Americans who deserve the security of knowing that in this country, neither illness nor accident should endanger the American dream.
In short, it is a quantum leap forward for the American people and for the American economy.
And on the heels of this achievement, it is great to be here in Minnesota to talk about another forward-looking set of policies that's helping middle-class families achieve more security and helping to get our economy growing again.
I know that people are frustrated that the economy is not turning around quicker.
And I can assure you that despite improving economic indicators, this administration will not consider it a complete recovery until every American who wants a job can find one.
But as we continue to work ahead, it is important to be mindful of where we have come from.
Early last year, we were on the precipice of a second depression, with banks failing and the economy losing 700,000 jobs a month.
But thanks to the difficult and sometimes unpopular steps the administration took to stabilize financial and housing markets and stimulate our economy, we have returned from the brink.
One of those steps was the passage of the Recovery Act, which distributed badly needed relief in almost equal thirds of:
- tax relief;
- aid to states; and
- infrastructure projects.
For Minnesota, it meant:
- two million families have received $1.1 billion in tax relief under the making work pay tax credit.
- The funding of over 250 transportation projects valued at $634 million; and
- for homeowners like the Hansels, it meant a chance to help buy their first home.
Over 13,000 Minnesota families have taken advantage of the first time home buyer credit, which provides up to $8,000 upon the purchase of a home.
Thousands more, including Shannon (local guest) have taken advantage of tax credits that award up to $1,500 to offset the cost of home efficiency improvements like insulation; and the installation of things like superefficient HVAC systems, geothermal heat pumps and solar and wind energy systems.
Shannon is going to save money twice—on her tax bill, and every month, with reductions in her heating and cooling bills.
And, as families like Shannon’s have taken advantage of these tax credits, businesses like Tom’s (local guest) have been doing more work and hiring more people.
Now with tax time almost upon us, it is critically important for everyone to know that these tax incentives can be claimed for purchases made in 2009, and will continue into all of 2010.
Ok, now I’ve talked long enough. I’d like to have a conversation to hear a little about how folks have already used these tax credits.
We won’t be too formal, I’d just like to hear from each of you about your own stories.
Why don’t we start with our host: Pastor Patrick, can you tell us a little about how you became a first-time home buyer and purchased this beautiful house?
Again, I want to thank you all for coming today. I can't tell you how much we appreciate the Hansel’s hospitality.
I would just like to close by reminding everyone that you still have time to claim a variety of tax credits available to you under the Recovery Act if you file before April 15.
Already, tax refunds are up an average of nearly $300 this year—due in large part to Recovery Act benefits. Families buying a new home, investing in a more efficient house or fuel-efficient car could easily see tax savings run into the thousands of dollars.
There is a new Tax Savings Tool on the White House Web site that guides taxpayers through the various new tax benefits and determine which ones they are eligible for this tax season. I would encourage everyone to visit it at WhiteHouse.gov/Recovery.
The work of the Recovery Act is far from over—and it's going to be stimulating the American economy throughout the rest of the year.
I'm confident that it will help continue to provide badly needed support for families, for states and for businesses as the private sector continues to ramp up and get our economy revving again.
Thank you again for having me.