House budget as big as it gets
By Congressman Joe Pitts
Just about one month after President Bush released his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, House Democrats released their own budget this week. You can tell a lot about a politician by the budget he or she writes. In that regard, I was not surprised by the budget in the sense that it represents their governing philosophy of bigger government and higher taxes to pay for it.
I am, however, surprised that at a time when our economy is shaky and American families are being forced to make difficult budget decisions at their kitchen table, Congress has chosen not to make the difficult decisions necessary to craft a responsible budget. Instead, they threw caution to the wind and spent like there was no tomorrow.
The proposal represents what would be the largest tax increase in American history, at $683 billion. Perhaps they are using this massive sum to address our looming demographic tsunami and the entitlement crisis it will create? No, entitlements were not addressed at all. In fact, they were irresponsibly ignored, to be left to the next Congress, or perhaps the next generation to address. The $683 billion was used on plain old big government programs.
Under this proposed budget, 116 million taxpayers will be hit with an average tax increase of $1,833. The average Pennsylvania taxpayer will be hit with a tax increase of over $3,000. Many of those 116 million are people who would much rather keep their own money than send it to the federal government and hope it comes back in the form of some government program they can take advantage of.
Even the child tax credit was not safe. The child tax credit had been $1,000 per child. That number was cut in half by a party-line vote in the Budget Committee, raising taxes on American families by $500 per child. Apparently, Congress believes middle-income families with children are doing well enough that they ought to be sending more money to the government. I know that many middle-income families already have to make difficult budget decisions, and I do not believe we should be increasing their taxes.
In fact, the budget assumes that all of the tax cuts instated in 2001 and 2003 will expire by 2011. When those tax cuts were first written into law, they were given a sunset date, like many government programs are. Unfortunately, this has allowed Congress to assume their expiration while claiming taxes are not being raised. However, the American people do not want to play semantics with the issue. They know that having to send more money to the federal government is a tax increase. To them, it does not matter whether it was a proactive or passive act by Congress. And under this budget, sending more money to the federal government is exactly what the average American will be doing.
In addition to the reduction of the child tax credit, the budget assumes the reinstatement of the marriage penalty. This ridiculous tax means that when two individuals get married, they end up paying more in taxes than the sum of what each paid as an individual. The marriage penalty had been done away with, but it now appears as though it will return. This alone will account for a tax increase of $25 billion over five years.
The budget also raises the debt this year by $646 billion. That is the largest annual increase in the debt limit in history. And, during debate in committee, an amendment was rejected that would have forced Representatives to be accountable for the level of the debt by having to cast a vote on an increase on the House floor. Instead, the enactment of the budget itself will increase the debt limit, allowing Representatives to hide from a debt limit vote by pointing to any number of other items they are proud to support in the budget. With our national debt rising, and government spending increasing, along with taxes, the American people deserve more transparency and accountability in the budget process, not less.
By allowing the tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 to expires, the budget introduced this week makes perfectly clear the direction Congress is heading: bigger government and higher taxes.