REPUBLICAN STUDY COMMITTEE -- (House of Representatives - March 14, 2007)
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to come to the floor this evening and to talk about something that is of tremendous importance to the American people, and today, we have introduced an American Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
This is something that we have had talk. We have had a lot of conversation. We have heard from constituents around the country who have said, you know what, we do not like the size of government. We do not like how it has grown. We do not like how government seems to be out of control. We do not like how the Democrats always seem to support the government elitists. We know that we need to have somebody there fighting for the American taxpayer, fighting for the American family, so that when they sit down to work out their budget, when they sit down to look at the family finances, they can be assured that somebody is thinking about them when they take the votes that are going to affect us, to affect the Federal Tax Code and to affect how the American family lives and works and hopes and dreams and plans, how they make their plans for college education, how they make their plans for small businesses, how they make their plans for building a nest egg and a retirement.
So we have the American Taxpayer Bill of Rights that was introduced today by the fiscally responsible Republican Study Committee, and this is something that we have brought on. Some of our colleagues are going to join us tonight and talk about this issue, talk about the legislation that we have brought forward, and that we will bring forward through the next several months and talk about the proposals and the principles that we have laid forth today.
Now, if my colleagues want to find out more about the American Taxpayer Bill of Rights, I would encourage them to go to the Web site which is house.gov/hensarling/rsc, and you can e-mail the Republican Study Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. That is the way to stay in touch with us, and as we talk about the principles that are embodied in the taxpayer bill of rights, we want to hear not only from our colleagues that are here in the House but from our constituents all across America, from people who want to weigh in on making certain that this Nation stays focused on preserving freedom, on preserving free enterprise, that we stay focused on making certain that America is a prosperous Nation.
Now, our components, we have four simple principles that we have introduced into the American Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and I am certain, Mr. Speaker, that people that are listening to this say I think I have heard about a bill of rights in my State; I think I have heard this before. Many of our States have because many of our States know they need to be responsible with the taxpayers' money, and that is one of the first lessons.
The money that we have here in Congress is not government's money. It is not the money of the House of Representatives. It is the money of the taxpayers of this great Nation. They are the ones that have earned that money. They are the ones that have paid their taxes.
Most of my constituents in Tennessee will tell me regularly, Congress does not have a revenue problem; they have got lots of money and they are right. For the past 2 years, this government has brought in more tax revenue than ever in history. We have had more revenue come in. The problem is government has a spending problem. Government has such an appetite, it never gets enough of your money.
Now, my colleagues across the aisle like to talk about how there is all this waste and how there is all this fraud and how there is all this abuse, and you know what, they are right on that, because over the past 60 years there has been this huge, enormous bureaucracy that they have built. The bureaucracy of the Federal Government that exists in this town is pretty much a monument to the Democrats. They like it. They like bureaucracy.
They did not have control of this House for 2 days before they increased spending, and within 2 weeks they had increased taxes on the American middle class and American working families. Two days to increase the spending, so that they could feed this bureaucracy, so that they could grow this bureaucracy; and 2 weeks to increase taxes on the American middle class and the American family, men and women that are working and seeing their taxes go up. Last week, I think it was $17.9 billion that they increased spending.
So their habits have not changed. They are going to continue to feed the bureaucracy, to see that bureaucracy waste money, to see that bureaucracy grow because that is the way they like it.
What we are going to do in the fiscally responsible Republican Study Committee is put the focus on the American family and on the American taxpayer and be certain that they know we are defending their rights.
One of those is to limit Federal spending to the growth of the American family budget. Now, this is a great idea that we have taken from many of our States.
In Tennessee when I was in the State Senate, when you look at our State Constitution, you cannot grow spending in that State more than the growth of the budget. You have got to be certain that you balance that out. So what we are saying is, if we have per capita income growth of 3 percent or 4 percent, then you cap your Federal growth spending at 3 percent or 4 percent. You cannot be growing it 8 or 9. You cannot keep up with that. There is no way to make those numbers work unless you go into deficit spending.
Our friends across the aisle love to rail about deficit spending. Well, how did we get there? They grew a government so big, with entitlements so wide, that every year they come here and it is always a little more and a little more. Let us spend a little bit more, and a little bit adds up to a lot, and a lot adds up to a deficit, and a deficit adds up to a debt.
So limit what the Federal Government is going to spend, get in behind some of these programs that have outlived their usefulness.
Every year we bring forward programs that have outlived their usefulness. Every year we talk about programs that need to be reduced. Every single year we talk about ways to find waste, fraud and abuse. It is time for this body to have the will and the energy to begin to reduce spending.
Mr. Speaker, for all the rhetoric that comes out from some of the liberal elites who want to pad and grow the bureaucracy and some of those organizations that benefit from the bureaucracy, you do not hear them talking much about the Deficit Reduction Act that this House passed and was the budget for 2006. The Deficit Reduction Act included a 1 percent across-the-board reduction in discretionary spending.
Lo and behold, that yielded a $40 billion savings. Well, now, those on the left wanted to cry, oh, $40 billion is not enough. It is a mere drop in the bucket. It is not even a good start. Their solution was to go out and propose several hundred billion dollars' worth of spending amendments that would increase spending.
That is how they wanted to reduce it. Not reduce what we were spending, just maybe reposition some money and spend a little more.
So we want to be certain, the Republican Study Committee, with our fiscally responsible premises, let's limit it. Let's not let this Federal budget grow more than the family budget.
Another of our premises is to ensure that our Social Security remains secure. I think it is absolutely appalling that every year the Federal Government spends the surplus from Social Security, every single year. Every single year it goes into the general fund.
We have a plan we are going to bring forward, and we are going to see several different plans on this. Move it off budget, don't spend it, make certain that it is there for our seniors when they are ready to retire.
Commonsense tax reforms: We have a plan for sunsetting the Tax Code, and as we sunset that Tax Code on January 1 of 2011, let's begin now and have a debate. Do we want a flat tax? Do we want a fair tax? How do we want to reduce what the taxpayer spends? How do we want to reduce the tax burden?
You know, one of my colleagues was down here a little bit earlier and was talking about how difficult things are for working families, how difficult things are for moms and dads who are working and trying to make ends meet, and where they could go for help. You know the best place they could go for help? The best place to go for help is right at your kitchen table when you can look there at the papers in front of you and say, we have seen our taxes reduced by 15 percent, by 20 percent, by 25 percent.
There is no need for nearly 50 percent of everybody's income to end up going to taxes at the local, State and Federal level. It is time to roll that back. Give people first right of refusal on the money that they earn in their paycheck.
Our fourth premise is to make certain that we have a balanced budget amendment, another great idea that has come from our States. Many of our States have balanced budget amendments, many of our cities and county governments have balanced budget amendments. You cannot go into deficit spending. The Federal Government needs to adopt that practice.
At this time, I would like to yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hensarling), who is chairman of the Republican Study Committee, for his comments on the American Taxpayer Bill of Rights that was introduced today.
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