Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the time.
I want to get to tax policy here in just a moment, but I want to take just a few minutes, having just passed the appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012, to talk about how long that's been.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I know you have been a proponent of regular order since you came to this body. But as I went back and looked to see when was the last time the House was able to operate not under a continuing resolution but under a regular appropriations process, Mr. Speaker, it's been since December of 2009. December of 2009 is when we last passed an appropriations bill.
Now granted appropriations bills come in all sorts and sizes. The one we're dealing with today came in the large size. We'll call that the jumbo size. I know the minority whip shares my passion for that. My hope is we will be able to get to regular order next year and go through each appropriations bill one by one by one.
But what I say to you, Mr. Speaker, is that I came to this body a year ago to make a difference, and I wanted to make all the difference last January, I'll be honest with you. And when I couldn't do it all in January, I hoped that we could do it all in February. When we couldn't do it all in February, I hoped we could do it all in March. And, of course, we were able to pass the budget here in the House, the budget that took the first step towards reforming entitlements that we've seen come out of this body since I would argue Lyndon Johnson began these programs in the 1960s. But we have begun to make a difference.
As I look at this stack of papers here that represent the spending, the appropriations process, for 2012, Mr. Speaker, it's the first time in 2 years we've had that. Of course, over a thousand days since the Senate has been able to pass a budget. We have made progress. As 2011 comes to a close, I hope we can celebrate some of those successes along the way.
Because in terms of real spending, Mr. Speaker, in this document what we see is for the second year in a row, the first time since World War II, two consecutive years, Mr. Speaker, with this leadership team and this appropriations committee and this bipartisan House, we've been able to reduce Federal discretionary spending--$95 billion.
A lot of folks say, well, Rob, is that going to be funny math? Is that going to be just some items but not all items? As you know, Mr. Speaker, that's everything. That's the regular appropriations process, that's the so-called emergency spending, that's the war spending, what they call the OCO account. That's everything. And we've brought it down $95 billion in just 1 year, just the 1 year you and I have been here, Mr. Speaker.
But it can't all be done in appropriations bills, Mr. Speaker, you know. Only about a third of all of the money that goes out the door here in Washington, D.C., goes out the door through this process that we did today, the appropriations process. The rest of it goes out through mandatory spending programs--Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, interest on the national debt--those mandatory spending programs.
In fact, as you know, Mr. Speaker, we could zero out everything else. We could decide there will be no Congress, there will be no White House, there will be no FBI, there will be no Army, there will be no Navy, no Marine Corps, no Coast Guard, no Air Force, no parks, no Environmental Protection Agency, no Education Department, no nothing. We could zero out absolutely everything that we fund through the appropriations process and the budget still wouldn't be balanced. Not cutting it. Zeroing it out. And we still couldn't balance the budget just on appropriations bills alone.
There's two sides of every budget balancing operation, Mr. Speaker, as you know. There's the spending side, and there's the revenue side. I want to talk about the revenue side here for just a minute.
I put up a poster here, Mr. Speaker. You can't see it from where you sit. It says H.R. 25, the FairTax. I'm going to leave it up here the whole half hour, Mr. Speaker, because H.R. 25, named the FairTax, is the only tax bill in Congress, the only piece of legislation on either the House side or the Senate side that goes into the Tax Code and says every exception, exemption, exclusion, special carve-outs, special favor, anything that gives you a break over your neighbor, your company an advantage over the one next door, all of those tax breaks, special exceptions, loopholes--gone.
It's the only bill in either the House or the Senate that does it.
But that's not even the good news, Mr. Speaker. The good news is it's also the most popular fundamental tax bill in either the House or Senate as well. That's right. More Members of this body have cosponsored the FairTax than any other fundamental tax reform legislation that's been introduced here. And more United States Senators in the other body have cosponsored their version of the FairTax than any other fundamental tax reform proposal in the Senate.
Now, why is that important? Why is it important to end all the loopholes?
Well, Mr. Speaker, the chart I have here is the cost of tax expenditures. Now tax expenditures--I've got to tell you that's a tough word in conservative circles because the government doesn't actually have any money. As you know, Mr. Speaker, every nickel that gets spent in Washington, D.C., got sucked into Washington, D.C., from the heartland from back in my district in Georgia, from back in your district, from somebody's family kitchen table. Every nickel that gets spent in Washington got sucked up here to Washington, D.C.
Oftentimes when we talk about taxes and we talk about giving people their money back, that's not spending, that's giving people their own hard-earned money back.
Today, Mr. Speaker, when we have $15 trillion in national debt, when the amount of money we owe has eclipsed the entire productive capacity of America for an entire year, our entire annual GDP, the question now is when you have a tax break, when you agree to let a loophole into the Tax Code and let somebody else pay less, what happens? Well, what happens is that we then borrow more.
That's a new debate, Mr. Speaker, because so often we can talk about tax cuts like the capital gains tax cut, like interest in dividends. We can talk about tax cuts that stimulate the economy, tax cuts that we think will help the economy grow faster and bring more revenue in; but all tax cuts aren't like that. Some tax cuts are just free money that you're giving away to people. Instead of passing a bill that says, I hereby give you a hundred dollars, it makes Congress feel better to pass a bill that says, I hereby tax you a hundred dollars less. I'm going to bill your neighbors for it, and I'm going to bill your kids for it, and I'm going to bill your grandkids for it, but I'm going to tax you a hundred dollars less.
It's time, Mr. Speaker, for us as conservatives to be honest about where the Tax Code takes this country when we fill it full of loopholes and exemptions, because I will tell you, and you know better than most, Mr. Speaker, the art of the loophole is a time-honored Washington tradition.
It's not something that has been perfected by Republicans. It's not something that has been perfected by Democrats. It's not even something that was perfected by the Whigs, Mr. Speaker. It's been around as long as taxes have been around.
And the folks who work in this town who try to manipulate the Tax Code have been around just as long as well.
But let's look at this. Let's look at what's happening in 2012, just in 2012. The annual budget deficit for 2012, Mr. Speaker, is projected by the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Research Service to be $1.1 trillion and change. It's a $1.1 trillion projected budget deficit for 2012.
How much money do you think we've carved out in loopholes and exceptions and exemptions and carve-outs and deductions and credit? How much money do you think we've carved out? $1.065 trillion. That's a powerful message, Mr. Speaker. We could balance the budget this year if we eliminated every single tax break in the U.S. Tax Code.
Now, that's a debate worth having.
I don't want to eliminate every single deduction in the U.S. Tax Code, every single credit in the U.S. Tax Code. Every credit in the U.S. Tax Code is not created equally. Every deduction in the U.S. Tax Code is not created equally. There are some that help move this economy forward, and there are some that don't. That's the debate that we have, and this is the end result of it.
What if we started over from scratch, Mr. Speaker? What if we started over from scratch with a bill like the FairTax--with something that ends all loopholes by starting a Tax Code that has no loopholes, that ends the loopholes by starting a Tax Code that has no loopholes?
So often we talk about reforming the Tax Code as if we're stuck with the Tax Code that we've got. Are we? I tell you we're not. That's what this body does. This body could zero out the entire Tax Code and start again with a blank sheet of paper tomorrow. We have that ability; we have that authority; and we ought to use it.
If we used it today--again, just to understand the magnitude of the exceptions and exemptions in the Tax Code, when you go and you say, Golly, I'm in the 15 percent bracket; I'm in the 25 percent bracket; I'm in the 10 percent bracket--when you talk about those things, the exceptions and exemptions total over $1 trillion in 2012 alone.
Now, where are those? Where are those exceptions and exemptions going, Mr. Speaker? This next chart quantifies those.
Number one, a list of exceptions and exemptions: exclusion of employer contributions for medical insurance premiums and medical care, $609 billion.
Hear that, Mr. Speaker. Half of all the money that's included in loopholes, exemptions, exceptions, exclusions, carve-outs in the United States Tax Code goes to employers to subsidize their purchases of health insurance for their employees.
Candidly, Mr. Speaker, I hear from employees day after day after day, and they say, Rob, how come I don't get those same tax breaks to purchase my own insurance? Why am I held captive--captive--by my employer? Since when did my employer get entrusted to make the best health decisions for me and my family?
I will tell you that this provision that originated in World War II, with wage controls here in Congress, has led to so many of the third-party payer problems, the health insurance inflation challenges, that we have in this country today.
$609 billion is what you, Mr. Speaker, and your family and every other American family has to pay more because we've chosen to subsidize the business purchase of health insurance, which has the secondary and tertiary effects of trapping you in the job that you have because you can't get insurance at your next job; that has the effect of trapping you with the insurance policy that you have because your employer only offers one policy; that has the effect of your having a third-party payer so that it insulates you from the true cost of health care.
Trouble after trouble after trouble with the American health care system comes from the United States Tax Code, Mr. Speaker--and we can do better.
$357 billion is the deductibility of mortgage insurance on owner-occupied homes. It's the mortgage insurance deduction--again, a deduction that millions of American families take advantage of. It's a deduction that, arguably, has a tremendous effect on the real estate market and on our real estate agents and on our construction companies--on and on and on. There are things tied into the deductibility of mortgage insurance.
I remember once upon a time, Mr. Speaker, I was listening to an elected official talk. He had some folks in his office, and they said, We have to, have to, have to have the deductibility of mortgage insurance because the only reason we're able to sell real estate in this country is that folks are able to deduct their interest, and that makes a difference.
This elected official said, Well, how about if we double interest rates? Is that going to help us sell more homes?--because it'll certainly help folks deduct more interest. The answer was no.
What we need are low interest rates to sell homes. We have low interest rates in this country today, but it's one of those things that, whether Republicans or Democrats, folks have agreed that we want to subsidize interest payments for folks who own homes. There is no such subsidy program for folks who rent.
Is there a good reason for that? Maybe there is. Certainly, the argument has been made time and time again, but it's something that we have chosen to do in this country, Mr. Speaker.
I don't know that, even for those Americans who defend this deduction to their dying breaths, do they know that it comprises a full third of the value of every deduction, exemption, exclusion that exists in the United States Tax Code, because it does--half of the deductions and exclusions come in from the mortgage interest deduction, others from the medical insurance and premium deductions for employers.
Finally, of the biggest of our deductions and exemptions is the deduction for 401(k) plans, which is down here at the bottom, of $356 billion--again, deducting money that we're saving, right?--because the power to tax is the power to destroy, Mr. Speaker--you know that--time and time again as you advocate for lower taxes, because what we tax today is income and what income is is a measure of your productivity, and what we need in today's economy is more productivity, not less productivity. The power to tax is the power to destroy.
So rather than taxing savings--because we don't have enough retirement savings happening in this country, because we don't have enough thrifts happening in this country--we've given folks a tax break to encourage them to save.
Is that a laudable public goal, Mr. Speaker? I'm sure it is. I'm sure that it is.
We need more Americans to take saving for their retirement more seriously. The question is, What's the best way to get that done? Is it the United States Tax Code? But does America know that that's what's happening today, that today $356 billion of tax revenue is forgone in the name of encouraging retirement savings?
It's a debate that has to happen in Washington, D.C.--these are the big ones--because so often we argue about things as if it's the little ones that find the dollar. It's not the little ones that find the dollar; it's the little ones that find the headlines. You don't find headlines about the mortgage interest deduction or the employer health insurance deduction. You find headlines about the ``bridge to nowhere'' and how in the world that got in the Transportation bill. But understand that this is big business.
Now, I'm not here to pick on lobbyists, Mr. Speaker. I think lobbyists perform an important role in this town. I can't be an expert on every issue, and I can't hire staff. I've got Alex Poirot on my staff down here today. He knows a lot about a lot, but he can't know everything about everything. So, when I need more information, I will go to folks involved in the industry. We call those folks ``lobbyists.''
I'll tell you, the best lobbyists in the world are the ones who fly up from back home--the teachers in your community, the caretakers in your community, the physicians in your community. Those members of your community who come up here to talk about their issues are the best lobbyists in town, but there are firms up here that have lobbyists as well.
There is a line in ``The Distinguished Gentleman.'' Mr. Speaker, I'm going to date myself by going back to when Eddie Murphy's movies were funny, back in the day. ``The Distinguished Gentleman'' was a tale of a fellow who got elected to Congress by accident. And he was going along with the process, and he walked up to a powerful committee chairman. And the committee chairman said, How do you feel about sugar subsidies? Eddie Murphy, being Eddie Murphy and a new Congressman said, Well, Mr. Chairman, how should I feel about sugar subsidies? And the chairman said, It doesn't matter, because if you support sugar subsidies, we're going to get you money from the confectioners and the bakers. And if you oppose sugar subsidies, we're going to get your money from the cane growers and the beet growers.
There are folks on every side of the issue in this town. So whenever there's an issue that's a contentious issue, you can call in one side, you can call in the other, and you can hear both sides of the argument. Folks who are experts, folks who have been working on these issues for decade after decade after decade. Well, when the Federal tax bill for America's businesses is $10 billion, it doesn't take much of an investment in lobbying for special exemptions in the Tax Code to make that happen.
Now let me go back and look at corporate income taxes over time. I'm in the camp that tells you, corporations don't pay taxes, Mr. Speaker. Corporations do not pay taxes. Consumers pay taxes. I'm from Atlanta. If you add a tax on the Coca-Cola Company, what do you think is going to happen? They're going to raise the price of Coca-Cola. Right? That's what happens every single time that--we already have a competitive market. Coke and Pepsi are competing in a cutthroat beverage market out there today. They're already suppressing their prices as much as they can. There is only one taxpayer in America, and it is the American consumer. When we tax businesses, we just make the businesses the tax collector, and they raise their prices. I end up paying the tax when I buy the goods. They collect those taxes, and pass them on.
But according to our friends at Citizens for Tax Justice--and you are not going to hear me quoting Citizens for Tax Justice very often, Mr. Speaker, because we don't agree a lot. But they pay a lot of attention to how much money is being spent in this town to manipulate the Tax Code. They say $475 million is being spent to manipulate the Tax Code in this town. Now, folks, it's our fault. We created the Tax Code. I don't blame the IRS for the way the Tax Code works. Congress created the Tax Code. Congress tells the IRS what to do. So for businesses to spend $475 million, for individuals to pay folks to come and lobby for the United States Tax Code, that makes sense. Why do you rob banks? Because that's where the money is. Why do you lobby the Tax Code? Because that's where the money is--not in these appropriations bills that we're doing today, but in the Tax Code.
Trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars in revenue, Mr. Speaker. And with the stroke of a pen, a loophole, an exception, exemption hidden somewhere in what is now 76,000 pages of code, you can save money for your client. You can get a break that your competitor doesn't get. And who ends up paying that bill? Every other American family. And if we don't pay that bill today, we end up borrowing that money, and our kids pay the bill, and our grandkids pay the bill for years and years and years to come.
This isn't rocket science, Mr. Speaker. This is Economics 101. I do it when I go to speak to high school classes. I say, you know, I've got a job in my congressional office. You're going to get to serve your neighbors. You're going to get to serve your country. It is going to be a wonderful thing. And I pay $10 an hour. Who wants to come? All the hands go up around the room. Then I say, But I'm going to have to put a tax on that because we have bills to pay in this country. So I am going to put a $9 an hour tax on that, but you will still be able to take home that last dollar. Who wants to come work 80 hours a week for me for $1 an hour? And all the hands go down, Mr. Speaker. That's economics 101. There is a sweet spot here. They called it the Laffer curve in the 1980s. There's a sweet spot where you can raise tax rates and continue to raise income for the government--tax receipts, and if you exceed that rate, you begin to shrink tax receipts for the government.
I remember a story, Mr. Speaker, this was over on the Senate side, a Senator from Washington State who ran the Finance Committee at the time. And the question was, What would happen if we raised taxes to 100 percent on all Americans who make over $250,000 a year? What would happen? What would happen if we raised taxes on all Americans making over $250,000 a year to 100 percent? Well, he asked that question to the tax scoring committee, and folks got excited, sent back a good message, and said, Oh, golly, if we did that, we'd raise this big pot of money to help pay Federal bills. Big pot of money.
Well, come on, Mr. Speaker, you tell me, what would happen if we raised taxes on you to 100 percent? Well, I tell you, you would quit coming to work. You have got a heart for service. But you also have bills to pay. Folks would adjust their behavior. No one would make over $250,000 a year anymore.
The power to tax is the power to destroy. When you tax at 100 percent, you destroy 100 percent of all that economic production. You know what's sad, as I look at this Economics 101 chart, Mr. Speaker? It's that it's America that has this disastrous, destructive, detrimental Tax Code. The former Soviet Bloc countries, Mr. Speaker, they have flat taxes. They have consumption taxes. They started with a blank slate after the fall of the Soviet Union, and they created tax codes that work. They rejected the communist system and said, What if we have a flat tax on everything that's easy to pay?
Mr. Speaker, I know we have to have taxes in this country, and I don't mind paying them. I don't mind paying them. I love the freedom that we have in this country, and I know freedom isn't free. What I don't like, Mr. Speaker, is having to pay someone to help me pay my taxes--I'm a smart guy--to have to pay someone to help me pay my taxes.
If we're going to collect taxes from folks, it ought to be easy, and the more complicated we make it, the less revenue we collect. And who has proven that point? The former Soviet Bloc countries. That's where we look for economic vibrance today, Mr. Speaker. That's where we look for Tax Code success today. Country after country after country threw out their old code, adopted a flat consumption tax, a flat income tax, made it easy to pay, easy to comply with, and raised the revenues to their national treasury. We could do that very same thing. There's a sweet spot, and we are not in it.
Mr. Speaker, we sometimes get swept up in partisanship here in the House. I know you avoid it. I try to avoid it. But sometimes it happens. But when it comes to the issue of reforming the Tax Code, it's not a partisan issue. I'll point to this quote from President Barack Obama in a speech he was making on international tax policy reform. He says, Our Tax Code is full of corporate loopholes that make it perfectly legal for companies to avoid paying their fair share. Now his take on it is a little different from mine.
You know, the U.S. Tax Code defines what folks have to do. I almost think it's your patriotic duty to pay as little tax as you legally can. Don't send your extra money up here. Whoever is encouraging you to do that, don't do it. Keep as much of your own money as you can because I promise you, you're going to spend it better than I will.
It's not from lack of trying. It's not from lack of trying. Keep your own money in your pocket; send as little as you legally can.
But, yes, the Tax Code has been warped over time to make it very difficult to tell what is someone's fair share. What is their fair share?
Now, the top 10 percent of all income earners in this country, Mr. Speaker, pay 60 percent of all of the income taxes. The top 10 percent pay 60 percent of all the income taxes. The top 50 percent pay 100 percent of all the income taxes. About half of America today pays no income taxes whatsoever. In fact, a growing amount of American families are actually receiving money from the Tax Code instead of paying money into the Tax Code. That's not what the Tax Code is for.
But on both sides of the aisle, we agree that this Tax Code isn't working. The President thinks it isn't working because it allows folks to pay nothing, and that's not fair. I'd tell you it's not working because it allows one company to pay one amount and its neighbor company to have to pay twice that amount, and that's not fair. Equity is what's fair. And I'll tell you, Tax Code for corporations, it shouldn't go from the 30s down to the 20s. It shouldn't go from the 30s down to the teens. It should go from the 30s down to zero, Mr. Speaker, to zero because businesses don't pay taxes. Their consumers pay taxes.
I pay taxes when I shop at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart's not paying the tax. They're raising the price on the good, and I'm paying the tax and you're paying the tax and every American family that shops there is paying the tax.
So how do we get to something that defines our fair share? Well, Mr. Speaker, that brings me to the heart of the FairTax. I don't like the divisive games that are being played in America today, Mr. Speaker. I don't know why it is that what we see in the media and what we sometimes hear from the podiums is language designed to divide America. I can't think of a single strength of this country, I can't think of a single trait that makes this country great that is enhanced by dividing America. That's why we always talk about the American Dream, Mr. Speaker, something that unites us, something that brings all of our disparate views and hopes and dreams together into one understanding of what makes this country different from any other country on the planet.
Mr. Speaker, my idea of fair when I sit down with a blank sheet of paper to try to design a brand new Tax Code for this country, fair doesn't mean that we're going to try to ensure equal outcomes for every American. Fair means we're going to start with a level playing field for every American.
Have you ever been in a community, Mr. Speaker, and you see somebody driving a brand-new Porsche and you wonder if they're paying their fair share? Have you ever been walking past a clothing store, you and I might be on our way down to the Goodwill or Salvation Army or T.J.Maxx or to Marshall's and you see somebody walking into Brooks Brothers and you wonder if they're paying their fair share?
You know, I remember growing up, I had a good friend who lived next door. The family had everything--boats, lake houses, beach houses, brand-new cars, fancy clothes. And when it came time to apply for college aid, we both filled out our applications. I didn't get a penny in Federal financial aid because I got a note back that said: Dear Sir, Your family saved too much.
Your family saved too much.
My buddy next door--fancy cars, fancy houses, fancy clothes, he got back a note that said: Congratulations, you qualify for a subsidized college education.
You qualify for a subsidized college education.
Why? Because in all of these flush years that your family has had, you spent it all. So now in your time of need, you have nothing and you qualify for a bonus.
Mr. Speaker, that is not anything that makes this country great. What makes this country great is people being able to make their own choices about how they're going to live their life and the Federal Government doesn't bail them out.
Mr. Speaker, you and I weren't here when the bailouts came down the pipe, but I guarantee you that we would've both voted ``no.'' We would have both voted ``no'' for every penny of bailout money that came down the pipe because the American Government is not supposed to be about bailing out anybody. The America Government is supposed to be about protecting the freedom of the American people. And that includes, Mr. Speaker, freedom to fail. Freedom to fail.
You get to make the choices you want to make about your life, but you also have to bear the consequences. If you want to take great risks, if you have great success, you benefit from that. And if you have great failure, you pay the price for that. We cannot insulate people, Mr. Speaker, from the consequences of their actions. But over and over again, that's what the Tax Code does.
Oh, if you lose money, we want to protect you. If you make money, we want to punish you. I don't get that. I don't understand that. Fairness for me is a level playing field for opportunity, not a level playing field for outcomes.
Mr. Speaker, you know we talk every day in this Chamber about jobs; and by talk, we act every day to promote an environment in this Nation that grows jobs.
What do you think, Mr. Speaker, the American Tax Code does when a multinational corporation is trying to decide where it's going to put its next plant? What do you think it does? Because I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, with absolute certainty that America has the highest corporate tax rate of any nation on the planet. The number one highest.
So you're a business person, Mr. Speaker. Where do you want to locate? Do you want to locate in a country that has ended all of the loopholes, that has restored a fairness to the marketplace for a level playing field, that allows our free enterprise system to work? Or do you want to locate your business in the country that has the single highest corporate tax rate in the world? Those are easy decisions, Mr. Speaker, and companies are making them every day.
I talked to a CEO in my district about 6 months ago. He said, Rob, I'm going to be leaving. He said, The government has made it hard to pack up and leave. It's going to take me about 2 years, but I'm taking every job that's in this district and I'm moving them to Switzerland because it's just not worth doing business in America any more.
Mr. Speaker, we have the hardest working workforce on the planet. We have the best education and transportation infrastructure on the planet. We have the finest education system on the planet. Nobody, nobody gives you more bang for your buck than the American worker, and yet people are deciding to take those jobs overseas. Why? It's not the American workers' fault, Mr. Speaker. It's our fault as we have crafted a Tax Code that doesn't work, as we have crafted a regulatory structure that doesn't work. But the good news is--and it's good news, Mr. Speaker--that there's nothing wrong with America that this body can't fix. Because I'll tell you, Mr. Speaker, there's nothing wrong with America that this body didn't cause.
Government is not the solution to our problems, and many times government is the creator of our problems. I do not want this body, no matter how august, I do not want my 435 colleagues, no matter how well-studied and well-intended, to decide for me how my life should be led. That's never been what America was about. What America is about is making your own decisions for yourself, making your own decisions for your family, and knowing with absolute certainty, Mr. Speaker, absolute certainty, that by the sweat of your brow, by the power of your ideas, by the commitment that you make, you can make your tomorrow better than your today.
I'll tell you, that's the American Dream, Mr. Speaker. It's not about how much money you have in your pocket. It's not about what kind of house you live in or what kind of car you drive. It's about that you can decide today that you're going to take actions for yourself and for your family and you're going to make tomorrow better.
Hope, Mr. Speaker. Hope is a priceless commodity. A priceless commodity. And I fear we're not growing hope in this country, Mr. Speaker, like we used to. I fear we are extinguishing the candle of hope in this country. And not out of malice, Mr. Speaker. That's what makes it so insidious. It's not out of malice. It's out of folks who believe in their heart deep down inside that they're passing these policies because they want to make America better.
Mr. Speaker, America was better when Americans were running America. The whole idea of a Republic isn't that we get to be king of this land collectively. Our job is simple. It is to protect the freedom of individuals back home so that individuals back home can make the decisions that work best for them.
I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, I come from the great State of Georgia. We're a little conservative in our part of the world and proud of it. If anyone is looking for a good conservative part of the world to be a part of, I invite you to come down. We've got some good real estate prices and a good job market. Come on down and be a part of what we have, Mr. Speaker.
But I read a story about my friends in California. Now, I enjoy visiting California. I don't want to move there. But it was a story about the Teamsters unionizing marijuana growers in California because medicinal marijuana is a big business out there in California these days. And so they unionized the marijuana growers. So if you work hard, apply yourself and join the union, you can be a junior marijuana grower at $25 an hour I'm told. And if you really work hard and really apply yourself, you can exceed where you start and become a senior marijuana grower and get close to $35 an hour. That's what I'm hold.
Mr. Speaker, I think that's wonderful for those folks in California. We're not bringing unionized marijuana-growing to the great State of Georgia. I'm not trying to stop the folks in California from doing what they want to do, but it's not going to come to our great State of Georgia. And that's what makes this country great. We can choose for ourselves, as individuals, as families, as communities, and as States how it is that we want to live our life--but not with the United States Tax Code.
Mr. Speaker, the Tax Code manipulates every facet of your life--every facet of your life. If you're going to buy a green car, we're going to pay you money. If you buy a car that burns too much gasoline, we're going to charge you a fuel premium. If you receive your income from dividends, we're going to give you a tax break. If you receive your income from working hard on the line every day, you're going to pay full freight. If you've had a great year this year, even if you hadn't made another penny in the rest of your life, we're going to tax you like you're rich. If you make a little bit this year, even though you've made millions every other year for the rest of your life, we're going to tax you like you're poor.
Mr. Speaker, we manipulate behavior in line item after line item after line item in the United States Code; and, candidly, folks on both sides of the aisle defend it. They defend it as if we're really smart here. And I'll tell you, folks here work hard. I'm not down on Congress. Folks here in Congress work hard. But they don't know everything, nor can they, nor should they be burdened with that responsibility. But that's what happens in the Tax Code: let me pass this tax incentive, because if only we encourage this behavior, all of America will be happier. And it's easy to hide things in the Tax Code. Again, it's 75,000 pages.
Mr. Speaker, I encourage you to take a look at H.R. 25, again, the single most widely cosponsored piece of fundamental tax reform legislation in either the House or the Senate. And, in fact, it's the most widely cosponsored piece of tax reform legislation in both Chambers. It ends every loophole.
Mr. Speaker, you hear folks every day down here on the House floor: I want you to end the loopholes for rich people; I want you to end the loopholes for oil companies; I want you to end the loopholes for Solyndra and the solar companies; I want you to end loophole, loophole, loophole, loophole. Mr. Speaker, there's one bill in the House that does it all, and its H.R. 25. No loopholes, no exemptions. We all pay the same. And it lets our free enterprise system work, Mr. Speaker.
We talk about creating jobs in this country, Mr. Speaker. We have to do that. But our Tax Code is destroying jobs. We have to create new jobs; but, Mr. Speaker, that's hard. Preserving the jobs we already have has to be a part of that. And yet we run jobs overseas each and every day in large part because of our Tax Code.
More importantly, Mr. Speaker, the FairTax is revenue neutral. So many folks think about a conservative Republican like me liking every tax cut he can get his hands on. I do. I'm a big proponent of leaving more money in individuals' pockets. I will always believe the American family will spend their own money better than we will spend it on their behalf in Washington. Always. But, Mr. Speaker, there are bills to pay in Washington. We do need to support our troops, we do need to defend our homeland, and we do need to protect our border. And so the FairTax brings in every penny of revenue that we bring in today. It's revenue neutral.
In fact, given the bill that's in front of the Senate right now on payroll taxes, we're actually going to bring in more revenue with the FairTax than we bring in with the current system, but it's designed to be revenue neutral because I know that we must pay taxes. But we mustn't make it hard to do. That's a choice we've made in this body, and it's the wrong one.
Mr. Speaker, take a look at H.R. 25, the FairTax. You can find out all about it at www.fairtax.org, all the information, all the studies. We started with a blank sheet of paper, we came up with a plan that starts everyone on a level playing field. And so far, Mr. Speaker, we've attracted enough cosponsors on both sides of the Hill to make it the single most popular fundamental tax reform bill in Congress.
I thank you for giving me this time this afternoon to talk about it, and I yield back the balance of my time.