Fiscal Responsibility Does Not Mean Tax Increases
Congressman Joe Pitts
Perhaps Congress' August recess was beneficial for taxpayers. Without lawmakers in Washington passing legislation to increase taxes further, August recess might be just what the doctor ordered for American families.
I believe fiscal irresponsibility was one of the reasons that voters handed control of Congress to Democrats to begin with. Constituents grew tired of watching government expand and spending increase at an unabated pace. I thought last November, taxpayers were telling Washington to show some restraint and make difficult choices, just like American families do every day in their budgets.
Unfortunately, instead of decreasing spending and attempting to address out of control entitlements, the House, under Democrat control, has simply increased the spending curve. The issue with spending is that it must be paid for either right now with taxes, or by future generations when it is passed on as debt. The second option is irresponsible of lawmakers as a way to pay for current programs. But equally troubling is the idea of lawmakers simply writing themselves a budgetary increase by taxing hardworking American families.
Every day, families in the United States make difficult decisions regarding their budgets because they cannot simply increase their income. Lawmakers should be making the same difficult decisions. Instead, the massive tax increases passed by the House this year show just how the majority party intends to pay for their increase in spending.
The numbers don't lie. The fiscal year 2008 budget passed by the majority party included $392.5 billion in tax increases. This is a deeply troubling number and reflects the notion that government knows how to spend your money better than you do. I simply disagree with this concept. Taxpayers can and should keep more of their money to spend the way they see fit.
The coming year's budget is the fiscal road map for this Congress, but it is not the only place where Democrats have chosen to use increases in taxes to pay for increases in spending.
The Farm Bill that passed the House at the end of July contained a $7.5 billion tax increase on foreign companies with subsidiaries here in the United States. I simply cannot understand why Congressional leaders would want to punish foreign companies for building plants and factories here in America that provide Americans with jobs. These foreign companies provide jobs for 5.1 million Americans. This tax increase was especially short sighted, considering the possible ramifications if foreign companies choose to take their business elsewhere.
The majority passed bill reauthorizing and expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is yet another example of short sighted policy that increases taxes to pay for increased spending. The Democrat bill that passed the House would increase taxes by $54 billion, including an increase in the tobacco sales tax, a tax that studies have shown will disproportionately fall on the same lower income population that is supposed to be helped by SCHIP.
The energy plan put forward by the Democrats calls for an estimated $6.1 billion in tax increases on domestic energy sources. This tax increase would no doubt result in an increase at the fuel pump for Americans that are already feeling the pinch from high gas prices.
Each of these issues is important. We need forward looking, visionary policies to confront the challenges our nation faces. Raiding family budgets in order to pay for rapidly increasing programs is neither responsible, nor forward thinking. Congress must set spending priorities and establish fiscal restraint so that we do not need to increase the requirements on current, or future, taxpayers. Raising taxes should be the last option in policy making, not the first.