Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Letter to the Editor elicits response from Sen. Arlen Specter

Published on Tuesday, August 26 with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's Letters to the Editor on the Web.

Tax credit priority
Kudos for your editorial rebuking the Steelers' effort to put the taxpayers on the hook for one-third of the $12 million entertainment complex price tag and the reminder that two of Pittsburgh's major sports franchises have already shared more than $350 million in taxpayer subsidies ("Stage North: The Ampitheater Needs No Public Subsidy," Aug. 19 editorial).

In these hard economic times, we need to prioritize struggling families over sports franchises. What we really need is for the U.S. Senate to pass an expanded child tax credit (S. 3335). Right now hard-working Pennsylvania families with earnings less than $12,050 don't qualify for the
tax credit.

Already this year Sen. Arlen Specter has passed up four chances to help those earning between $8,500 and $12,050 get more from the credit so that parents engaged in back-breaking but noble work in nursing homes, child-care centers, hotels and agricultural fields might have a little extra cash to lighten the load.

In September, the Senate should pass the expanded child tax credit so that more than 91,000 Pennsylvania children would become eligible for the tax credit and another nearly 317,000 children would receive a larger credit. It's long past time for the U.S. Senate to step up to the
plate and go to bat for the children of the hard-working, struggling
low-income families.

Tax Credit Campaign Organizer
Just Harvest
South Side

A representative from Sen. Arlen Specter's office responded on Friday, September 05, 2008.

Specter and taxes
A recent letter by Kristie Weiland calls on Sen. Arlen Specter to support adjustments to the child tax credit that will enable more families to qualify who have little or no income tax liability ("Tax Credit Priority," Aug. 26 letters). Ms. Weiland should be pleased to know that Sen. Specter has been a supporter of efforts to reduce the tax liability of families with children, including legislation that doubled the amount of tax relief that families may qualify for under the child tax credit from $500 up to $1,000 per child.

In her comments on the senator's voting record, Ms. Weiland fails to mention that the specific provision she discusses is part of a much broader package that provides for the extension of expired and expiring tax provisions, including the research and development tax credit, alternative minimum tax relief and incentives for investment in alternative energy production. These provisions are broadly supported but have been held hostage by disagreements over revenue offsets and the length of extensions. The majority leader has chosen to skip the customary committee process and to instead draft a bill in a back room. Sen. Specter has stated his preference to see this package passed with the opportunity for input and amendments from the minority party, without using a mere extension of benefits we already enjoy as an excuse to raise taxes elsewhere, and with longer extensions so that the yearly tax extender fight can be avoided.

When the Senate returns this month, passage of a tax extenders package will be a top priority for Sen. Specter.

Press Sectretary
U.S. Senator Arlen Specter
Washington, D.C.

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