2003 was a productive year

Published 5:39 am Wednesday, January 21, 2004

By Staff
Over the last 12 months, Congress has delivered on promises to relieve the tax burden on working families and small business, to expand benefits for veterans, to safeguard the environment, to protect our children and to bolster consumer rights. Here's a look.
Strengthening Our Economy America's families and small businesses will benefit from the passage of the Jobs and Growth Act in 2003. Under this new law, 91 million taxpayers received, on average, a tax cut of $1,126.
Over the last two years, 109 million taxpayers have received, on average, a tax cut of $1,544. Some 23 million small business owners received tax cuts averaging $2,209. This new law accelerated the tax relief signed into law by the President in 2001, including marriage penalty relief, an increase in the child tax credit, and tax rate reductions for every family that pays Federal income taxes. It also provided new incentives for businesses, especially small businesses, to invest in plants and equipment and create new jobs.
Honoring Our Commitment to Veterans
America owes veterans and those on the front lines of freedom a great debt of gratitude. Congress passed legislation in 2003 that offered both retirement and disability pay (concurrent receipt) to many more veterans. We also approved the Military Family Tax Relief Act of 2003 to provide tax relief and other benefits to members of the armed services and their families.
Keeping America's Children Safe
In April, Congress passed the PROTECT Act which gives law enforcement additional tools to prevent, investigate and prosecute violent crimes against children. The bill strengthens child pornography laws and builds upon the steps already in place to expand, enhance and coordinate the successful AMBER Alert system across America. Legislation was also approved requiring states to conduct criminal background checks on prospective foster and adoptive parents.
Enhancing Consumer Credit Protections
In November, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 was made law to ensure citizens are treated fairly when they apply for credit. Consumers will have the right to receive their credit reports free of charge beginning later this year. In addition, the legislation creates important new tools to address the growing problem of identity theft by establishing a nationwide fraud alert system.
Establishing a "Do Not Call" Registry
On June 27, 2003, the national "Do Not Call" Registry was put into effect. Over 54 million phone numbers have been registered on the national list, protecting millions of Americans from most unwanted telephone solicitations.
Protecting and Preserving the Environment
Last month, President Bush signed into law bipartisan legislation to improve forest health and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires while upholding environmental laws, restoring our nation's forests, and preserving the forest economy.
Promoting a Culture of Life President Bush signed legislation to end the abhorrent practice of partial birth abortion, a late-term abortion procedure that offends human dignity and is not accepted by the medical community.
The Department of Justice is vigorously defending the new law in court.
To be sure, 2004 will be equally challenging as Congress continues the work of making America safer while providing the means for renewing prosperity in our communities.