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Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I rise today to speak on the need for progrowth tax reform.
Recently, President Obama--in fact, on Monday--in a speech proposed a plan to raise tax rates rather than continuing the current tax rates. That means raising taxes on individuals and small businesses and raising the capital gains tax on investment--not only the income tax, but also the capital gains tax on small businesses, individuals, capital gains tax on investments. It also means raising the death tax on American families--the estate tax.
He made that proposal even though he has repeatedly said we cannot raise taxes in a recession. He has made that statement repeatedly in recent years, that we cannot raise taxes in a recession because it would hurt the economy, and raising taxes would hurt job creation.
But here we were on Monday, and he proposed we raise the tax rates. This is at a time when we have 8.2 percent unemployment; in fact, we have been over 8 percent unemployment for 41 straight months. We have 13 million people who are unemployed whom we want to get back to work, and we have another 10 million who are underemployed. On the order of 23 million people are either unemployed or underemployed.
Since this administration has taken office, middle-class income has declined from approximately $55,000 to about $50,000. The number of people on food stamps has grown from 32 million recipients to 46 million recipients. Home values have dropped from an average of about $169,000 to an average of about $148,000. In the area of economic growth, GDP growth is the weakest of any recovery post-World War II. The last quarter, it was reported that it was about a 1.9-percent increase over the prior quarter.
In the area of job creation, the report for June, as far as the number of jobs gained in the month, came out last week. In June, we gained about 80,000 jobs. That is far short of the 150,000 jobs we need to grow each month just to keep up with population growth.
So now the President says the solution is to raise taxes on our job creators. This week, after the President's speech--as I said, he spoke on Monday--I received a letter from a small business owner in my State of North Dakota. I know this individual. In fact, he has a hardware store in Bismarck. I have often gone there for items I need when I am working on my home. In fact, last year, when we had terrible flooding throughout North Dakota, in Minot and other communities--we had flooding in Bismarck, and my home is along the Missouri River and was in the way of the flood--I often went there to get needed items. He runs a good business, a good small business, and it is very helpful. He sent me this letter after the President's speech on Monday. I will read it. It is short:
The president's recent comments on raising taxes on high income earners concern me greatly. Perhaps he just doesn't understand that for people like me, who own a business, the bulk of those earnings actually go to the bank payments for what I borrowed to be here. I am actually in danger of being taxed to a point of no living wage for myself. The taxes and bank payments come first. Out of an income that classifies me as rich, I actually take $40,000 home to my family. How much more do they want?
John, you've shopped in my store, you've seen all how we have grown, and you know people like me would use every available dime to grow more. This president's programs not only limit my company's potential to grow, but they destroy any incentive to work and hire more people. I just don't know if he doesn't understand what he's doing, or just doesn't care.
Please, Senator Hoeven, share with your partners in the Senate how critical an issue this is for small business owners like me. Oh, and Thanks for Shopping at Ace when you're home in Bismarck.
Jeffrey Hinz, Kirkwood Ace Hardware.
I think Jeff sums it up well--better than I could. Jeff represents millions of small businesses across this country that are the very backbone of our economy. They hire the people, they pay the wages, they pay the taxes. They fuel the growth and the dynamism of our economy. In short, they make our economy go. Small business in this country makes our economy go.
Yet the President's proposal would raise taxes on about 1 million business owners, hurting their ability to grow our economy, hurting our ability to get those 13 million unemployed people back to work.
That is not the way to go. Very clearly, that is not the way to go. This administration's policies are making it worse. But the President says everyone needs to pay their fair share. How many times have you heard him say that? Well, of course, everyone needs to pay their fair share. But the way to do it is with progrowth tax reform and closing loopholes, not by raising taxes on some people, some businesses, and not others.
That is what we have proposed. We have proposed progrowth tax reform and closing loopholes. Let's extend the current tax rates for 1 year and set up a process to pass progrowth tax reforms that lower rates, close loopholes, are fair, simpler, and will generate the revenue to reduce our debt and deficit, along with savings and spending less--controlling government spending, but that will generate the economic growth to drive revenue, not higher taxes.
The reality is that is the only way to get on top of our debt and deficit and to get people back to work. We need economic growth to reduce the debt and deficit, along with more savings at the Federal level, controlling spending, and we need economic growth to get people working again.
That is why we have put forward our approach--a simple approach--to extend the current tax rates for another year and set up a process for comprehensive progrowth tax reform. That is the right approach. From 2000 to 2010, I served as the Governor of my State. That is the approach we took. Look at the results in our State of North Dakota. Look at the results in States such as Indiana, where that approach has been taken. It works at the State level. It will work at the Federal level. We need to do it.
I call on President Obama, as well as my colleagues, to engage in this vital effort now for the good of the American people.
With that, I yield the floor.
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