Mr. SCOTT of South Carolina. Madam Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentlewoman from New York (Ms. Slaughter), pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only.
Mr. SCOTT of South Carolina. House Resolution 747 provides for a structured rule for consideration of H.R. 8, a bill to extend the current tax rates for all Americans for 1 year; a structured rule for consideration of H.R. 6169, which provides a legislative path for true tax reform; and for other tools allowing the House to finish its business and continue to operate during the August district work period.
Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of this rule and the underlying bill.
Madam Speaker, why are we here today? My friends on the left will tell you that we are here today to discuss the issue of fairness in our Tax Code. I would agree. America is the land of opportunity. We believe that the worst possible thing you can do during a fragile recovery--that feels like a recession to me--is to increase taxes. Why? Because by increasing taxes, we jeopardize another 710,000 jobs, according to the experts, 710,000 jobs.
One of those jobs could be held by one of my constituents, a friend of mine named Joe Stringer. Joe Stringer is a middle class American, 62 years old. His wife is 67 years old and on Medicare. Joe doesn't make $250,000, Joe doesn't make $200,000, not even $150,000 or $100,000, but Joe does have dividend income, like 9 million seniors around this Nation who have dividend income.
And here is the interesting fact, Madam Speaker, when we hear the left talk about taxing the millionaires and the billionaires, here is the new definition: of those 9 million seniors who have dividend income, 68 percent of them have an income of less than $100,000, 40 percent have an income of less than $50,000. But my friends on the left would categorize these folks as a member of the rich, with their tax cuts being expired at the end of this year.
We are looking at an increase in the dividend tax rate of 185 percent for millions of Americans who are on fixed incomes. These folks aren't rich. They depend on their dividend income, and yes, with the actions of the left, we would see their dividend income tax responsibility and burden go up by 185 percent. This is definitely not right. It is definitely wrong.
Now this is on top of all the new taxes that we find as a part of the Affordable Care Act, another $804 billion of new taxes on Americans throughout this Nation. And in addition to that, Madam Speaker, under their proposal, we see the death tax going from 35 percent with a $5 million elimination to 55 percent. And for farmers, folks in agriculture, and for small businessowners, their wealth is not liquid. You would have to sell your land to pay these taxes. It's what we call a ``fire sale.''
So my friends on the left would punish people who work all their lives and come up with wealth to pass on to the next generation. But in this instance the taxes would go up significantly. And that's wrong.
In spite of the results of all the surveys--yesterday we had a survey done in my district that said that 61 percent of folks would like to see the 2001 and 2003--and, oh, by the way, 85 Members of the Democrats voted for these exact same tax cuts to stay in place in 2010. It was good in 2010; it's still good right now. Sixty-one percent of folks say let's extend these tax cuts for all Americans, and let's keep those 710,000 Americans who would lose their jobs employed.
But in addition to that, the environment that we're working in right now matters; it matters significantly. Because we have over 41 months--over 41 months, Madam Speaker--of unemployment over 8 percent. It's devastating. It's devastating, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker, I hope all of my colleagues will come together here today and realize that the time for political points should be over; that my colleagues would come together today and realize that the time for trying to divide Americans is over; that we would come together today, Madam Speaker, and realize that the time for punishing success is over.
In many ways, Madam Speaker, in many ways this debate today is about the very soul of who we are as Americans: Are we going to lift everyone up as one Nation, or are we going to push some down to bring everyone somewhere in the fuzzy middle in some misguided attempt to redefine fairness? Are we going to let the foundation of this Nation continue to crack, or are we going to strengthen it for another 200 years?
We encourage--I encourage--success in this Nation. We have to ensure our children can learn about America the same way all of us learned about the land of opportunity. That's fairness that I believe in.
Once again, Madam Speaker, I rise in support of this rule and the underlying legislation. I encourage my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the rule, ``yes'' on the underlying bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. I thank my colleague for yielding me the time, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Madam Speaker, under the rule before us today, we will choose between two starkly different visions for America. My Democratic colleagues and I are proposing a simple and fair tax cut for the middle class. This proposal has already passed the Senate. If passed by the House, the legislation could quickly become law. Our tax cut is based upon a simple premise--that it is time for the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share--no more. Their fair share.
Unfortunately, despite agreeing with the tax cuts proposed in our bill, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are standing in the way of the tax cut becoming law. Instead of passing a commonsense tax cut, the majority is demanding that any tax cut for the middle class be accompanied by an additional tax cut for the richest 2 percent. Their proposal is based upon the [Page: H5540]
disproved theory of trickle-down economics--a failed economic theory that has
led to record inequality and a broken Tax Code that is riddled with loopholes and giveaways to the wealthy.
For decades, our tax system has been tilted in favor of the wealthy and big corporations--a rigged system that isn't working for most Americans. As just one example, between 2008 and 2010, 30 profitable Fortune 500 companies paid absolutely nothing in Federal taxes, and many more companies and wealthy individuals avoid paying taxes by sheltering the money in bank accounts overseas.
This stands in sharp contrast to other moments in American history. In the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s--a 30-year period that saw the creation of the middle class and the realization of the American Dream--top income tax rates often reached levels we wouldn't even dream of today. But despite these tax rates, we saw incredible economic growth and the creation of the strongest middle class on Earth.
The middle class grew, in part, because we did not allow the most successful members of our society to dodge their responsibility as American taxpayers. In years since, we've witnessed a purposeful and concerted effort by some to undermine the notion of shared responsibility, which this government was based on. In years since, we've witnessed a purposeful and concerted effort to undermine that. Starting with Reaganomics in the 1980s, a new theory pervaded American politics--a belief that our
focus should really be on helping corporations and the wealthy in hopes that they might in return help some of us.
Many on the other side of the aisle subscribed to this idea and believed that by providing for the powerful interests first, success would trickle down onto the middle class. What we now know is the theory is simply not true. Today, America is increasingly unequal, millions of jobs have been shipped overseas, and the middle class has been gutted. These results are strong evidence that trickle-down economics have completely and utterly failed.
In 2001, President Bush proposed a series of unpaid-for tax cuts that exploded our deficit and put millions of dollars directly into the pockets of the richest families in America, and that's where we are today. At the same time, President Bush claimed that these tax cuts would create jobs. And Vice President Cheney told us not to worry about the cost to our Nation because ``deficits don't matter.'' A decade later, we can see that President Bush and Vice President Cheney couldn't have been more
Under President Bush, our deficit exploded to record levels; and according to FactCheck.org, he created only 1.1 million jobs. In contrast, President Clinton erased our deficit through a balanced tax plan and created 23 million jobs--quite a difference--which brings us back to the legislation that we are considering today.
Today, the majority proposes that we continue failed policies by extending the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent. Doing so, Madam Speaker, would cost us nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years, it would force us to continue borrowing billions of dollars from China, and would force us to make cuts in vital programs like Medicare and student loans.
To continue the failed status quo is a disservice to the American people that we represent. It is high time that we start making our Tax Code fair for those who work hard and play by the rules--not just the wealthy who lobby hard and rewrite the rules. We can do that by passing a simple and fair tax cut for the middle class today.
Unlike the proposal from the majority, the Democratic proposal to cut taxes for the middle class is something that both sides already agree on. The majority's strategy of holding middle class tax cuts hostage in exchange for tax cuts for the top 2 percent is outrageous, and it must end.
Far too often, the majority has pursued a partisan and zero-sum ideology that has led this Congress down dead-end roads. We've seen it over and over again, whether it's the majority's proposal to end Medicare as we know it, or their inability to avoid a downgrade--the first in our Nation's history--in our credit. Unfortunately, their proposal today is yet another partisan piece of legislation that will never become law. Indeed, the President has already said that he will veto the majority's proposal
if it ever reaches his desk.
When faced with these two starkly different proposals--one, a noncontroversial and commonsense tax cut for the middle class; the other, a partisan tax cut to benefit the richest 2 percent--it's clear what we should do.
I urge my colleagues to provide a fair and simple tax cut to all Americans--because the rich will benefit too--while standing up for the financial security and prosperity of the middle class. Why would we continue a program we know has failed?
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SCOTT of South Carolina. Madam Speaker, I just want to make sure that I note once again, reinforce the fact, that this 1-year extension that we are suggesting on the right is in fact an extension of not only the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, but also the tax cuts that passed this House in 2010 in a bipartisan fashion.
There is no doubt that an action not to extend these tax cuts is actually increasing taxes on many people in this Nation.
And, in fact, if we do extend these tax cuts, what we are actually doing is allowing current tax law to stay in place. But if we don't do that we are talking about 9 million seniors, 68 percent of whom make less than $100,000, seeing their dividend income go up in taxation by 185 percent. That's the middle class.
We're talking about how the marriage penalty will place a $591 higher tax on over 88 million families. That's the middle class. We're talking about a reduction in the child tax credit that will pose a $1,028 tax hike on 31 million families. This looks like to me that my friends on the left are willing to tax the middle class and the poor.
Madam Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Trey Gowdy.
Mr. GOWDY. Madam Speaker, I want to thank my good friend and colleague, Tim Scott. And I was in rapt attention when he was talking. It was almost as if he stole my thoughts. But I don't mind because he's a member of the freshman class.
And many of us in the freshman class, Madam Speaker, we weren't here in December of 2010 when this body last decided to extend the tax cuts for all Americans, not some of them, but all Americans, 18 months ago. So you can imagine, Madam Speaker, how intrigued we are by the debate on the other side.
We're also intrigued at the number of our colleagues who, not 18 months ago, decided it would be bad economics to raise taxes on any American, which leads me to wonder, were the rules not fair 18 months ago? I know that's the campaign slogan, that everybody has to play by the rules and everybody should pay their fair share.
Were the rules not fair 18 months ago? Was everybody not paying their fair share 18 months ago? Because heaven knows they voted for it 18 months ago. Which got me wondering, Madam Speaker, what's different today than it was 18 months ago?
Well, maybe the economy's better off. Maybe that's the explanation. And then I saw, well, gas prices are higher and milk prices are higher and bread prices are higher and inflation is higher, which is the most insidious of all taxes, and people's purchasing power is down. So, no, that couldn't be why they changed their minds. It can't be because people are better off, because they're not.
So then I thought, Madam Speaker, well, maybe it's because government has become a better steward of the tax dollars that we do give them. Maybe government's spending the money better. And then I thought, well, no, we've had Solyndra and we've had Abound, and we've had a failed stimulus plan, and we've had a GSA scandal, so no, it couldn't possibly be that we're spending the money wiser.
So why in the world, Madam Speaker, would so many of our colleagues who just 18 months ago thought the rules were just fine and that 35 percent was enough to pay, why in the world would they change their mind in the course of just 18 months?
And then it dawned on me, Madam Speaker. It dawned on me while I was [Page: H5541]
listening to the President tell our fellow Americans you didn't build that, and promising more flexibility in a second term, that we're in the middle of a reelection campaign. It dawned on me, no, the economy's not better, and no, government's not spending its money better, but I have to have something to run on, so I'm going to pit one group of Americans against another group of Americans,
because God knows I can't run on my record.
So let's try the politics of bringing people down and perpetuating this myth that somehow pulling other people down makes me taller. Let's pit one group of
Americans against another group.
Madam Speaker, the economy is still struggling. Heavens knows it is. People are suffering.
If you want economic growth, why in the world are you talking about taking more money from people, even if you don't think they built it?
What has changed in the last 18 months other than the vicissitudes of a political cycle, Madam Speaker?
And then I got to thinking, while Congressman Scott was talking, let's assume for the sake of argument, Madam Speaker, that we do what they want us to do. Go ahead and raise it to 39 percent. It may be 39 this time. How about 50? If you didn't build it, how about take half of it?
What about 60 percent, Madam Speaker? If you didn't build it, take 60 percent of it. Where does it stop?
Mr. GOWDY. What the Democrats want to do, Madam Speaker, is bad citizenship. It is bad economics. It is bad for our fellow Americans. It remains to be seen if it's good electioneering or not. That remains to be seen.
But duplicity is duplicity, no matter what the calendar says.
Ms. DeLAURO. I would just like to remind the previous speaker that 18 months ago there was a Republican majority in this House that made a determination to bring this Nation to its knees and to shut down the government because they would not raise a debt ceiling and were holding the government hostage and the Nation hostage.
And quite frankly, that's what they're doing again today. And this time, it is about tax relief for working families and for middle class families. The duplicity is on the other side of the aisle, which always is trying to bring this body and this country to the precipice.
I rise in opposition to the House majority's tax plan. What it would do is raise taxes on 25 million middle class and working families, people with incomes below $250,000. Their taxes would go up by $1,000 each.
Why? In order to give another tax break to the rich.
The New York Times article just a few days ago said the Republicans will press to extend tax cuts for affluent families scheduled to expire on January 1. But the same Republican tax plan would allow a series of tax cuts for the working poor and for the middle class to end next year.
The Washington Post said, and I quote, ``Republicans want to raise taxes on the poor. Why?''
Why indeed. In order to pay for an over $160,000 tax break for millionaires. The plan would slash the Child Tax Credit, taking an average of $854 away from nearly 9 million families, pushing 2 million children back into poverty.
Ms. DeLAURO. It weakens the Earned Income Tax Credit, which kept 8.3 million people out of poverty last year--this as poverty rates head towards the highest levels in nearly half a century.
We all know there's a better way forward. The Senate has passed a plan, supported by the President, which cuts taxes for 98 percent of Americans, 97 percent of small businesses in the country. Rather than holding tax relief for the vast majority of American families and small businesses hostage to more tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent, let us take up that Senate bill.
I urge my colleagues to vote against the rule and this Republican Reverse Robin Hood tax plan, and support tax relief for the middle class.
Mr. SCOTT of South Carolina. Madam Speaker, I just want to make sure that we remember the facts as they are. There's no reason for us to so quickly revise history to meet our political objectives.
In 2010, this House, controlled by the Democrats, the Senate, controlled by the Democrats, and the White House, controlled by the Democrats, passed the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. So what we're talking about is a bipartisan piece of legislation that would continue the current tax law because the previous Congress, in a bipartisan fashion, decided that tax cuts were good for all Americans. And now we find ourselves, as Mr. Gowdy said, in the midst of a political season.
Madam Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Rich Nugent, the sheriff.
Mr. NUGENT. Madam Speaker, I want to thank my good friend and fellow Rules Committee member Tim Scott for allowing me to speak on this very important issue.
This rule does something that is decades overdue. It puts the Nation on a path to comprehensive tax reform. Achieving a fairer, simpler Tax Code isn't an easy goal, which is why we are considering today and tomorrow a multi-step process. First, we need to extend the current tax rate. This extension gives us a bridge, the time we need, to dig into the Tax Code and find a way to make it work for all Americans, not just some. Perhaps even more importantly, it stops the largest tax hike in history.
It's worth repeating: the largest tax hike in history.
Madam Speaker, this tax increase would threaten more than 700,000 American jobs, and for those folks lucky enough not to lose their jobs, it could very well lead to lower wages for them. If we don't act, the Democrats' tax increase will hit 53 percent--more than half--of all American small business income.
When I brought these small businesses up at the Rules Committee last night, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle responded to me and my questions by coming back with statistics, things that don't really matter much to anybody. Yet, when I talked about small businesses in my district--those folks making over $200,000 who are going to be impacted by this increase on taxes--it related to actual jobs, what they can create and what they may have to cut back on. These are real people, not some
statistics that somebody in some Washington think tank came up with. These are real people, real job creators in America. We are talking now about stifling that at a time when job growth in America is anemic at best.
My fellow speakers earlier talked about just that issue in regards to what has changed.
Mr. NUGENT. This is such an important issue, Madam Speaker. This is about the future of America. This is about how we move forward.
Ways and Means has had 20 committee hearings already on this issue. One of my favorites was on the Fair Tax, which is what we are talking about as we move forward--the ability of the American people to hear debate on this floor and in committee sessions through an open process in which we can amend laws or legislation that is going to come forward to this House. It is also the ability to get input from all of us--Democrats and Republicans alike--because it really is about where we are heading
as a Nation.
We talk about job creation. This is about job creation. This is about sustaining the current jobs that we have and about allowing American businesses and entrepreneurs to create more jobs. It's not some crazy idea. This is real America. These are businesses in my district.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. The real issue here today is: Are we going to continue something that we know utterly failed? More than 10 years ago, this deal was made with corporations that we would cut the tax rate and that they would produce jobs. We didn't get the jobs. Half of it didn't work. Why would a country as intelligent as ours want to continue that failed policy? We are at a critical crossroads here, and we had better this time get it right.
In that regard, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer), a member of the Committee on Ways and Means.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. I appreciate the gentlelady's courtesy.
She had it exactly right. We've gone down this path. We had an opportunity for us to see how effective the Bush tax cuts were in creating employment in America versus those high rates in the Clinton era, a couple of percentage points higher. Look at the job creation: 22 million jobs in the Clinton years when we were actually balancing the budget for 4 years in a row, reducing the deficit, versus anemic job creation in the Bush administration that was less than 5 percent of that.
We've tried it their way.
With all due respect, it's really hard to characterize what happened in 2010 as bipartisan legislation. The Republicans in the Senate refused to legislate. It was going to be that all the tax relief expired. A consensus was reached. A compromise was made to extend it. Hopefully, we could have worked things out, but we didn't. We're now right back in the same spot.
I would respectfully suggest that what we are looking at now with my Republican colleagues, when they talk about the largest tax increase in American history, is when you put the Republican-Romney bill in effect. If you are going to have that massive cut for the wealthiest of Americans, the only way you can make that deficit-neutral is by raising taxes on the other 95 percent. And you can quibble with some of the assumptions of the various independent experts, but they all agree: if you're going
to give people who make over $1 million an average of more than $100,000 in annual relief, you are going to be raising taxes on the 95 percent of the rest of America.
That's not right. It's not necessary. There are better alternatives, and you're going to hear it in the form of the Democratic alternative that's going to come forth later this afternoon.
Mr. WOODALL. I thank my colleague from South Carolina for yielding me the time.
I don't actually have the words for this debate, so I had to bring something with me, Madam Speaker. What I brought are the very words that President Obama spoke from right here behind me in his State of the Union address in 2011. As you'll remember, we had just done this thing that we had all agreed on. I say ``we.'' My colleague from South Carolina and I were not in Congress at the time. ``You.'' This thing that you agreed on with the President and with the Senate to not raise taxes on job
creators, why did you agree on that? Let's look and see what the President said.
We measure progress by the success of our people--by the jobs they can find and the quality of the jobs they can find. Opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children, that's a project the American people want us to work on together. We did that in December.
He was talking about when we came together to prevent the largest tax increase in American history from impacting Americans and the jobs they were seeking.
Here is what he said:
We did that in December. Thanks to the tax cuts that we passed, Americans' paychecks are bigger today. Businesses can write off the full cost of investments, and these steps taken by Democrats and Republicans will grow the economy and add more than 1 million private sector jobs.
That's why Ernst & Young says doing what the Democrats propose to do is going to kill 700,000 jobs. It's because, as the President said, doing what we all agreed on--doing what we are proposing to do here today--added 1 million jobs. That was from the President's address in 2011.
He went on. He talked about the parade of lobbyists who have rigged the Tax Code to benefit particular companies and industries.
Those with accountants and lawyers can work the system and pay no taxes at all, but the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change.
He's right, but the proposal that my friends on the Democratic side are bringing to the floor raises taxes on these small businesses that create jobs. The President knows that's not fair. He goes on.
He says, ``Tonight, I'm asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes,'' he says, ``level the playing field,'' he says, ``and use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years without adding to the deficit.''
That's what the President called on us all to do. That's what this rule that my friend from South Carolina allows us to do. That's what, if we're willing to put politics aside in this election year, we can do together as you did in 2010.
Madam Speaker, I will close with this. That was his 2011 address, and maybe you think that was just the enthusiasm of our cooperation there at the end of 2010, but it wasn't.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. I think I must say that 97 percent of small businesses in America will not be affected at all.
With that, I'm pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Andrews).
(Mr. ANDREWS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. ANDREWS. I thank my friend for yielding.
Madam Speaker, Americans who served on the school board or a parents council or the board of trustees, their fire company, that have ever had a dispute about what to do know that one of the ways to resolve the dispute is to say, Listen, let's take the things that we agree on and do them, and set aside the things in which we disagree and argue about them later. But let's agree [Page: H5543]
on the things we can do and get them done.
I think virtually every Member of this Chamber agrees that if a family makes less than a quarter of a million dollars a year, their taxes should not go up. Let's pass a bill that says that and then move on to the things on which we disagree.
Here is one of the things that we disagree on: The majority's bill that's on the floor raises taxes on 25 million Americans, and they are some of the Americans who least merit and deserve a tax increase. For example, an E4 corporal in the Marine Corps with 4 years of service, married and with two children sees his taxes go up by $448 a year under the Republican bill. Under the Democratic bill, that Marine's taxes do not go up. A military police sergeant, an E5 in the Air Force, who has 8 years
of service, with a spouse and three young children would see a tax increase of $1,118 a year.
How could this be?
In 2009, President Obama increased the earned income tax credit, which helps low-income people who work for a living, and he increased the child care credit, which is working people with children. We pay our marines, our Air Force, our Army, and our sailors a lot less than we should. They're very underpaid, and they take advantage of these tax breaks.
Mr. ANDREWS. The Democratic bill preserves these tax rules for working families, including members of the military; the Republican bill does not.
So I would urge my friends on both sides of the aisle to do the following: Let's oppose the rule that's on the floor, which gives us a chance to amend the bill. When we amend the bill, let's cancel out the tax increase on the Air Force sergeant of $1,118 and let's cancel out the tax increase on the Marine corporal of $448.
Mr. MILLER of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to take from the Speaker's table the concurrent resolution (S. Con. Res. 55) directing the Clerk of the House of Representatives to make a correction in the enrollment of H.R. 1627, and ask for its immediate consideration in the House.
The Clerk read the title of the concurrent resolution.
Mr. WELCH. I thank the gentlelady.
Madam Speaker, let's first of all define what these two bills are.
Number one, the Democratic bill would provide tax relief to 100 percent of Americans: 98 percent would get tax relief on every dollar of income; 2 percent would get tax relief on up to $250,000 of income. Above that, they would be going back to the Clinton rates.
The Republican bill would provide 100 percent of Americans tax relief, including those top 2 percent. At what cost? A trillion dollars added to the debt, number one. Number two, higher taxes on military folks and low-income folks who would be hammered by the tax increases in the Republican bill.
Why is that? There's two reasons:
One, the underlying philosophy behind the Republican bill is that trickle-down economics works. It is a proposition that says that the tax cuts that go to the 2 percent, the highest-income Americans--who don't need them--will benefit 98 percent of Americans who don't get them. There's absolutely no evidence to back that up. Secondly, there's a total doubling down on supply-side economics, trickle-down economics.
Our bill basically has two propositions:
Number one, if we're going to work ourselves out of the biggest recession that we've had since the Great Depression, we have to increase employment and we have to increase demand. That's why we've got to give purchasing power to the vast majority of [Page: H5544]
low-income and middle Americans. That's why we sustain the tax breaks that we've had in place since the Bush tax cuts were passed.
Number two, we have to pay down on the debt and have money to invest in things like infrastructure, science, and education. That's a trillion dollars that would be made available by going with the Democratic approach.
We've been here before, trickle-down economics versus middle class commitment.