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Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, earlier this week President Obama reiterated his desire to raise taxes on small businesses earning over $250,000 a year. I and all of my Republican colleagues oppose this tax hike for the same reason the President himself opposed it 2 years ago--because raising taxes would only make a bad economy worse.
But here it comes again--sort of like a bad penny--the liberal crusade for more government, regardless of the circumstances, the impact it would have on working Americans or the broader economy.
On Monday the President issued the following reckless ultimatum: Let me raise taxes on about 1 million business owners, and I promise I won't raise taxes on everybody else.
In the face of 41 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent, the President is begging Congress to let him raise taxes on the very businesses the American people are counting on to create jobs.
It is the exact opposite, of course, of what is needed. For some reason, he thinks a tax hike is his ticket to reelection. He says it is fair.
Well, I don't think most Americans think it is particularly fair for a government that doesn't do a thing to live within its means to take more money away from those who have worked and sacrificed to earn it, only to waste it on some solar company or on one more government program we can't afford.
We have seen this movie too many times in the past. Frankly, we don't have the luxury to waste any more time arguing about a question that is already settled for most people. The problem here isn't that the government taxes too little but that it spends too much.
What the American people need right now isn't a lecture on fairness; they would like to have some certainty. That is why today I am going to call on the Senate to provide just that. I have already called for a 1-year extension of all the current income tax rates.
Today I will go further by asking consent that we set up two votes in the Senate: one on the President's proposal to raise taxes on nearly 1 million business owners in the middle of the worst economic recovery in modern times, and another that would extend current income tax rates for 1 year and task the Finance Committee to produce a bill that would enact fundamental, progrowth tax reform.
It has been over a quarter century since we last did comprehensive tax reform. We all agree, on a bipartisan basis, that we need to do it again.
The Senate should make itself clear which policy it supports, and this is our chance to do it.
On Monday, the President said if the Senate passes this tax hike on small businesses, he would sign it right away. That is what he said 2 days ago, on Monday. I can't see why our friends on the other side would not want to give him the chance.
With that, I ask unanimous consent that at 2 p.m. today the motion to proceed to S. 2237 be adopted, and that the first two amendments in order to the bill be the Hatch-McConnell amendment No. 2491, which would provide for the extension of current rates while we work on tax reform, and a Reid or designee amendment to enact the President's proposal, which, as I have said, would impose job-killing tax hikes on nearly 1 million businessowners.
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Mr. McCONNELL. Let me simplify this for everybody. On Monday the President asked that we have the vote I have just offered to the majority. We have a clear contrast here. We have 41 straight months of unemployment over 8 percent. If this is a recovery, it is the most tepid recovery in modern times. The President's solution to that is to raise taxes on about 1 million small business owners, representing about 53 percent of small business income and up to 25 percent of the workforce.
We are on a different bill that my friend the majority leader is talking about, that I understand would be slipped by the House in any event. Clearly, what we are doing this week is having a political discussion, not seriously legislating. So my recommendation is that we give the President what he asked for. He wants to have a vote on raising taxes on individuals making over $250,000 a year, which, of course, includes almost 1 million small businesses that pay taxes as individuals, not as corporations--they are either S corps or LLCs--the most successful small businesses in America, in fact. That is a vote we welcome. It is a vote the President is asking for, and it is a vote I just asked for.
Senator Hatch, our leader on the Finance Committee, here on the floor right behind me today, has advocated that we extend the current tax rates for 1 year--the same thing the President, I would say to my friend from Utah, wanted to do 2 years ago, at that time arguing it would be bad for the economy not to do that. And the growth then was actually better than it is now. We think we ought to vote on that. It would give Senator Hatch and Senator Baucus and the people on the Finance Committee a year to work us through comprehensive tax reform. Again, it has been a quarter of a century since we have done that.
Why not have those votes today? That is what my consent agreement is about. I am a little surprised we are not willing to give the President what he asked for, which is a vote on a clear distinction for the American people so they can understand how the two sides look at this important issue. It could not be more clear.
Madam President, I yield the floor.
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Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I think we have witnessed here a new definition of a filibuster. My good friend the majority leader, I gather, is accusing me of filibustering when I am trying to get a vote--not one but two votes--on what he says he is for, what the President says he is for, and a vote on what Republicans are for. So we have here a brandnew definition of a filibuster. Even when you are trying to get votes and they are objected to by the other side, somehow that is a filibuster.
Now, my good friend talks about what would help small businesses. I think we ought to ask them would they prefer the underlying bill, which the majority leader has called up and we have voted to proceed to, or would they prefer not to have their taxes go up at the end of the year? Talk about a no-brainer. I don't think there is any question what small businesses would rather have.
But we are certainly not filibustering. We enjoy discussing our differences of opinion on the tax issue. There couldn't be anything more important to the American people if we are going to get this economy going again. And certainly trying to set up two votes--No. 1 on what the President is asking for and No. 2 on what Republicans think is a better alternative--could not, in my view, be the definition of a filibuster.
So Senator Hatch is here--and obviously the majority leader can speak again if he wishes--and he is going to address the matter as well, but I wish to thank him again for his conspicuous leadership on the Finance Committee. We are looking to him to work us through this comprehensive tax reform matter again next year. It is going to be extremely important for the country, and I thank him for his good work.
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