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Public Statements

Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 1308, Tax Relief, Simplification, and Equity Act of 2003

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Location: Washington, DC


MOTION TO INSTRUCT CONFEREES ON H.R. 1308, TAX RELIEF, SIMPLIFICATION, AND EQUITY ACT OF 2003 -- (House of Representatives - July 20, 2004)

Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. Speaker, I offer a motion to instruct.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will report the motion.

The Clerk read as follows:

Mr. Stenholm moves that the managers on the part of the House at the conference on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on the House amendment to the Senate amendment to the bill H.R. 1308 be instructed to agree, to the maximum extent possible within the scope of conference, to a conference report that-

(1) extends the tax relief provisions which expire at the end of 2004, and

(2) does not increase the Federal budget deficit.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 7 of rule XXII, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Stenholm) and the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Ryan) each will control 30 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Stenholm).

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I want to be very brief about this. This is a similar motion to instruct that we have seen before. The practical result of this motion to instruct is to make sure that a tax increase hits all middle-income families next year.

We have a problem and the problem is when the tax cuts passed into law last July and in the original tax cuts when they passed in 2001, the intention of this body was to make those tax cuts permanent. The tax cut that passed the House originally was that the child tax credits would be doubled, the marriage tax penalty would be vastly eliminated, and the 10 percent bracket would be expanded, and that that would be the law of the land in perpetuity.

Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.

Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. Speaker, I know the gentleman did not intend to mischaracterize my amendment.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I am getting there.

Mr. STENHOLM. I guess I did not hear what I thought I heard you say.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Reclaiming my time, I am making a larger point that will come around to the practical effect of this motion to instruct.

The point I was trying to make, Mr. Speaker, is that because of an arcane rule in the other body, those tax cuts were made temporary, meaning next year if Congress does not act, the per child tax credits will go from $1,000 down to $700. The marriage penalty relief will go away and the marriage penalty will come back into full force which costs the average married couple $1,400 in higher taxes. And the 10 percent bracket which is income tax relief to low-income Americans will go away and go back to the 15 percent tax bracket.

Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.

Mr. STENHOLM. You are mischaracterizing my amendment. We are suggesting that the tax cuts be extended through next year. You are describing something that is not going to happen in my amendment, leaving a wrong impression with the people that might be listening to us right now.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Reclaiming my time, the point I am coming to is that the practical effect of this by saying "does not increase the Federal budget deficit," is to say that this will not, in effect, end up happening. And what we want to do is make sure these tax cuts stay in place.

The point is this, Mr. Speaker, when the House passed its budget resolution, when the House deemed its budget resolution passed, we budgeted for this. We planned for this. It is within our budget, which is also a broader plan to reduce the budget deficit. The point is if you put this emphasis as this motion to instruct is created, it will put a bias in to keep these taxes high. It will put pressure not on reducing spending, but keeping taxes high. That is my concern with the gentleman's motion to instruct.
By saying, "extend the tax relief provisions that expired at the end of 2004 and does not increase the Federal budget deficit," that puts emphasis on keeping taxes high or raise raising taxes somewhere else to make this tax cut extended, rather than putting the emphasis where it ought to be, and that is reducing spending like we budget for in the budget resolution which we have deemed here.

So the points is this: we want these tax cuts to be permanent. It was always the intention they be permanent. By having these kinds of motions to instruct which will have the practical effect, in my opinion, of derailing these tax relief measures, we will have a tax increase on the middle-income family earners.

This is in our budget resolution. We budget for these tax cuts to be made permanent. That is what should happen. That is why I urge a "no" vote on this motion to instruct.

With that, I understand my friend from Texas disagrees with my assessment of this, but that is my assessment. I think that is exactly what would happen if this were to be the case. That is why I urge a "no" vote.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I think it is a fascinating argument. We have heard it time and time and time again. My friend talks about the lack of controlling of spending. Let me remind, Mr. Speaker, you control this House. You control the Senate. You control the White House. All of the great speeches that are made about controlling spending are your responsibility.

This amendment will not stop that from happening. In fact, I suggest just the opposite has been happening because we continue to pay tax cuts but spending goes up. Nothing in my amendment suggests that spending would not go down. If you want to have a tax cut, pass the spending cuts first. Do not just do it on the promise of a theory that so far has not worked. Did not work in the 1980s, has not worked in the 1990s. But yet we hear the same rhetoric; and with all due respect, my colleague mischaracterizes our amendment.

I would be happy to yield at any time to my friend.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. STENHOLM. I yield to the gentleman from Wisconsin.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. As this motion to instruct is written, number one, under the PAYGO rules that you are advocating, you will have to raise taxes somewhere else to pay for this tax cut or you will cut entitlements because that is how PAYGO works for these tax reliefs.

Mr. STENHOLM. Reclaiming my time, I take back time because again you are totally misleading the body when you make that statement.

If you go back to PAYGO as was originally passed in this body in 1990, repassed in 1993, repassed in 1997 with Republican votes for it and Democrats joining, like myself, in putting that in place, it worked. There is nothing in this amendment that suggests that you, the majority party, must cut entitlement spending in order to achieve a tax cut.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. STENHOLM. I yield to the gentleman from Wisconsin.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Does PAYGO allow for cuts in discretionary spending to be used to pay for tax relief?

Mr. STENHOLM. Yes.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I have a different understanding on that.

Mr. STENHOLM. That is the problem. That is the problem. It is a lack of understanding. PAYGO means you have got to come up with the spending cuts to take care of the amount of tax cut.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. If the gentleman is suggesting that when the budget resolution sets its 302(a) and reconciles its provisions, then the answer is you can put credit on the PAYGO score card to pay for a tax cut. But given the fact that we already have a budget resolution that is deemed, that accommodates this tax relief provision extending this tax cut so that it does not expire, we already have in our budget this budgeted for.

Mr. STENHOLM. The gentleman has misstated the facts again. There is no budget. There is no budget until we get a House-Senate conference and we have a budget. If we had a budget, I would probably be standing up here agreeing with parts of what you are saying.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. The House deemed a budget, so we for practical purposes are operating under the House budget resolution which we deemed to be the budget of the House because we could not get a budget agreement with the other body.

Mr. STENHOLM. Reclaiming my time, that is precisely why I am standing here tonight offering a solution for the House and the Senate.

There is a bipartisan family tax relief proposal in the other body. It calls for a clean 1-year extension of the present law, $1,000 tax credit. It calls for the marriage tax penalty relief and the standard deduction, clean 1-year extension of present law so that married couples get twice the standard deductions of single filers. It calls for the 10 percent rate bracket clean 1-year extension. It calls for 1-year acceleration of the scheduled 2005 increase from 10 to 15 percent. It provides for the benefit of the child credit to military families by expanding the definition of earned income.

There is not a bit of this that you are opposed to. We all agree on that.

Now, what my proposal does is the offsets that they put in their bill. The Concord Coalition today has endorsed what this bipartisan group of Senators, let me read the names, Senator Snowe, Republican of Maine; Senator Baucus, Democrat of Montana; Senator McCain, Republican of Arizona; Senator Breaux, Democrat of Louisiana; Senator Chafee, Republican of Rhode Island; Senator Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas.

The other body is showing some signs of saying, look, it is time for us to deal with a very serious problem. If we do not act, these tax cuts are going to become tax increases on the middle-income folks. If we do not act. To act you are going to have to eventually get some kind of bipartisan agreement. You will never get bipartisan agreement by standing up in this body and saying, we passed a budget in this House. Whoopee. We passed one in this House. But you have got to have a Senate concurrence if you are going to, in fact, achieve something that we all agree needs to be done. That is my point.
We can do this. It is not that difficult. Unless you just believe we can borrow unlimited amounts of money.

There are some misconceptions flowing around. I have been in this body now for 13 terms. And when I look at spending as a percent of gross domestic product when I arrived here in 1979 and compare it with spending today, total spending as a percent of GDP, it is one half of 1 percent less today than it was in 1979. Revenue has dropped by 5 percent. The amount of revenue that we have available to fund the programs, including fighting three wars, has dropped by 5 percent; and in dropping the revenue by 5 percent, we are adding to the deficit at an alarming rate.
It does not seem to bother you, Mr. Speaker. It does not seem to bother my friend. As long as we were out here arguing about tax cuts, it does not bother anyone. And why should it? The folks that this should bother are our children and grandchildren, and they have about as much knowledge of this as my friend arguing on the other side here today and they cannot vote. That is the problem. Our grandchildren cannot vote.

Adding to the deficit under a political theory that has not worked, did not work in the 1980s, is not working today, is dangerous to the future health of this country. I believe that.

My friends on the other side apparently do not believe that. And that is fine. As long as you stand up and say, honestly, I do not believe it is going to harm the United States of America that we borrow another 75 to $180 billion, because tonight I do not know what my friends are proposing in this mysterious conference. Very unusual procedure that we are talking about in doing what no one knows until the leadership deems that it is going to be on the floor, and deems the way it is going to be carried out, and deems the way that it is going to, in fact, effect the future economy of this country.

Now, that is perfectly within the purview of the majority party, to continue to allow business as serious as the economic future of this country to be decided in a very small cadre of Members who happen to be in the leadership. And if you continue to do as you have been doing, you are going to be successful in this body. But then what happens if we cannot get an agreement with the other body?

Why would we not come together tonight and say, okay, we can have a 1-year extension and we can pay for it, either with the way the Senate has proposed it or by finding some other spending cuts up front. Not doing it like we did it 2 weeks ago, and spending 7 hours in this body debating all these wonderful amendments and then having nothing. Some got 100 votes and some got 105. And that is perfectly within the purview of any Member to stand up and speak for what they are for. But, ultimately, when you are in the majority party you have to accept the responsibility, the responsibility of your actions.
Just as I took the hand of your party in the 1980s when we were in the majority in this body and we worked together for some compromises regarding the economy of this country, we offer that hand tonight. This amendment, if you look at it honestly, again, is a very simple motion. It calls on Congress to extend middle-class tax relief without increasing the deficit. What is wrong with that? I ask my colleagues, what is wrong with extending middle-class tax relief without increasing the deficit? Why are my friends on the other side of the aisle so bound and determined that you want to continue to increase the deficit because you have a theory, a theory, that by cutting taxes without paying for them that it will do something other than increase the deficit?

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. STENHOLM. I yield to the gentleman from Wisconsin.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I was thinking we were going to yield all time back.
I want to be very brief. We do want to reduce the deficit. We are trying to reduce the deficit. I think there is a better way than this vehicle. That is the point I am trying to make.

I do believe there is a difference of opinion on how the PAYGO rules work. But also I think it is important to point out the fact that the tax cuts that took place last year, since then we have actually raised more money in tax receipts under these new lower tax rates than we did last year under the higher tax rates. So the facts are there; but, nevertheless, the point of this is we passed budget resolutions. We have not gotten one with the other body for a lot of reasons, but we have deemed it here. We passed the budget to try to get a handle on spending and reduce the deficit. I would have done even more on spending control in our budget resolution.

This is not the vehicle to do it because I believe this vehicle will make it harder to extend this tax relief; and, therefore, you will have a tax increase on middle-income workers. And I believe the better vehicle to get a hold of our deficit is to pass a good budget that gets down our deficit, that reduces our deficit.

I thank the gentleman for giving me the time.

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