Congressman Cook's Newsletter: December 2, 2014
A Message from Congressman Cook on Tax Reform
With Republicans assuming control of both the House and Senate in January, Congress now has the opportunity and the responsibility to revise our tax code. Our current tax code is written in a way that benefits accountants, attorneys, and well-connected special interests. Our tax deductions often favor these narrow interests, and too few benefit working Americans and the average business – both of which are struggling in system that can prevent them from thriving. It’s time we right the ship and create a better and fairer economy. At the same time, the base tax rates are too high. Reducing the overall tax rates, along with cuts to inefficient and outdated spending programs will boost the economy and create jobs without increasing our budget deficit.
While many of the deductions written into the tax code are special interest loopholes, we must fight to retain common-sense taxpayer protections. One of those is the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction, a deduction that allows the dream of home ownership to become a reality for millions of Americans. It allows homeowners to reduce their tax burden by deducting the interest they pay on their home loan. This deduction is a valuable tool in saving for the future and helps create stable communities by creating buyers instead of renters.
American families have been hit hard by a tough economy. Raising a child in this day and age is expensive, but our tax code shouldn’t make it harder. I worked with my colleagues in the House to pass the Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014 (H.R. 4935), which allows more American families access to the $1,000 per-child tax credit. The bill also eliminates the, “marriage penalty” and will prevent nearly $1 billion dollars in false claims by requiring families to submit a social security number to claim the credit. The current Senate has refused to act on this pro-family bill, though I and others are pressing for change with the new Republican Senate.
I also support efforts to reward young Americans who invest in their future by pursuing higher education. H.R. 3393, the Student and Family Tax Simplification Act, consolidates educational tax deductions into one refundable credit for students. The new American Opportunity Tax Credit would provide between $2000 and $4000 each year for qualified tuition expenses. More students, many of whom struggle to support themselves and repay their student loans, will have access to this credit thanks to this legislation. Despite widespread support in the House, the current Senate has obstructed this bill from moving forward. This too must change.
With the New Year and a new majority in the Senate, the next congress must move forward on reforming our broken tax code. That said, the current Senate still has the opportunity to act on these important bills, and I will dedicate myself in the remaining days of 2014 to pursuing that goal. Sending H.R. 4935 and H.R. 3393 to the president for his signature would be a great first step as we move forward with comprehensive tax reform in the next congress. It’s time to have a tax code that serves American families and small businesses, not special interests.
This editorial first appeared in the Inyo County Register on November 20, 2014.
Congressman Cook Votes to Protect Our Nation’s Electric Grid
Congressman Cook voted in support of H.R. 3410, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act. This bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to protect against threats to our nation’s electric grid and develop contingency plans in the event of an attack.
An attack on the grid by the Islamic State or a similar organization has been a recent topic of discussion in the national media. Reports estimate that an attack on our national electric grid could render the system unworkable for multiple days, putting rural areas across the country in economic hardship. Military bases and other national security facilities, including the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, have begun developing their own independent power grids in response.
Cook said, “Our electric grid is an essential part of any homeland security protection plan. It's long past time that we create an emergency plan in the event of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or other directed attack on our grid. This isn’t a threat to a few cities or states, it impacts the entire nation. The evolution of the technology and the organizations seeking to attack the US homeland should make this a top priority for Homeland Security.”
Congressman Cook Supports Internet Tax Freedom
Over the course of the past two decades, new technologies have changed the way Americans share information, get our news, and buy goods. Since 1998, Congress has used a series of temporary measures to ensure that states don't tax Americans’ access to the internet or e-commerce transactions.
Congressman Cook believes it's time to reaffirm our commitment to keeping internet access free and open to all. Cook voted for H.R. 3086, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act. This bipartisan bill is a permanent measure that will protect Americans’ ability to access the internet in an age where more and more of our lives rely on transactions made in cyberspace.
Congressman Cook Mourns Passing of Big Bear Lake City Clerk
I’m saddened to hear of the passing of Cheri Haggerty Lawrence, city clerk for Big Bear Lake. Mrs. Haggerty Lawrence served Big Bear Lake for many years in a variety of roles. My thoughts and prayers are with her husband, children, and family during this difficult time. You can read more about her work in the community here.
Image courtesy of The San Bernardino Sun.
Marines Treated to Rides in Vintage Cars
A one-way cab ride from the Palm Springs airport to the Twentynine Palms base can cost as much as $200 per person. More than 300 Marines kept that cash in their pockets, when they returned from spending Thanksgiving with loved ones.
Soldiers Organized Services, or "SOS," partnered with the Morongo Basin Car Club for a second year to drive many of the Marines to the base in restored classic cars. The plan called for 16 vintage rides, unfortunately extremely strong winds in the high desert forced organizers and volunteers to use their personal cars for the lengthy drive. Three classic cars—a 1927 Model T, a 1942 Ford convertible, and a 2002 Corvette—were still able to make the trip.
Erica Stone, founder of SOS, walked a group of Marines from the airport to Palm Springs City Hall, where several drivers awaited them. "I had no idea (about the ride) until I got back to Palm Springs," said Chandler Mason, who got to ride in an electric blue convertible, "I'm a big car fan."
Stone says, "It's so much more than a free ride. It's about giving.”
SOS organizes the rides as a reprieve for many Marines who struggle to afford trips back home for the holidays.
Image and quotes courtesy of The Desert Sun.
Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map Released
The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has presented the Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) panels and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) report components for San Bernardino County and Incorporated Areas for the community to review. You can view the map here.
My office is here to help you. If you or someone you know needs help with the Veterans' Administration please call my Apple Valley District Office at 760-247-1815.
Long Trail Home Raises Money For Veterans
Matt Littrell, a Marine, who served two tours in Iraq during his enlistment is raising money for the Semper Fi Fund. The program provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post 9/11 wounded, critically ill, and injured members of all branches of the U.S. armed forces and their families.
Littrell rode his horse more than 2700 miles from Camp Lejeune, NC to Camp Pendleton, CA, and finished his journey on December 1. He dubbed the trip the “Long Trail Home” and began the journey on Veterans Day. Littrell has raised more than $80,000 for the Semper Fi Fund.
The founder of GoDaddy has promised to match all money raised by the Semper Fi Fund until December 31 (up to $5 million). To donate, click here.
Image courtesy of The Long Trail Home Facebook Page.
All Veterans Job Fair
Disabled American Veterans and Recruit Military will host an all veteran’s job fair on December 4. It will be held at Liberty Station’s Naval Training Center Promenade at Corky McMillin Event Center, in San Diego. The job fair will start at 11 AM and wrap up at 3 PM. You can find more information here.
Wreaths Across America
Every year before Christmas thousands of holiday wreaths are placed on service members graves in every National cemetery across the country. You can add to the number of wreaths by purchasing one by December 2. Wreaths are $15.00 each, and will be delivered and placed at any National cemetery. This year the ceremony will be on Saturday, December 13 at The Riverside National Cemetery ceremony, starting at 9 AM. The public is welcome to attend. This is a formal event, and appropriate dress is required. Military and retired military are encouraged to wear the appropriate uniform. For more information, or to donate, click here.