THE OFFICIAL TRUTH SQUAD
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Mr. PRICE of Georgia. Madam Speaker, thank you so very much.
Before I begin, I do want to just say that our hearts, our thoughts, and our prayers are with all at Virginia Tech and in Blacksburg, Virginia, today. As you know, Madam Speaker, an unspeakable horror visited their campus, and it is absolutely impossible for any of us to know what those who were directly connected to it are going through. We were so incredibly heartened by their convocation today as we watched it, and we noted that Hokie spirit is effervescent and incredibly supportive. We are all with the Hokie Nation today. We wish them the best and know that they are comforted by each other and by God's amazing grace.
Madam Speaker, it is a great privilege for me to come to the floor again this evening. I want to thank the leadership for the opportunity to share some comments and to discuss an issue that our friends just finished talking about a little bit.
This is a remarkable day every year. Madam Speaker, as you know, today is once again the day when Americans reach deep into their pockets and they pay Uncle Sam. Many Americans may be filling out their tax forms right now, or they have just finished slogging through the maze of the Tax Code jargon and crunching numbers and filling out form after form after form. And today, Americans all across this Nation will once again trust Washington with their money, because today is tax day. It is usually April 15; by a couple different factors it became April 17 this year. But nonetheless, Madam Speaker, it is tax day.
And I would suggest, Madam Speaker, that Americans are fed up with the status quo of today, and I and many of my colleagues believe that Americans deserve a different tomorrow. They deserve a tomorrow where they won't be taxed from the day they are born until the day that they die and at every single point in between.
Americans deserve a tomorrow where saving and investing are virtues, not vices. Americans deserve a tomorrow where taxation brings efficient and responsible representation, and they deserve a tomorrow where, when the American people do their part, they understand that paying their fair share is enough. And they deserve a tomorrow where the government respects their hard work and appreciates their sacrifice. Only then, Madam Speaker, will tomorrow be any different than today.
We are going to talk and discuss this evening the issue of taxes, the tax structure that we have in our Nation that supports so many, many things. We are going to talk about its fairness or lack of fairness. We are going to talk about the amount of money that is received and whether or not there are any options.
We are going to talk about positive solutions. And as we do so, we like, when we come to the floor, to talk about facts. I want to talk about facts. And I will remind my colleagues of one of our favorite quotes. One of my favorite quotes comes from Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan who said that ``Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but they are not entitled to their own facts.'' And so it is, Madam Speaker, that as we come and talk about facts as they relate to taxes, it is important that we use correct figures, that we use accurate figures.
One of the figures that I ran across when looking at the tax issue and realizing how large our government has grown and how many taxes the Washington government takes, in 2005 the Federal Government took in about $2.4 trillion. That is an awful lot of money, Madam Speaker, and it is sometimes hard to kind of get your arms around what that actually means. Well, in a relatively short period of time, less than 50 years, what that means, based upon accounting for inflation and accounting for growth, is that that amount of money is larger than the entire U.S. economy was in 1959. So in less than one person's lifetime we have grown the amount of tax revenue, and this is in constant dollars, real dollars, we have grown the amount of tax revenue larger than our entire government was and the economy was in 1959. So it is truly remarkable.
And what that brings about, Madam Speaker, is that we ought to be, as representatives of the people, asking questions. Is that appropriate? Is that an appropriate policy for our Nation? Should we be modifying things? Should we be changing things? Should we be potentially more fair to the American people? What should we be doing?
And so we will be joined tonight by a number of colleagues. One of my good friends and fellow colleagues from Georgia is Congressman Phil Gingrey. Congressman Gingrey is a fellow physician, represents a district right outside of the city of Atlanta. I served with him in the State senate, and it is a privilege to serve with him here in the United States Congress. He is one of the true fiscal conservatives, an individual who understands and appreciates the importance of tax revenue, yes, but also the importance of fairness on the part of our Federal Government.
So I am pleased to welcome my good friend from Georgia, Congressman Gingrey.
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Mr. PRICE of Georgia. I thank my good friend and colleague from Georgia for your comments, for your perspective, and for the truth and the facts that you bring to the table, and you mentioned a number of them. I would just like to highlight two of them because they are incredibly important, Madam Speaker, for the American people to appreciate. The first is that Tax Freedom Day. We talk about tax day, but Tax Freedom Day has yet to arrive. Depending on what State you are in, I think the earliest State, Tax Freedom Day is April 22, which is next week. But what that means, Madam Speaker, is that every single American who has been working since the first of the year, on average, every single one, is continuing to work from January 1 until now, through at least April 22 to pay the taxes that they owe. They haven't even started to work for themselves or their family. Madam Speaker, that is a tax system that is broken and flawed.
The other fact that you brought out, my good friend from Georgia, Congressman Gingrey brought out, was that the proposal that was passed on this floor just a little over two weeks ago by our friends on the other side of the aisle, many of whom call themselves Blue Dogs. We are checking to make certain, Madam Speaker. We think they are probably lap dogs because of the bills that they have been supporting. And one of them was this budget that was passed that will result in a $400 billion tax increase for the American people, the largest tax increase in the history of the Nation. That is a fact.
I want to mention a couple of other facts and then call on a couple of other good friends who have joined me this evening. Oftentimes, Madam Speaker, you hear people say, well, the wealthy in this Nation don't pay any taxes, or they get a remarkable tax benefit, that they are given favored treatment. You hear that oftentimes by our friends on the other side.
This chart, Madam Speaker, really points out the truth. These are actual numbers and actual facts. And that is that the top 1 percent of wage earners in this Nation, the top 1 percent, pay 36.9 percent of the taxes. That is, the top 1 percent pay 36.9 percent of the taxes. If you take the top 10 percent of wage earners in this Nation, the taxes that they pay, the total revenue that they pay in terms of taxes for this Nation, 68.2 percent. And the top half, the top 50 percent pay 96.7 percent of the tax revenue that comes into this Nation. Madam Speaker, that is a fact. It is important to appreciate that because our good friends on the other side of the aisle so often want to play class warfare. They want to pit one side against the other. And what this shows very, very clearly is that individuals all across this Nation are paying their fair share and then some.
I have been joined by many good friends who will comment about various aspects of our tax system and tax policy, as well as the budget that has been proposed. And right now I would like to ask a good friend from Texas to join me, and look forward to his comments, Congressman Kevin Brady from Texas, who has a wonderful business background and appreciates the importance of appropriate government policy and making certain that we allow all Americans, all Americans, the greatest opportunity in this wonderful Nation. Congressman Brady, thanks so much for joining us.
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Mr. PRICE of Georgia. I thank the gentleman from Texas for his wonderful summary of the remarkable taxes that each and every one of us are exposed to on a daily basis, everything we do. And that is why I say that the American people deserve more than that. They deserve a government that is more fair than that, especially in the area of taxation. The $2,700 for each individual in Texas is about what they would pay, if the policies of the other side go through, about what they would pay in the State of Georgia as well. And the folks have a lot of ability to figure out what they ought to do with that money and a greater priority that they ought to do with that money, as opposed to what the government ought to do with that money. So as most people understand and appreciate, they know how to spend their money better than the Federal Government.
And somebody mentioned earlier today that the Federal Government, whenever they do anything on behalf of the American people, it costs three times as much as it would in the private sector. So that even gets to the point more about what the facts of the situation are and why they belie what we are doing, why they would draw anyone to the appropriate conclusion that we are taxed too much as a Nation.
I have got a few other folks who have joined me, and I appreciate it so much. And I am joined by my good friend from North Carolina, Congressman McHenry, who also is an individual who has served in the State legislature and knows well the importance of fiscal responsibility and the importance of making certain that we don't overtax our Americans all across this Nation. I welcome you. I look forward to your comments.
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Mr. PRICE of Georgia. Madam Speaker, I thank my friend from North Carolina and I appreciate his perspective. And I think he said a couple of important things. One was that he pointed out that the average American spends almost 40 hours preparing his or her taxes. That is one whole week's worth of work. That is 2 percent of the productive time of each and every American spent just on the unproductive activity of preparing their tax returns. If that doesn't scream for reform, Madam Speaker, I am not sure what does.
I am pleased to be joined by another good friend, a new Member of Congress, a freshman Member from Tennessee, Congressman David Davis, who I know has run a business and understands the importance of the economy's being vibrant, of the appropriate level of taxes not just for businesses but for individuals.
And I appreciate your joining us tonight and look forward to your comments.
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Mr. PRICE of Georgia. I thank my friend from Tennessee for his eloquent comments and for really bringing perspective to the issue.
It really befuddles me as to how our friends on the other side of the aisle can say that they need to raise taxes to raise revenue, because if you look at this chart, Madam Speaker, what you appreciate is that as revenues were going down in the early part of this decade, what the solution was, as it is always a solution, is to lower taxes and you allow people to keep more of their hard-earned money. You put more money back in the pockets of American people and what happens? The economy flourishes, and lo and behold we have a record $2.4 trillion of revenue to the Federal Government because of decreased taxes.
I am so proud to be joined by my good friends tonight to talk about this issue. And we are pleased to welcome once again Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee, an individual who also knows and appreciates the importance of fiscal responsibility and the importance that allowing individuals to keep more of their hard-earned money means to their own freedom and their own liberty. I welcome you and look forward to your comments this evening.
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Mr. PRICE of Georgia. I brought along a number of charts. And we are not getting to a lot of them, but some of them we will.
This chart is an important one because this shows the mandatory spending growth, something I like to coin actually ``automatic spending growth'' because it is not mandatory. The Federal Government has determined that that is where we are going to spend money. And it automatically increases. These are the automatic programs, which are basically Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; and unless they see reforms, what we will have seen from 1995 to 2017 is an increase from 48.7 percent to 62.2 percent of our economy.
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Mr. PRICE of Georgia. This chart really points that out, ``Ignoring Entitlement Reform,'' which is exactly what occurred 2 1/2 weeks ago when our friends passed our budget.
When the Republicans were in charge, with the Balanced Budget Act we passed in 1987 we saved nearly $130 billion. With the Deficit Reduction Act just a few short years ago in 2005, about $40 billion. With the budget that was adopted 2 1/2 weeks ago, none, zero. No entitlement reform. No automatic spending reform. And consequently, what you know and what I know is that we are on track to spend that 62.2 percent in a few very short years.
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Mr. PRICE of Georgia. I thank the gentlewoman for her perspective and for her passion for appropriate policies here out of Washington on behalf of the American people.
And you've heard a lot about what our friends on the other side of the aisle have proposed. And it is important to the look at the numbers, Madam Speaker, the numbers on what has been proposed by our good friends on the other side of the aisle when the clock strikes midnight on December 21, 2010.
They have proposed and they have enacted a budget that will result in increasing the ordinary income rates from 35 percent to 39.6 percent; increasing capital gains from 15 percent to 20 percent; increasing dividends from 15 percent to 39.6 percent; increasing estate taxes from zero percent to 55 percent; decreasing the child tax credit from $1,000 to $500; and, amazingly, increasing the lowest tax bracket from 10 percent to 15 percent. A remarkable $400 billion in new taxes, a remarkable display of, frankly, lack of appreciation and lack of respect for the American worker.
Now what is the solution? A lot of things can be done. What we would propose and have proposed is something that respects American values and I believe results in increasing American vision, and that is a taxpayer bill of rights, a Federal taxpayer bill of rights. Many folks will recognize the sound of that because there are some States around this Nation that have indeed enacted a taxpayer bill of rights. The problem at the State level, however, is that all they can address is State revenue, State money.
But, Madam Speaker, because of the actions of our friends on the other side of the aisle and because they want to dig deeper, we believe strongly that a taxpayer bill of rights is appropriate for the Federal Government. We believe that taxpayers have a right to a Federal Government that does not grow beyond their ability to pay for it. That means that the Federal Government ought not grow more than the population grows or more than the cost of living increases, and that can be put into law and that is what part of the taxpayer bill of rights does.
We also believe that Americans have a right to receive back every single dollar that they entrust to the American people for their retirement. That is the Social Security issue, Madam Speaker. Right now the Federal Government, right now Washington spends money that the American people send to Washington to cover for their Social Security compensation, and what does Washington do, oftentimes it spends it on other programs. That is not right and it is not fair. I hear about it when I am back home, and I suspect you do as well.
We believe taxpayers have a right to a balanced budget without raising taxes. You can balance the budget in one of two ways. You can raise taxes to try to increase revenue, which doesn't actually work, but you can have it work on paper. You can increase taxes and say, well, we will balance the budget that way, which is what our friends on the other side of the aisle have done. They say we will increase taxes $400 billion, and that is the way we will balance the budget.
Madam Speaker, there is another way you can balance the budget, and that is by decreasing spending, and that is what we would propose through a taxpayer bill of rights.
Fourth, we would propose fundamental and fair tax reform. My good friend from Texas mentioned earlier the proposal for a flat tax. That is one way to do it. I support the fair tax, the national retail sales tax, something that would do away with the IRS, do away with that organization that so many Americans dread and results in so much pain and heartache on the part of the American people.
Finally, a taxpayer bill of rights that would require a supermajority for any increase in taxes for our Nation, something that was in effect until the very first day of this Congress when this new majority said, ``no,'' we ought not have a supermajority to increase taxes, we ought to let a simple majority do it which results in a huge opportunity for an increase in taxation and has resulted in, by this new majority, policies which will significantly increase taxes.
So, Madam Speaker, what we have done tonight is outlined the problem, outlined the history, talked about what kinds of solutions can be proposed and what we would propose in the way of an appropriate Federal taxpayer bill of rights.
I would like to close with a quote from Thomas Jefferson who had a perspective on taxation. He said: ``To take from one because it is thought his own industry has acquired too much, in order to spare others who have not exercised equal industry and skill is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.'' That was Thomas Jefferson, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker, each and every one of us is remarkably privileged to serve in this House of Representatives. It is an honor to represent my constituents, as I know each Member feels it is an honor to represent theirs. We live in a wondrous and glorious nation, the longest surviving democracy in the history of the world, a nation that has resulted in, because of its actions, more freedom and more prosperity for more individuals than any nation in the history of mankind.
It is commonsense and responsibility on behalf of the Members who represent all of the constituents across this Nation that have resulted in those policies. I, as I know my colleagues who have been here this evening, look forward to working with Members on both sides of the aisle to bring about that accountability and responsibility, and to bring about the kind of credit and honor to our constituents that they so richly deserve by their labor.
Madam Speaker, I look forward to making certain that we hold each other accountable to establish the kinds of policies that are appropriate and the kinds of policies that will result in the greatest amount of prosperity and freedom for future generations of Americans.