Video: Watch Joe on Face the State

Today, Joe appeared on Face the State hosted by WFSB Anchor Dennis House.  In his segment, Joe spoke about extending tax relief for middle class families in Connecticut, his work to improve the economy and grow jobs in our area, and the comments his opponent made about the future of Submarine Base New London.

In the News: Local Businesses Tout Small Business Bill

On Thursday, Joe voted to pass the Small Business Lending Fund Act of 2010, which expands small business lending while providing targeted tax incentives to help put capital back in the hands of our small business owners.

In an article in the New London Day, two local small businesses owners discussed the impact of the bill on their firms and their plans to expand and grow jobs.

The Small Business Jobs Act that President Barack Obama is expected to sign next week will help local car dealer Jeff Aiosa relocate his business into the shuttered Bob’s Furniture store on Colman Street in New London.

It will also help Marlborough plastics manufacturer Joe Asklar build a new state-of-the-art injection molding facility and outfit it with “green” machinery, keeping jobs and contracts here in Connecticut.

Joe Asklar of Marlborough Plastics discussed the importance of the bill:

Asklar’s business, Marlborough Plastics, is getting financial help to construct a new $1 million facility on 5 acres of land and buy about $800,000 worth of green machinery, he said. The small manufacturer does tool and dye work and produces plastic moldings for Boeing in Seattle and parts for Pratt & Whitney, he said.

What drove him to plan constructing a new building was the loss to a competitor of a contract for making a portion of the wings for a military drone.

“The company making them said, ‘We like your engineering, but your facility can’t cut it,’ ” Asklar said.

The Small Business Lending Fund Act of 2010, which passed the House on Thursday with the support of only one Republican, includes critical assistance to help small businesses — the engine of our economy.  The bill:

  • Includes $12 billion in tax cuts to boost investment and hiring in small businesses, including: doubling expending and extending bonus deprecation, a 100% exclusion on capital gains investment in small businesses, doubling the tax deduction for expenses in starting up a new business, and allowing the self-employed to deduct their health care costs from their taxes.
  • Leverages $300 billion in lending for small businesses – from the private sector and states, as well as extending fee elimination for SBA loans.
  • Increases access to private capital to expand and hire new workers.
  • Expands assistance to small businesses to market and sell their products abroad.
  • Does not add to the deficit and is fully paid for over 10 years by closing tax loopholes and other provisions.

A number of organizations supported the bill, including the National Retail Federation, National Small Business Association, Financial Services Roundtable, Independent Community Bankers of America  and the American Bankers Association.

Letter: Joe stands up for our region’s family farms

Felix Giordono of Ashford writes in the Willimantic Chronicle about Joe’s efforts to support our region’s dairy farmers and family farms.

Many of us attend farmers markets because we understand the importance of purchasing locally grown products.

The foods are not only healthier and fresher but buying them helps sustain the farms that dot our precious Connecticut landscape. If not for these farms, there would be less open space.

That translates to more housing developments, shopping centers and industrial parks all requiring additional local and state services, which demand higher taxes from all of us.

One person who fights to keep these local farms from disappearing is U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd. As you know, the present economic landscape has put a squeeze on everyone but none has been hit harder than Connecticut’s dairy farmers. While their operating costs continue to rise, the price they charge for milk is set by the federal government, which prevents our farmers from making a profit.

Courtney has not stood by. His letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack prompted action and Courtney also helped bring Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan to Connecticut to see the issue firsthand.

As founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Dairy Farmers Caucus, Courtney is well versed in what is required to keep Connecticut farming viable.

A vote for Courtney this November will ensure the quality of life that you and your families are accustomed to.

Letters: Joe has supported eliminating reporting requirements for small businesses

Earlier this week, the New London Day published a letter that claiming that Joe supports a “job-killing” provision in the new health reform law.  The provision in question, which increases reporting requirements for businesses to ensure tax compliance on 1099 forms, was added by the Senate in its version of the health reform legislation and included in the final law.

Since it passed, however, Joe has heard concerns about the impact that it will have on small businesses, and has supported efforts to eliminate the provision – a fact not mentioned in the Sept. 17 letter.  Also not mentioned is that Joe’s Republican colleagues in the House actually blocked a bill to eliminate the 1099 reporting requirements from passing.

Theresa Weiss of Quaker Hill writes in The Day:

In response to a letter titled “Courtney’s vote hindering business,” published Sept. 17, let the record show that Rep. Joe Courtney is working to help small-business owners and to retain jobs. His voting record supports this claim.

In July, he voted for H.R. 5982, which, if Republicans hadn’t blocked its passage, would have:

• Removed the 1099 mandate.

• Eliminated tax breaks for companies that ship American jobs out of the country.

At issue in the letter is the 1099 provision. This provision, part of the new health care reform bill, does not create a new tax. It was designed as a reporting requirement to ensure that businesses comply with existing tax laws.

Rep. Courtney recognized the potential hardships this provision in the bill could impose on small businesses and voted for its removal.

Also, Jessica McLaughlin of Waterford adds:

This is in response to the letter titled “Courtney’s vote hindering business,” published Sept. 17. There are several key points left out of that letter including that the new provision requiring businesses to file 1099 forms is not a new tax, but simply a way to ensure businesses comply with existing tax laws, which the Congressional Budget Office has estimated will generate $17 billion during 10 years.

The provision doesn’t take effect until 2012, but Republicans are stoking fear among the business community about it by calling it “job-killing.”

Because of the negative response to this mandate in the health care reform bill, House Democrats supported a repeal of the provision, but it was blocked by Republicans; including Minority Leader John Boehner. Why are Republicans against repealing the mandate they’ve termed “job-killing”? Because Democrats have implemented closing tax loopholes for large corporations that ship jobs overseas as a way to make up for the lost revenue.

So while Republicans claim the deficit needs to be under control, they continue to push for tax loopholes and tax breaks for the very wealthy and large corporations.

Rep. Joe Courtney has my vote in November as he represents my interests.

In the News: Joe works to ensure that seniors get the care they need

The Connecticut Mirror today reports on legislation that Joe recently introduced to change an outdated federal policy to ensure Medicare patients have access to needed skilled care. Joe decided to take action on this issue after hearing the experience of the Renshaw family of Bozrah:
It was upsetting enough when Nancy Renshaw found her 89-year-old father-in-law, Charles Renshaw, on the floor of his apartment, confused, cold, and in pain from an apparent fall.

Then came this shocker: After more than 3 days at Norwich’s Backus Hospital, as Renshaw was about to be discharged, a nurse told his family that he had never technically been admitted as an in-patient. He had been in the hospital under “observation” status, though he’d been sleeping in a hospital bed, wearing a hospital gown, and eating hospital food.

For the Renshaws, that ended up being a nearly $10,000 decision. And it’s one being made with increasing frequency by hospitals across the country in treating elderly Medicare patients, as hospitals opt against fully admitting some elderly patients and instead treating them in a kind of limbo status.

The Renshaw family is one of over a million that have been impacted by the updated trend of patients being kept in hospitals on “observation status,” rather than being admitted as a patient.    That is why Joe Courtney took their experience and introduced legislation to combat the problem.

“This is really a trend that’s unacceptable,” said Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, who dug into the issue after being approached by Nancy Renshaw. “We’ve heard stories of people who were categorized under observation for longer than a week. It’s kind of crazy.”

Courtney recently introduced legislation that would amend the Medicare law to count a patient’s time in the hospital on “observation” status towards the three-day hospital stay requirement that triggers Medicare coverage for post-hospital nursing care. “The bill just tries to, in the most direct fashion, protect people from this no-man’s land they find themselves in,” he said.

While this situation may have started as a cost-savings measure by Medicare, Courtney said, the unintended consequences may increase, not decrease, medical costs.

He fears it will create a “revolving door” of Medicare patients returning to a hospital if they can’t afford post-discharge assistance. “If you are somebody who suddenly finds themselves not eligible for the rehabilitative care… what do you do?” he asked. “Go home and hope for the best? And the likely end up readmitted to the hospital?”

He and others said this trend seemed to start well before the passage of health care reform, but went mostly unnoticed. There’s nothing in the overhaul measure to specifically address this situation, although Stein said the law’s incentives to improve the quality of care could reduce overall costs and eventually lessen the pressures on agencies like Medicare.

Click here to read the full article at the CT Mirror

In the News: Joe’s opponent calls the sub base a “special interest”

The New London Day reports on alarming comments made by Joe’s republican opponent over the weekend regarding the future of Naval Submarine Base New London – in which she called projects to support and protect the base “special interest money” that she would not support if elected.

In an interview Sunday that her campaign admits was “confusing,” Republican congressional candidate Janet Peckinpaugh reiterated her support for the Naval Submarine Base but indicated she would not support the increased federal spending there that has been a hallmark of incumbent Joe Courtney’s tenure.

Her comments came on the WFSB-TV program “Face the State,” when host Dennis House said Courtney, who represents the 2nd Congressional District, has brought in millions for new sub base projects and asked Peckinpaugh if she would support that kind of spending.

“No, I wouldn’t. We’ve got to tighten our budgets,” Peckinpaugh said. “We don’t have a budget. The House did not have a budget this time around. Why is that? That’s frightening to me and to the American people. We have to start stripping things away, and that includes special interest money.”

On Monday, a campaign spokeswoman for Peckinpaugh said the candidate’s comments about “special interest” referred to legislative earmarks.

But as the article points out, most of the projects funded at the base to improve its infrastructure in recent years has been provided through the same kind of “earmarks” that Joe’s opponent now opposes for the base:

However, all but one of the improvement projects were funded through earmarks, also called “congressional adds.”

Courtney, a Democrat, has insisted funding infrastructure and other construction projects is vital to the base’s future. Since 2007, more than $80 million has been allocated “to upgrade the base and increase its value to the military,” said Courtney’s campaign manager, Neil McKiernan.

“Janet Peckinpaugh’s statements on the submarine base have been incoherent at best and utterly alarming at worst,” McKiernan said in a statement. “First, she said that protecting the base should be ‘absolutely bipartisan’ – after participating in a partisan stunt aimed at stoking fears of a non-existent closure threat. Then, just yesterday, Peckinpaugh said she would turn down the very funding needed to support it. Janet Peckinpaugh either lacks the most basic understanding of the issues facing the sub base or she is actively advocating policies that undermine its future.”

McKiernan said Courtney’s earmarks for the sub base include a new submarine learning center ($9 million), waterfront operations center ($12 million), indoor firing range ($11 million), torpedo magazine ($7 million), and submarine leadership headquarters building ($13 million).

A $46 million project to replace a submarine pier was the only project included in the Pentagon budget, he said.

“Adds for military construction projects are one key way that a member of Congress advocates for a base – otherwise, the only other way for a base to be funded for additional projects is for one to be included in the budget by the DOD,” McKiernan said. “Without congressional adds, these projects are typically scheduled to be funded years down the road – and often punted further into the future with each successive budget.”

Joe is proud of his work to invest in the base and improve its military value ahead of any potential closure threat in the future, and will keep fighting for the funding needed to ensure that the base continues to be able to support our nation’s submarine force — hardly a “special interest.”  Read about his work to support the base here.

Read the full New London Day article here.

Letter: Joe is “honest, hardworking and effective.”

David Norman of Vernon writes in the Journal Inquirer that Joe is a “smart, pragmatic” representative for our region:

Integrity and independence — they’re not traits normally associated with politicians. But with U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, it’s exactly what you get.

Courtney isn’t the loudest person in Washington, but he just may be the most honest, hardworking, and effective. On issues of local, national, and international importance, Courtney has stood up and represented us — not the special interests.

When Republicans and Democrats pushed through a multibillion-dollar bank bailout, Courtney was the only representative from Connecticut to vote no. When Senate leaders wanted to raise your taxes through an excise tax on employer-provided health-care plans, Courtney led the opposition. When the federal government threatened to close our submarine base, he put aside politics to help save the base. Courtney opposed the Patriot Act and the Bush administration’s misguided escalation of the war in Iraq.

We are lucky to have someone like Courtney representing eastern Connecticut in Congress. This November, I will be voting for Courtney — a smart, pragmatic, and progressive leader.

Read the letter here.

Letter: “I would want Joe Courtney” fighting for the base

Deb Patrick of Groton writes about Joe’s efforts to support Submarine Base New London in the New London Day this morning.

Joe Courtney has worked tirelessly to bring millions in federal funding to the submarine base as a member of the House Armed Services Committee and has tremendous expertise on submarine and Navy issues. I know that if a base-closure threat were to emerge I would want Joe Courtney fighting for me.

Read the letter here.

Read about Joe’s efforts to invest in the base and our region’s economy.

In the News: Joe gets the word out about help to soldiers

The Norwich Bulletin covers Joe’s work to make sure that soldiers and veterans who were “stop-lossed” – involuntarily deployed in combat longer than scheduled – know about an important program that compensates them for their extended duty.  As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Joe helped pass legislation to provide stop-lossed soldiers with additional pay to reduce the burden they and their families felt during their extended tours.

Veterans organizations are trying to get the word out to soldiers whose duty was involuntarily extended that they may be eligible for additional pay.

A plan was approved by Congress last year to provide up to $500 per month of bonus pay to troops whose time was involuntarily continued after Sept. 11, 2001.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said about 145,000 people are eligible for the bonus money, but many have not applied for it. The deadline is Oct. 21.

One of the biggest challenges with the program is that many eligible veterans and soldier might not know that this assistance is availible:

Ronald Rusko Rusakiewicz, adjutant of Veterans of Foreign Wars Connecticut, said veterans may not know about the program.

“I think the only reason they’re not applying for it is they don’t understand it’s available,” he said. The program is also referred to as “stop loss pay.” Stop loss refers to a military requirement that soldiers remain on active duty beyond their scheduled discharge date.

Michael McVicker, who retired from the Army National Guard and served in Iraq, said he was not stop lossed, but he knows others who were.

McVicker, of Oakdale, said soldiers with extended tours had to deal with a range of issues, from breaking leases to handling college and family commitments.

“I think it’s good that they’re trying to do something a little bit extra for those soldiers who were stop lossed, because they made plans for their lives,” he said.

McVicker said there shouldn’t be an application deadline; if soldiers are eligible for benefits, they should receive them.

Read the article here.

Learn more about the program here.

Letter: Joe helps a local company “make it in America”

Joe discusses manufacturing issues at Ballore, a company in Dayville that he helped reduce costs and preserve jobs.

Today’s New London Day carries a letter from Steve Brunetti, President of a manufacturing company in Dayville, describing Joe’s successful efforts to help his company reduce its costs and preserve jobs.

I contacted Rep. Joe Courtney’s office last year to vent about some unfair trade practices that were adversely impacting our business, and casting doubts about the future of some hard-working people in northeastern Connecticut. Ours is a manufacturing company working against the odds to compete in a highly competitive and sometimes on an unfair global playing field, trying hard to provide decent wages, benefits and hope.

Rep. Courtney and his staff were surprisingly accessible, interested in our issues and willing to work to help. In short order, we developed a strategy and an approach that would allow us consideration and inclusion in an upcoming tax bill.

The resulting good news – and proof that it is possible for our government to actually work on behalf of the average person – is that on Aug. 11 President Obama signed into law the U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act, which contains critical tariff suspensions and reductions aimed at helping American companies grow and support further job creation, the very issue our company had been struggling with.

Read the letter here.

Read more about Joe’s work to support American manufacturing.

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