Press Releases

Lee: American People Shouldn’t Have To Pay For The Mess Congress Created

Tax Increases will Kill Jobs and Damage the Economy

Jul 18 2012

tax floor speech

WASHINGTON – Today, Lee warned of the consequences of letting the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire and spoke of the impact on families and businesses from massive tax increases.

“On Monday we heard from Democrats who insist that Congress must now raise taxes of the American people. In fact, they're so committed to this task that they're willing to take the country off the fiscal cliff in order to get their way,” Lee said.

“Congress has proven time and time again that the money it takes from the American people, from hardworking taxpayers, isn't always spent carefully. In fact, it's been spending more than it takes in for so long people almost can't remember a time when Congress routinely balanced its budget…[T]his is not the fault of the American people. And the job of fixing it lies right here in Congress,” he said.

“I'd argue that there is a certain irony in the president's proposal to increase taxes on some Americans while leaving the necessary tax relief in place for others. While purporting to help hardworking Americans, this approach would actually have the opposite effect, hurting many of those Americans who can least afford the hit right now.

“These are people who are living paycheck to paycheck. These are not C.E.O.s, these are not the top 1%. These are hardworking Americans that cannot afford to lose a job. We can't let a tax hike bring about that kind of terrible consequence.”

 

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See Sen. Lee’s full remarks below:

LEE: On Monday we heard from Democrats who insist that Congress must now raise taxes of the American people. In fact, they're so committed to this task that they're willing to take the country off the fiscal cliff in order to get their way.

This is unfortunate. It's unnecessary and it's a course of action that we cannot pursue. Mind you, they're not trying to pursue comprehensive tax reform. No, they're not trying to fix this byzantine era of tax code, which occupies tens of thousands of pages. What they're doing instead is just to raise taxes right now so that they can get their way right now, so that they can cover their shortfall that exists right now because of a chronic failure by Congress over time to set and stick to spending priorities

Well, the vast majority of Republicans are committed not to raise taxes, not on anyone, and there are some very good reasons for this.

First, the federal government has proven its inadequacy in this area. Congress has proven time and time again that the money it takes from the American people, from hardworking taxpayers, isn't always spent carefully. In fact, it's been spending more than it takes in for so long people almost can't remember a time when Congress routinely balanced its budget. This is a problem. And it's a problem that shouldn't be fixed by taxing the same people who are already paying this bill even more. Now this is not the fault of the American people. And the job of fixing it lies right here in Congress, not with the American people.

Second, from the C.B.O. to the I.M.F. to the Federal Reserve to Ernst & Young, experts around the world are warning of the dire economic consequences that await us if we raise taxes. And we cannot allow it to happen. We've had over $4 trillion added to the national debt during this president's administration. At the same time we've had unemployment exceeding 8% for the last 41 consecutive months. Nearly 13 million Americans are currently out of work and millions more are underemployed and looking for more work. We can't allow this to continue.

I'd argue that there is a certain irony in the president's proposal to increase taxes on some Americans while leaving the necessary tax relief in place for others. While purporting to help hardworking Americans, this approach would actually have the opposite effect, hurting many of those Americans who can least afford the hit right now. A new study from Ernst & young reveals he that this tax hike, a tax hike that hits some Americans but not others, would kill 710,000 jobs. These are people who can't afford to lose their jobs. These are people who are living pay heck to paycheck. These are not C.E.O.s, these are not the top 1%. These are hardworking Americans that cannot afford to lose a job. We can't let a tax hike bring about that kind of terrible consequence.

Now, Democrats will assure you that their tax hikes are all about reducing the deficit. That's curious because their proposal would leave 94% of this year's deficit intact, which makes it an inherently unserious proposal insofar as it relates to deficit reduction. Further, the president's own ten-year budget, which includes massive tax increases, by the way, still adds $11 trillion to the national debt.

Now, I really do appreciate the fact that the president is finally talking about these issues, issues that have long gone unaddressed and need to be addressed. But he can't look the American people in the eye and tell them he's doing something about the debt when his own budget, while raising taxes, nearly doubles our already sprawling national debt over the next ten years.

Republicans have proposals. We have proposals to reform the tax code, to reduce the deficit and to do so in ways that will grow the economy, not cause it to contract. I've got an amendment that I hope we'll get to consider in the next week or two that would permanently keep tax rates at their current levels so that American families and businesses can know what to expect. It would also eliminate the death tax and it would stop the expansion of the alternative minimum tax, which is quickly becoming the middle-income penalty tax. These measures and others would go a long way, a long way toward improving our economy and getting the American people back to work again.

If my friends on the other side of the aisle disagree, as is their right to do, then let's come together and work to find some common ground. But these election-year antics and distractions are not what the American people sent us here to do. And the longer we wait before enacting real reform, the worse the problem is going to get.