Mark Begich on Budget & Economy
Democratic Jr Senator
Closed $33M budget gap without using one-time reserves
When I became mayor in 2003, we inherited a $33 million budget gap. The state had eliminated community assistance and the city was dipping into one-time cash reserves to pay for on-going functions. To fill that gap, we cut services, asked city workers
to forego already negotiated raises and banned the use of one-time reserves for routine operations.
Since 2004, Anchorage has received nearly $60 million in state community assistance. We’ve applied every penny for property tax relief.
Source: 2008 State of the City Address
, Jul 28, 2008
No secret earmarks; full online disclosure
Recent ethics reform legislation doesn’t do anything to shed light on what other special interest projects the senator may be seeking. The earmark requests made public are available only by going in person to the Appropriations Committees’ offices in
Washington, DC. Every earmark requested by a senator should be posted online so Alaskans know what & who their elected officials are fighting for. Senators should disclose on whose behalf the earmark was requested & how it will benefit their constituents
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.begich.com, “Issues”
, May 21, 2008
As mayor: bond rating up; jobs increased; taxes down
Under Mayor Begich, Anchorage’s bond ratings have improved to among the top 5 percent in the country, some
9,200 new jobs have been created, the city enjoyed the second highest construction value in city history and property taxes dropped for the majority of Anchorage property owners between 2006-07.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.begich.com, “Bio”
, Apr 4, 2008
Voted YES on $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending.
- $7 billion Increase in Fund balance appropriation (without fiscal year limitation).
- With respect to the Unemployment Trust Fund and to the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund: Removes the FY2010 limitation as well as the specific dollar amount for such advances, replacing them with such appropriations as may be necessary.
- Increases from $315 billion to $400 billion the maximum loan principal for FY2009 commitments to guarantee single family loans insured under the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF).
- Increases from $300 billion to $400 billion the limit on new Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA or Ginnie Mae) commitments to issue guarantees under the Mortgage-Backed Securities Loan Guarantee Program.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. LEWIS (D, GA-5): This bipartisan bill will provide the necessary funds to keep important transportation projects operating in States around the country. The Highway
Trust Fund will run out of funding by September. We must act, and we must act now.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. CAMP (R, MI-4): [This interim spending is] needed because the Democrats' economic policy has resulted in record job loss, record deficits, and none of the job creation they promised. Democrats predicted unemployment would top out at 8% if the stimulus passed; instead, it's 9.5% and rising. In Michigan, it's above 15%. The Nation's public debt and unemployment, combined, has risen by a shocking 40% [because of] literally trillions of dollars in additional spending under the Democrats' stimulus, energy, and health plans.
We had a choice when it came to the stimulus last February. We could have chosen a better policy of stimulating private-sector growth creating twice the jobs at half the price. That was the Republican plan. Instead, Democrats insisted on their government focus plan, which has produced no jobs and a mountain of debt.
Reference: Omnibus Appropriations Act Amendment;
Bill H.R. 3357
; vote number 2009-S254
on Jul 30, 2009
Voted YES on modifying bankruptcy rules to avoid mortgage foreclosures.
Congressional Summary:Amends federal bankruptcy law to exclude debts secured by the debtor's principal residence that was either sold in foreclosure or surrendered to the creditor.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. PETER WELCH (D, VT-0): Citigroup supports this bill. Why? They're a huge lender. They understand that we have to stabilize home values in order to begin the recovery, and they need a tool to accomplish it. Mortgages that have been sliced and diced into 50 different sections make it impossible even for a mortgage company and a borrower to come together to resolve the problem that they share together.
Sen. DICK DURBIN (D, IL): 8.1 million homes face foreclosure in America today. Last year, I offered this amendment to change the bankruptcy law, and the banking community said: Totally unnecessary. In fact, the estimates were of only 2 million homes in foreclosure last year. America is facing a crisis.
Opponent's argument to vote
Sen. JON KYL (R, AZ): This amendment would allow bankruptcy judges to modify home mortgages by lowering the principal and interest rate on the loan or extending the term of the loan. The concept in the trade is known as cram-down. It would apply to all borrowers who are 60 days or more delinquent. Many experts believe the cram-down provision would result in higher interest rates for all home mortgages. We could end up exacerbating this situation for all the people who would want to refinance or to take out loans in the future.
Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): Of the foundational policies of American exceptionalism, the concepts that have inspired our great Nation are the sanctity of private contracts and upholding the rule of law. This cramdown bill crassly undercuts both of these pillars of American exceptionalism. Why would a lender make a 30-year loan if they fear the powers of the Federal Government will violate the very terms of that loan?
Reference: Helping Families Save Their Homes Act;
; vote number 2009-S185
on May 6, 2009
Voted YES on additional $825 billion for economic recovery package.
Congressional Summary:Supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): This country is facing what most economists consider to be the most serious and the most dangerous economic situation in our lifetimes. This package today is an $825 billion package that does a variety of things to try to reinflate the economy:
- creating or saving at least 4 million jobs
- rebuilding our basic infrastructure
- providing for job retraining for those workers who need to learn new skills
- moving toward energy independence
- improving our healthcare system so all Americans can have access to quality treatment
- providing tax cuts to lessen the impact of this crisis on America's working families.
argument to vote No:
Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-51): Most of us would agree that the recent $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is an illustration of how good intentions don't always deliver desired results. When Congress spends too much too quickly, it doesn't think through the details and oversight becomes more difficult. The lesson learned from TARP was this: we cannot manage what we do not measure. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.
Sen. THAD COCHRAN (R, MS): We are giving the executive branch immense latitude in the disbursement of the spending this bill contains. We are doing so without any documentation of how this spending will stimulate the economy. Normally, this kind of information would be contained in an administration budget. For items that have a short-term stimulative effect, most of us will feel comfortable debating their merits as an emergency measure. But there is a great deal of spending that is not immediately stimulative.
Reference: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act;
; vote number 2009-S061
on Feb 10, 2009
Audit the Federal Reserve & its actions on mortgage loans.
Begich co-sponsored Federal Reserve Transparency Act
The Federal Reserve Transparency Act directs:
- the completion, within 12 months, the audit of the Federal Reserve System and of the Federal Reserve Banks; with a detailed report of audit findings and conclusions.
- Audit and report on the loan files of homeowners in foreclosure in 2009 or 2010, required as part of the enforcement actions taken by the Federal Reserve against supervised financial institutions.
- Prescribes audit contents, including:
Source: H.R.24&S.209 13-S0209 on Feb 4, 2013
- the guidance given by the Federal Reserve to independent consultants retained by the supervised financial institutions regarding procedures to be followed in conducting the file reviews,
- the factors considered by independent consultants when evaluating loan files and the results obtained pursuant to those reviews, and
- the determinations made by such consultants regarding the nature and extent of financial injury sustained by each homeowner as well as the level and type of remediation offered.
More enforcement of mortgage fraud and TARP fraud.
Begich signed Fight Fraud Act
An Act to improve enforcement of mortgage fraud, securities and commodities fraud, financial institution fraud, and other frauds related to Federal assistance and relief programs, and for the recovery of funds lost to these fraud.
Source: S.386&HR1748 2009-S386 on May 4, 2009
- Amends the federal criminal code to include within the definition of "financial institution" a mortgage lending business or any entity that makes a federally related mortgage loan.
- Extends the prohibition against making false statements in a mortgage application to employees and agents of a mortgage lending business.
- Applies the prohibition against defrauding the federal government to fraudulent activities involving the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) or a federal economic stimulus, recovery, or rescue plan.
Expands securities fraud provisions to cover fraud involving options and futures in commodities.
- Authorizes appropriations to the Attorney General, the Postal Service, and HUD, for investigations, prosecutions, and civil proceedings involving federal assistance programs and financial institutions.
- Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to define "covered criminal activity" as including a criminal conspiracy including economic crime, financial fraud, and mortgage fraud.
Ban abusive credit practices & enhance consumer disclosure.
Begich signed Credit CARD Act
Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 or the Credit CARD Act of 2009:
Source: S.414 & H.R.627 2009-S414 on Feb 11, 2009
- Tile I: Amends the Truth in Lending Act to require advance notice of any increase in the annual percentage rate of interest (APR) pertaining to a credit card account under an open end consumer credit plan.
- Imposes a freeze on interest rate terms and fees on canceled cards.
- Sets limits on fees and interest charges, including a prohibition against penalties for on-time payments.
- Allows imposition of an over-the-limit fee only once during a billing cycle. Prohibits its imposition in a subsequent billing cycle.
- Requires fees for cardholder agreement violations and currency exchanges to be reasonable.
- Prohibits a creditor from furnishing information to a consumer reporting agency concerning a newly opened credit card account until the credit card has been used or activated by the consumer.
Title II: Enhanced Consumer Disclosures: Requires the creditor to provide a toll-free telephone number at which the consumer may receive information about accessing credit counseling and debt management services.
- Revises requirements relating to late payment deadlines and penalties.
- Requires a periodic statement of account to disclose: (1) the date by which a payment must be postmarked, if paid by mail, in order to avoid the imposition of a late payment fee; and (2) any possible resulting increase in interest rates for late payments.
- Title III: Protection of Young Consumers: Prohibits issuance of a credit card on behalf of a consumer under age 21, unless the consumer has submitted a written application meeting specified requirements.
Page last updated: Oct 06, 2018