COMMITTEE on WAYS and MEANS

Chairman Dave Camp

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Camp Floor Statement: “Tax Hike Prevention” Agreement

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Washington, Dec 16, 2010 | comments

Washington, DC – Ways and Means Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI) today delivered a statement on the House floor in support of the Tax Hike Prevention Agreement. Below are excerpts, followed by the full statement.

The choice lawmakers face
“This House – the people’s House – has a simple choice to make today.  Raise taxes on families and small businesses or prevent a massive, job-killing tax increase from going into effect a mere 16 days from now…If you believe we should stop this massive tax increase in its tracks– especially when unemployment is stuck at nearly 10 percent – then vote yes.”

To those who want to wait until next year
“It is irresponsible to play a game of chicken with the Senate and the White House next year while middle-class Americans are literally forced to pay $100 a week more in taxes and are forced to suffer even greater job losses.  If this bill fails today, that is what will happen.  Paychecks and jobs will burn while Washington fiddles… Americans are suffering through the deepest and longest recession since the Great Depression.  This is not time for political speeches or electoral posturing.  This is a time to act responsibly, to do what is right and to vote yes.”

On the inclusion of unpaid-for UI extension
“By no means is this bill perfect.  For example, I think we should have paid for the extension of unemployment insurance.  And, frankly, we will. I am committed to producing legislation next year to revamp, reform and pay-for the Federal unemployment benefits our nation provides.  We should not have to choose between adding to the deficit and providing this important help.  But, we cannot allow that single concern to hold this bill up. Time has run out.  This is our only chance and the harm to our economy and the hit families would suffer is far too great to risk.”

This is a bill is narrowly focused on long-standing tax policy
“Let’s be clear – this is a bill about taxes – long standing tax policy for that matter – and preventing a tax hike.  It isn’t about spending.  Over 90 percent of this bill is tax policy – and that policy is aimed at preventing a tax hike for families and employers or providing direct tax relief to American workers…Members should also know and the American people should know that this bill does not contain “new” policy.  New provisions were not snuck in late at night or behind closed doors.  We took a firm stand against new policy.  As a result, over 70 provisions – some of them my own – were excluded from this bill – well over $100 billion worth.”

What this will mean for tax reform down the line
"And, if you are interested in fundamental tax reform – getting rid of exemptions, deductions and loopholes that complicate our code – then vote yes, because this bill gives us the time we need to rewrite the tax code, cut spending next year and get our economy back on track.”

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This House – the people’s House – has a simple choice to make today.  Raise taxes on families and small businesses or prevent a massive, job-killing tax increase from going into effect a mere 16 days from now. 

If you think our economy can handle higher taxes, if you think middle-class families should lose roughly $100 per week out of their paychecks then vote NO today.  Make no mistake about it, a no vote today is a vote for higher taxes, taxes that would devastate families and send shockwaves throughout our economy.

If you believe we should stop this massive tax increase in its tracks– especially when unemployment is stuck at nearly 10 percent – then vote yes;

If you want to be sure we don’t extend the failed “Making Work Pay” policy from the failed stimulus law that has the IRS writing checks to people who pay no income or payroll taxes, then vote yes;

If you are opposed to the federal government taking more than half of a family farm or business due to a death, then vote yes;

And, if you are interested in fundamental tax reform – getting rid of exemptions, deductions and loopholes that complicate our code – then vote yes, because this bill gives us the time we need to rewrite the tax code, cut spending next year and get our economy back on track. 

I know some of my friends want to wait until January when Republicans are back in the majority because they think we can get a better deal.  That is as misguided as it is politically callous.  Let me be blunt:

It is irresponsible to play a game of chicken with the Senate and the White House next year while middle-class Americans are literally forced to pay $100 a week more in taxes and are forced to suffer even greater job losses.  If this bill fails today, that is what will happen.  Paychecks and jobs will burn while Washington fiddles. 

If that is your stance, then I ask: “What better deal could we get?”  People talk about making the tax rates permanent – that’s something I support; something every Republican in this House supports.  But how does waiting until January, February, March, April or May make that a reality? 

The Senate voted yesterday on the DeMint amendment, which would have made the rates permanent, and it failed 37 to 63.  Last time I looked, we didn’t pick up 23 seats in the Senate.  And, the President has flatly refused to sign such legislation into law. 

So, again, tell me: how do we get a better deal by waiting?  It makes no sense to gamble with the American people’s jobs and the very paychecks they rely on to put food on the table and to keep the house warm this winter.

Americans are suffering through the deepest and longest recession since the Great Depression.  This is not time for political speeches or electoral posturing.  This is a time to act responsibly, to do what is right and to vote yes.

Employers are begging us to pass this legislation.  Small businesses and the National Federation of Independent Business are supporting the bill because they know they cannot afford a tax hike. 

The Business Roundtable, which represents the largest employers in the country with over 12 million employees, is supporting this bill because they know the economy cannot afford a tax hike.
 
The U.S. Chamber is supporting this legislation because they know we cannot afford a tax hike. 

The National Association of Manufacturers is supporting this legislation. 

Economists across the spectrum – from the far left to the far right – are supporting this legislation, and so should the Members of this House.

By no means is this bill perfect.  For example, I think we should have paid for the extension of unemployment insurance.  And, frankly, we will. 

I am committed to producing legislation next year to revamp, reform and pay-for the Federal unemployment benefits our nation provides.  We should not have to choose between adding to the deficit and providing this important help.  But, we cannot allow that single concern to hold this bill up.  Time has run out.  This is our only chance and the harm to our economy and the hit families would suffer is far too great to risk.

Let’s be clear – this is a bill about taxes – long standing tax policy for that matter – and preventing a tax hike.  It isn’t about spending.  Over 90 percent of this bill is tax policy – and that policy is aimed at preventing a tax hike for families and employers or providing direct tax relief to American workers. 
It also protects family farms, ranches and businesses from being hit by a destructive “Death Tax” that will go as high as 55 percent next year.  Instead, this bill reduces that rate to 35 percent while increasing the exemption amount from $1 million to $5 million. 

Now, I know $1 million sounds like a lot of money – and it is.  But think about the family farmers in your districts, think about the cost of the big machinery it takes to operate and manage their lands – some of the combines I see every day in my district cost a quarter-million dollars each!  That isn’t cash in the bank; that is equipment in the field and the federal government has no right to take half of it when mom or dad passes on.  While I support a total repeal of the Death Tax, at least this bill makes significant improvements to the Estate and Gift taxes, and it deserves our support.

Members should also know and the American people should know that this bill does not contain “new” policy.  New provisions were not snuck in late at night or behind closed doors.  We took a firm stand against new policy.  As a result, over 70 provisions – some of them my own – were excluded from this bill – well over $100 billion worth. 

The most notable of those provisions we terminated were from the failed stimulus bill, like the refundable Making Work Pay credit, the Build America Bonds program (which simply subsidized state and local governments going deeper into debt), and grants-in-lieu of the Low-Income Housing Credit.  None of that is in here. 

Nor are there the usual Washington “Christmas tree” ornaments.  This bill is narrowly focused on tax and unemployment policy.  Unlike the omnibus Democrats are preparing, there are no earmarks like $2 million for an Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin; there isn’t $3.5 million to study subterranean termites in New Orleans; and, there certainly isn’t an extra one-billion dollars for the new job-killing health care law.

My friends, the election is over.  Let’s not start the next campaign here today.  Let us make the right choice.  Let us stop this tax hike from going into effect in two weeks.  Let us put our constituents’ jobs before our own.  Let’s show the American people we can govern and that we can take yes for an answer.  So, let’s pass this bill with broad bipartisan support, as the Senate did yesterday by a vote of 81 to 19. 

I urge my colleagues to vote yes and reserve the balance of my time.

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