TAX INCREASE PREVENTION AND RECONCILIATION ACT OF 2005--CONFERENCE REPORT -- (Senate - May 11, 2006)
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Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise today to speak in opposition to the tax reconciliation conference report.
The Federal Government is the rare institution that can spend money it just doesn't have. We spend and we spend and when we don't take in enough to cover the bill, we just borrow from China and Japan and keep on spending.
Families would go bankrupt if they managed their budgets this way. Businesses would shut down. Most mayors and Governors would be thrown in jail. And yet Washington operates as if we can continue to get away with more of the same.
The reality is, we can't. To do so simply passes the burden to our children and grandchildren, while keeping us in debt to our major economic competitors.
By standard accounting rules, our Federal deficit last year rose to $760 billion, a figure that now makes our national debt more than $8.4 trillion.
Think of it this way: last year, the Federal Government spent more than it took in by about $2,500 for every single man, woman, and child in America. And that is on top of each household's $75,000 share of our national debt. That is a credit card bill and a second mortgage that most Americans didn't even know they had.
What is worse is that even these figures don't tell the full picture. The rising demands on Medicare and Social Security over the next 35 years will swallow up the Federal budget unless we adjust either the amount that is paid into the two trust funds or the amount that is paid out.
Sadly, there may be too much partisan rancor right now to address these long-term challenges. But, at the very least, what we can do right now is to stop making things worse. This bill doesn't do that. This bill makes things worse--much worse.
The $70 billion pricetag is just the start. Because we know that that number is just a gimmick to push this through--and we know that more tax cuts are coming in another bill that will push the real cost closer to $150 billion in new deficits.
But the most offensive part of this bill isn't even the pricetag. The most offensive part is where this tax relief is going. Because this money's not going to the working Americans who are already having trouble paying their medical bills and tuition bills and their mortgage payments and their taxes. Those middle-class Americans will get an average of $20 from this tax bill. Twenty dollars.
On the other hand, if you make more than a million dollars, well, this is the bill for you--because you will get an average of $42,000 in tax cuts--$42,000 in tax cuts for millionaires.
This bill is out of touch with the country's priorities. It makes the wrong choice for Americans over and over again. It makes America more vulnerable financially at a time when we need to be stronger. It enshrines tax breaks for oil companies yet leaves out the deduction of college tuition. It creates a huge tax break for wealthy savings yet leaves out the saver's credit to help moderate-income households save for retirement. It privileges the high incomes of wealthy investors yet leaves out tax credits that help employers hire people off welfare. It rushes to address the demands of big corporations out in 2009 yet fails to shield middle-class families from the outdated alternative minimum tax even through 2007.
Given our country's precarious budgetary situation, now is not the time for a $70 billion tax cut that will only push us deeper into debt. Before we embark on an expensive package of tax cuts or new spending initiatives--no matter how meritorious--we should insist upon sensible pay-as-you-go rules so that tax cuts and new spending are paid for today rather than passed along to our children and grandchildren.
You know, this place never ceases to amaze me. It amazes me that at this time in our country's history--a time when so many Americans are struggling to get by; a time when so many have lost faith in the idea of a government that looks out for their interests and upholds their values; a time when we continue to mortgage our future to bankers in China; at a time when all this is going on--we are debating a $70 billion tax bill that will give the wealthiest one-tenth of 1 percent of all Americans a tax cut that is more than 4 thousand times larger than most middle-class Americans will get.
If you are wondering why our approval ratings are in the tank, take another look at this bill. This is a bill that is neither responsible, nor fair, nor honest. It is not worthy of the people who sent us here, and it certainly doesn't help them. And so I urge my colleagues to vote against the conference report on tax reconciliation.
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