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Economy and Jobs
Recklessness on Wall Street brought our economy to the brink of collapse in the fall of 2008. Unfortunately, the American people are still paying the price as we try and dig our way out of this recession.
The Recovery Act brought tax relief to millions of families and small businesses. It also made important investments in Maine’s infrastructure and contributed greatly to the state’s clean energy initiatives. And while Mike supported the Recovery Act, he believes our country must prioritize a focused, long-term transportation and infrastructure strategy. This would not only help create thousands of jobs and make us more competitive internationally, but it would also give Maine and other states the tools they need to increase safety and productivity in our transportation systems.
Although some indicators suggest the economy is improving, economic relief remains elusive for many Mainers. That’s why Mike has repeatedly called on the President and the Congress to push smart policies that center on job creation.
PUSHING NEW IDEAS TO CREATE JOBS
NORTHERN BORDER REGIONAL COMMISSION (NBRC): Mike passed a bill he authored into law that created the NBRC, which is charged with investing in the economic development of the most distressed areas of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Upstate New York. On September 29th, the NBRC made its first investments in Maine, including an expansion of the Port of Eastport, which is part of a project that will result in the retention of 18 jobs and the creation of 26 new ones.
THE KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER ALLIANCE (KTA): KTA is a unique program that Mike secured funding to create. It’s a collaboration between the University of Maine, community and economic development districts, Maine’s business assistance agencies, municipal and community leaders, and an array of highly qualified private sector advisory firms and individuals. The alliance works to foster connections between the resources of these organizations and businesses and communities that need assistance to get ahead and thrive. In 2010, they worked with 100 local Maine firms and helped boost the bottom line of many and create jobs. For example, KTA worked with a dowel manufacturing company in Oxford County that is in process of expanding operations in Piscataquis County. The company has hired 15 new employees this year and is in process of hiring an additional 20-25 employees after the first of the year.
STEPPING UP TO SAVE LOCAL JOBS WHEN THEY ARE THREATENED
DFAS LIMESTONE: Mike helped to successfully save the Defense Financing and Accounting Service (DFAS) office in Limestone, Maine from closing as part of the 2005 Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). He took the lead on advocating for the dedication and overall excellence of the Maine DFAS employees. By highlighting the case for the quality of life and low operating cost of the Limestone facility, Mike ensured the long-term sustainability of DFAS Limestone. Instead of closing the facility as originally recommended, the Defense BRAC Commission nearly doubled the workforce in Limestone, creating approximately 300 new jobs.
MAINE MILITARY AUTHORITY (MMA): Mike worked to obtain $50 million for Humvee maintenance operations for Limestone’s Maine Military Authority in the fiscal year 2010 Defense Appropriations bill. MMA Limestone refurbishes vehicles for the Army National Guard. Mike helped secure a $20 million increase over the $30 million that was originally budgeted for the facility for fiscal year 2010, which led to jobs being saved and increased maintenance capacity for the Army National Guard. Most recently, Mike announced that the National Guard Bureau is sending 50 5 ton trucks to the Maine Military Authority (MMA) in Limestone for immediate work. According to MMA, each vehicle represents 700 hours of work, enough to keep the current workforce gainfully employed into the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2012.
SUPPORTING INVESTMENTS IN MAINE
RECOVERY ACT: Mike joined Maine’s entire congressional delegation to support the Recovery Act, which has created more than 3 million jobs nationally and 14,000 jobs in Maine. Key investments include those to fix our roads and bridges, modernize community facilities and water systems, and advancements in clean energy initiatives like deepwater offshore wind.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION: The original draft of the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution, a bill to fund the federal government through the remainder of FY 2011, slashed funding for the Economic Development Administration (EDA) – the one program in the federal government whose singular focus is job creation. On this issue, a majority of the House agreed that it was not a smart thing to be cutting and supported Mike’s amendment to restore EDA’s funding. In fact, it passed by a wide bipartisan vote of 305-127. And it’s no wonder – EDA funded projects directly led to the creation of approximately 200,000 jobs nationwide from 2004 to 2008. And in Maine, EDA investments have created 2,539 jobs and retained 962 since 2006.
R&D AT UMAINE: Mike has secured significant investments in UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. Over the years, investments secured by Mike and the delegation have supported an average of 85 faculty, staff, and student jobs. But what the center has been able to do for Maine businesses has significant ripple effects. Between 2001 and 2009, the Center has helped to expand business opportunities and improve competitiveness for nearly 90 companies throughout the State of Maine. It has spun off 13 new Maine companies, expanded product lines for 47 existing companies, and improved products for 31 companies.
PROMOTING CLEAN ENERGY
WIND: Due to the work they are doing with a consortium in Maine, UMaine’s efforts on advancing deepwater offshore wind energy in Maine has the potential to support up to 15,000 new jobs in our state over the coming year if the local supply chain is maximized. Mike has worked with the delegation to support major investments in this project, which includes building a new lab at UMaine where the new composite wind blades and prototype will be built.
TIDAL: Mike has secured funding for the UMaine to conduct research and development into tidal energy development. Partnering with Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC), the University and its partners have made great strides. Mike recently went to ORPC’s Eastport/Lubec operation for a demonstration of how tidal energy can be delivered to the U.S. Coast Guard for use at its Eastport station, representing the first application of tidal energy by a federal agency in history. So far, ORPC has created 80 jobs in 8 Maine counties. Over the next 7 to 10 years they expect to create an additional 400 to 500 jobs and create new markets for Maine’s world class composites industry. Without the federal funding they’ve received, it is unlikely they would have attracted the state and private funding, or have had such an impressive economic impact on the state.
BIOMASS: Mike worked to accelerate a federal program designed to aid biomass producers, which resulted in a significant funding boost for Maine. Many times federal programs can take years to get up and running, but Mike helped lead the push to get it up and running faster. This resulted in Maine biomass producers receiving about $32 million, helping to create much needed jobs in our state. For example, in Guilford, Maine, Hardwood Products Company COO Terry Young said the program enabled his company to hire 62 employees, giving the company a chance to lower prices and be competitive internationally. The new program is also helping to supply our biomass generators the forestry and agricultural byproduct they need to generate clean, renewable energy in our state.
SUPPORTING OUR TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
From his position on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Mike has fought for substantial transportation funding increases in Maine to help boost our economy and improve safety for our citizens. In fact, Mike worked to secure $950 million for Maine highways between 2005 and 2009, representing an average increase of about 30% - or $44 million - per year from the previously authorized amount. Additionally, Mike was able to secure $48.8 million in funding for high need projects in the Second Congressional District alone. This compares to $45 million for such projects for the entire state in the last authorization bill in 1998. The significant increases Mike was able to secure for our state helped create jobs for thousands of Mainers. It also provided critical improvements to existing highways and the construction of new roads and bridges, helping to maximize transportation efficiency.
SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BILL: In 2005, Congress approved a $286.4 billion, 5-year surface transportation bill. And it’s important for our economy that we enact an updated bill, since studies show that as many as 47,500 jobs are created for every billion dollars invested in infrastructure. With unemployment still unacceptably high, this is the type of job creation Mike thinks America needs. While action on the next multiyear bill has been delayed, Mike is seeking to break the impasse. He’s currently working with his colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to pass the next long-term bill to update and improve federal surface transportation programs. In 2010, he helped lead an effort to convince the committee to get the ball rolling on a bill. He then followed up with congressional leaders in 2011 to send the same message. While Mike’s been disappointed with the pace of action on a bill, he’s hopeful that Congress can pass a robust highway bill as soon as possible.
BUILD ACT: Mike would have preferred that the Recovery Act include more investments in transportation and infrastructure because it’s a proven job creator. That’s why last Congress he introduced the BUILD Act, which would use unspent Recovery Act funding to provide a $246 million investment in Maine’s roads and bridges. This approach would not add to the deficit, but it would provide the job creating investments that our economy still badly needs.
FREIGHT RAIL IN NORTHERN MAINE: When northern Maine’s freight rail service was threatened with abandonment by the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, Mike brought together all sides to push for a solution. He worked to bring the federal regulators out of Washington and up to Maine to hold a hearing in Presque Isle. He did this so that they could see firsthand how important the preservation of rail service is to our northern Maine economy. According to the Northern Maine Development Commission, the impact of freight rail impacts 1726 jobs. In 2010, the State of Maine agreed to take over the line and find an operator. Mainers also voted to provide funding for the purchase of the line. In addition, Mike worked to secure $10.5 million through the U.S. Department of Transportation so that additional track work could be completed in order to make sure the rail line remains viable for the businesses that rely on it.
TRUCK WEIGHTS: Mike has made fixing our state’s truck weight problem a top priority. He has introduced multiple bills to accomplish it and has worked over the years to educate fellow members of Congress as well as Republican and Democratic Administrations on the need for the change. At every chance he got, Mike bent the ear of congressional leaders and even the President himself to tell him why this is such a crucial issue for Maine. Thanks to this persistence and hard work, the President responded to Mike’s request to support raising Maine’s Interstate truck weight limits permanently.
In November of 2011, a funding bill was passsed into law that contained a 20 year fix to Maine's truck weight problem. Michaud worked with Democratic and Republican leaders in the House to ensure that the provision pushed by Senators Leahy and Collins in the Senate survived and made it in the final bill. A Congressional Research Service report on the legislative history of this issue can be found HERE, and an informative video that explains the situation can be found below.
HELPING SAVE AND CREATE PAPER INDUSTRY JOBS: Mike has been leading the fight in Congress to end unfair foreign trade practices that have cost Maine 40% of its manufacturing base since the passage of NAFTA.
- In September of 2010, the House passed a bill he pushed to crack down on China’s currency manipulation, which economists have said could create between 700,000 and 1 million U.S. jobs and cut our trade deficit. He has since reintroduced the bill with Bipartisan cosponsors. The bill has also been introduced in the U.S. Senate, counting Olympia Snowe as a lead sponsor.
- Mike is also leading the charge on permanently placing tariffs on subsidized Indonesian and Chinese paper, which has already resulted in the rehiring of 100 workers at the NewPage mill in Rumford, and would stand to save or create many more jobs in Maine’s paper industry and other businesses in its supply chain.
- In addition, Mike is the Chairman of the House Trade Working Group and is leading the fight in Congress to promote fair trade and the strict enforcement of trade agreements already on the books.
HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES & MANUFACTURERS SUCCEED
As a former small business owner, Mike understands the needs of our nation’s entrepreneurs. He has served on the House Small Business Committee and has worked hard to ensure that the voices of Maine's small businesses and manufacturers are heard at the federal level.
When he was a member of the Small Business Committee, Mike pushed to level the playing field for small businesses. He and his fellow committee members promoted policies that open up the federal marketplace to small businesses, promote fair regulations, increase access to affordable startup capital, and update important Small Business Administration (SBA) programs. In light of the recession and credit crunch, Mike has recently fought to increase the affordability and availability of credit to small businesses through providing strong federal loan guaranties and eliminating fees for SBA lending programs.
SMALL BUSINESS JOBS ACT: Mike helped pass this bill, which leverages up to $300 billion in private sector lending for small businesses to help create an estimated 500,000 new jobs. The bill also gives small businesses $12 billion in tax cuts to spur investment, growth, new starts and hiring by:
- doubling and enhancing small business expensing and extending bonus depreciation
- allowing for 100% exclusion of capital gains on investments in small business
- doubling the deduction for start-up expenditures
- allowing self-employed taxpayers to deduct health costs for payroll tax purposes
The bill also contains two provisions that Michaud worked to pass in the House earlier this year. These two provisions are credited with making access to capital more affordable for small businesses and increasing SBA loan volumes in Maine by 236 percent:
- the elimination of fees charged for certain Small Business Administration (SBA) loans
- an increase in the government guarantees on 7(a) loans from 75 percent to 90 percent.
MAINE MANUFACTURING EXTENSION PARTNERSHIP (MEP): The MEP provides information and consulting services to help small businesses and manufacturers adopt advanced technologies and business practices that help them compete in a global market. Over the years, Mike has successfully worked with a bipartisan group of his colleagues to fund the MEP program. Today it enjoys wide support and is heralded as one of the more successful economic development and job creation programs in the federal government. Between October 2005 and August 2010, 261 companies surveyed reported that, as a result of their relationship with the Maine MEP, they have:
- Created 665 jobs that otherwise would not have existed
- Retained 1,775 jobs that otherwise would not have existed
- Increased and retained $344 million in sales
- Spent $61.9 million on new investment
- Experienced $39.5 million in cost savings
REFORMING WALL STREET AND OPPOSING ITS BAILOUT
Mike voted against the Wall Street bailout because it failed to adequately protect taxpayers and ensure that the funding would be used in the best possible way. Since it passed, the execution has been deeply flawed. Banks who received bailout funding hoarded it or used it to acquire other banks, doing little to increase lending or help the economy. Since its passage, Mike voted to terminate the bailout altogether, disapprove further bailout expenditures, and increase transparency and oversight.
In 2010, Congress passed and Mike supported the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a bill that will modernize U.S. financial regulations and hold Wall Street accountable. The bill also ends the Wall Street bailout and contains an amendment that Michaud authored that would reign in escrow company abuses nationwide.
Part of the reason Mike voted against the bailout of Wall Street in the first place was because it contained no reforms to the U.S. financial system. While he believes the bill took too long to pass, it did lay out commonsense rules of the road for the financial industry that will ensure big banks and Wall Street can’t gamble again with our futures. At the same time, it will end taxpayer bailouts and protect consumers from predatory lending abuses, fine print, and industry gimmicks.