Bill to Hike Small Business Taxes Hits Middle Class
On Thursday, the House passed the so-called "Middle Class Tax Relief Act" by a vote of 234-188. The bill would make permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax relief -- including lower marginal income tax rates, marriage penalty relief, the $1,000 child credit, and other provisions -- but only for couples and businesses earning under $250,000.
However, the legislation is already doomed for failure. While the outgoing House Leadership was pushing its own bill, The White House was negotiating with a group of legislators to hold the line on taxes for everyone including the 750,000 small business owners with incomes above those thresholds (who would otherwise be subject to tax hikes on income, dividends, and capital gains under the House Majority's tax bill).
Rep. Murphy opposed the House bill because it would punish small businesses and stymie any economic recovery.
"While outgoing Speaker Pelosi and the Democrat Majority have tried to convince the American public that this debate is about lowering taxes, the facts are clear: 17 percent of Americans are looking for jobs and the current leadership in Congress does not understand how jobs are created. We need to be helping job-makers, not tax-takers," said Rep. Murphy.
"If this is really about cutting the deficit, then we should cut spending. If this is about growing more jobs then we should not be raising more taxes on employers," said Rep. Murphy.
Internal Revenue Service data shows that the tax hikes would specifically impact nearly half of income from small businesses employing a quarter of the American workforce.
"Without extending the tax cuts for every American citizen, we are putting the brakes on an already stagnant economy," explained Murphy. "We need to do everything we can to drive this country back into financial security and raising taxes keeps us driving in the wrong direction. I hear daily from constituents, worried about keeping their jobs; or worse yet, finding a job. We can not bite the hand that feeds us: small businesses."
Recently, the Congressman heard from one small business owner who wrote to him. "The man makes over $250,000, and he was worried about his employees. This wasn't about his pocketbook, but his staff's. Without the extensions, he would have to face the gloomy reality of having to lay off five employees. How is this helping the middle class?"
Murphy agreed that tax breaks were necessary for everyone. "Still they are only a short term solution. We need to think long term. The bottom line is, "How do we generate dollars into the economy?' It's simple really, we create jobs. Without the additional revenue to drive into the American market, every citizen suffers. That is the big picture."
Over the past few weeks, thousands of Southwestern Pennsylvanians contacted Congressman Tim Murphy to provide feedback on a potential legislative agenda set by the lame-duck majority in Congress. This week's lame-duck session convened with many issues of great concern to most Americans still lingering.
Congress Keeps 'Lame Duck' Legislating
Aside from a vote to allow tax hikes to affect families and small businesses earning more than $250,000, the House of Representatives voted on the following measures this week:
H.R. 5866, the Nuclear Energy Research and Development (NERD) Act. The NERD Act accelerates the research and development of small, pre-made nuclear reactors that can be built in factories and shipped directly to sites without large sums of capital investment or years of planning and construction. Utilities to quickly and simply fill capacity meet US energy demand, which is expected to rise 40% by 2030. Small reactors rely on technology similar to those used in powering US military fleets. Nuclear energy is apart of Murphy's bipartisan energy independence plan. Congressman Murphy is co-author of H.R. 2227, the American Conservation and Clean Energy Independence Act, an all-of-the-above approach to making America energy independent. The House of Representatives adopted the measure by voice vote on Wednesday. On Thursday, Congressman Murphy who supported this measure addressed the House floor and urged the Senate to adopt the measure, as it invests in technologies that can be made here and sold all over the world, "If we don't do this in the USA, other countries can and will make them and ship them here. Let's support US jobs for US energy. Click here to watch Rep. Murphy address the House.
A measure to eliminate $35 million in wasteful practices by Congress was brought to the floor on Wednesday, but the Majority defeated the measure using a procedural method. Congressman Murphy is a supporter of the bill, H.R. 4640, which would cease the mandatory wasteful printing extra copies of legislation for by the Government Printing Office (GPO). For every bill introduced in Congress the GPO prints 200paper copies. In the 111th Congress, over 14,000 bills were introduced, initiating the printing of approximately 2.8 million paper copies, even though all of the bills are available online. The healthcare bill was 2,500 pages alone. Congressman Murphy voted to eliminate this outmoded and wasteful use of taxpayer money.
H.Res.1737, In the Matter of Representative Charles B. Rangel. The House adopted a measure to censure New York Congressman Charles Rangel on Thursday, by a vote of 333-79. Rep. Murphy voted in favor of disciplinary action against Mr. Rangel, who was found guilty by the House bipartisan ethics panel of violating eleven rules.
Murphy Calls on Administration to Reverse Course on "No New Energy Plan"
On Wednesday, the Obama Administration announced enactment of a moratorium on offshore oil and natural gas production in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic Coast through 2017, reversing the March 2010 decision to allow drilling in these areas.
Rep. Tim Murphy, who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, expressed "surprise" at the Administration's "flip-flop."
"I am disappointed that the President just slammed the door shut on 1.2 million new jobs and $8 trillion in economic output when close to seventeen percent of Americans are out of work or looking for work."
"We need to create jobs here, not in the Middle East," Rep. Murphy said. The U.S. will buy roughly $350 billion in foreign oil this year. One-third of U.S. oil crude production comes from offshore drilling in state and federal waters.
"By locking away America's energy resources, the White House seems to be offering up more of the same energy policies that got us into this fiscal mess: higher taxes, debt to China, and dollars to OPEC," Rep. Murphy remarked. "I urge the President to reconsider the new moratorium on offshore energy production and to rally behind a solution that doesn't raise taxes or send our dollars to OPEC."
As an alternative to the moratorium, Rep. Murphy called on the President to support comprehensive, bipartisan energy legislation, H.R. 2227, the American Conservation and Clean Energy Independence Act, which he introduced in May 2009. H.R. 2227 invests an estimated $2.2 trillion to $3.7 trillion in federal lease and royalty payments from expanded offshore oil and natural gas exploration into clean energy, a clean environment, and the rebuilding of America's infrastructure.
"H.R. 2227 will put more than a million Americans to work, all of this without buying oil from OPEC, borrowing from China, or raising taxes. It's the all-of-the-above energy strategy that's fully paid for and puts our economy back on track."
"Now is not the time to maintain the status quo on the staggering unemployment, sluggish economy, and dependence on foreign oil," Rep. Murphy continued. "The choice is simple. We can choose to ignore the issues and shut down our largest domestic asset. Or we can pass this bill, get to work, and move forward responsibly."
As co-chair of the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus, Rep. Murphy leads efforts in Congress on policies geared towards safe production and use of domestic natural gas, which can serve as a critical component of America's goal to achieve energy independence. In an annual report released Tuesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that the U.S. currently has 285 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven natural gas reserves, an increase of 11 percent, or 28.8 tcf, over last year.
A large portion of this natural gas is contained within shale rock formations residing thousands of feet underground. To access these resources, energy exploration and production companies use a technique called "hydraulic fracturing" to create small fissures in the rock formation that release gas from the shale.
Addressing concerns that liquid solutions used in the hydraulic fracturing process should be disclosed, two multi-state environmental regulatory and advisory groups announced efforts to create a public registry of hydraulic fracturing fluid contents. The Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission is launching a one-stop information registry later this month detailing the composition of hydraulic fracturing fluids. Components of hydraulic fracturing fluids are already required by law to be disclosed on Material Safety Data Sheets, and many state environmental protection agencies, including the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, have begun listing these fluids on their public websites.
Rep. Murphy applauded "industry leaders and state regulators for moving toward greater public disclosure of the compound makeup of hydraulic fracturing fluid." He explained: "This is the right thing to do. Many states, like Pennsylvania, have already adopted these measures. This effort will continue to reassure the public that domestic natural gas exploration is being done safely and with minimal impact to the environment."
Rep. Murphy urged state regulators and producers to continue working together on developing America's abundant supply of clean natural gas using the latest technology while maintaining the highest levels of safety, and vowed to keep working, as co-chair of the Congressional Natural Caucus, "on these efforts to support expanded use, responsible transmission, and safe exploration of our domestic natural gas resources."
Uproar over Anti-terror Procedures Necessitate Review
This week, Congressman Murphy continued his commitment to ensuring that Americans' safety and civil liberties are equally protected. Over the past month, Congressman Murphy has been working to ensure the Transportation Security Administration, (which has implemented new controversial screening procedures into answering questions from anxious and outraged travelers), responds to congressional inquiries. The American public has been questioning the necessity and effectiveness of new body scanners and pat-down methods at airports.
Murphy has reached out to TSA Director John Pistole; and has led a bipartisan effort to call TSA before Congress to address the questions and concerns of Americans. On Thursday, Murphy addressed his colleagues on the House floor, calling for an immediate investigation into the practices of the agency.
Murphy asked for clarification on the methods: How do they ensure the privacy of passengers; the effectiveness of the screening; and whether there are more accurate and appropriate ways to identify potential threats?
Many Southwestern Pennsylvanians who have contacted Congressman Murphy expressed dismay over the lack of Congressional oversight in the creation of these new standards. Many have also claimed that the practices are in violation of the Constitution. In his letter to Director Pistole, the Congressman reiterated the fundamental rights of Americans, "the measures by which the federal government takes to protect its citizens cannot eradicate the liberties that it aims to protect.'