PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 3996, TEMPORARY TAX RELIEF ACT OF 2007
Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, we're setting a precedent here. This is new policy that we are embarking on here. And let me tell you what this means. We have always in the past done what we call a patch for the AMT. We have always said let's not let the alternative minimum tax hit all these new taxpayers. Let's prevent that tax increase from happening. Well, what is now happening is the majority is saying, instead of having this tax increase, let's have some other tax increase. That's what their PAYGO rule does.
PAYGO does not mean let's live within our means, but let's expand government's growth, let's raise taxes. And 73 percent of all of the pay-fors for the bills that have come to this Congress this year have been paid for with either budget gimmicks or tax increases. That's right. Of all the wish lists of spending that the majority has brought to the floor, 73 percent of those things were either budget gimmicks or tax increases.
This is a tax increase. What this is, is saying you cannot come to the floor of this Congress and prevent this new future tax increase; so we're going to make another tax increase. If you want to stop this tax increase, you've got to raise taxes. You just simply can't stop the tax increase.
Now, why are we doing this? You've got to remember, Mr. Speaker, that the AMT in 1969, when it was written, was to stop 155 multimillionaires from escaping taxes. That was the idea. No one, no one ever intended it to be what it is today. It was a mistake. No one planned the alternative minimum tax to tax 23 million people in the middle class this year. No one said let's tax 30 million people in 3 years, but that's what this does. The majority's budget includes it. The majority's budget plans for it. And more important than that, Mr. Speaker, the majority is saying we may not want the alternative minimum tax, but we want that tax revenue. And that is the dangerous precedent that is being set here.
This chart shows you where the majority is trying to head with taxes in America on families and businesses and entrepreneurs. The blue line shows you our average. For the last 40 years, the Federal Government has had to tax about 18.3 percent of our economy to run the Federal Government. We have had good economic growth. We've been the world's leading economic superpower. We have been the world's superpower. And we have done this by taxing our economy at about 18.3 percent. What the majority is trying to do is take us to an all new high.
There are only three times in our Nation's history where we have ever exceeded taxing our Federal economy by 20 percent. Two of those were during World War II. And the majority wants not only to tax us at 20 percent; they want us to go up to 21 percent and then on up to 24 percent with this tax plan. This is a down payment on the majority's planned and intended and budgeted-for $3.5 trillion tax increase over the next 10 years.
And here is what is wrong with that: not only is it morally wrong to take more and more money out of people's paychecks, by taking more of their freedom and sending it to Washington, but what is really wrong is that it lowers our standard of living. And that is what is at issue here.
For the last 15 years, we have watched Europe go down this dangerous path. If you take a look at the majority's plan to bring us to this ever-higher level of taxation, add the State government, and we are on our way to taxing 35 percent of GDP. That is where the countries of Europe are.
And what did Europe achieve over the last 15 years? Their per capita of GDP, our main measurement of standard of living, is a quarter less than ours. Their standard of living is 25 percent less than the American standard of living. Their unemployment rate averages 9 percent; ours is half that.
So if we want to go down the road of stagnation, of high unemployment, of a lower standard of living, vote for this bill. Put us on this path.
Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. That is exactly the point, Mr. Speaker.
At a time when Europe is telling us don't follow us down this path, look at the unemployment, look at the welfare dependency. We have got to get out of this.
We are following them. We're going into the hole they've dug for themselves that they are trying to get out of. That is the majority's plan. That's a dangerous plan. They are saying you can't even bring a bill to the floor unless it raises taxes. That's what PAYGO means. That's wrong. This is the down payment on a $3.5 trillion tax increase on every American income tax payer. That's wrong.
Mr. Speaker, this is a difference between our two parties. This is a difference between our philosophies. We believe the genius of America is the individual, the family, the entrepreneur, not government, not Washington, not elites here trying to spend your hard-earned tax dollars. That is the difference. We believe we should keep government lean and we should keep government doing what it should be doing and not ever growing its role because when we do that, we sap the strength of the American entrepreneur, of our economy.
We need to give our children the gift that our parents gave us, and that is a higher standard of living. And we are at risk of severing that legacy, Mr. Speaker.