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Mr. HOEVEN. I rise today to discuss the need for progrowth tax reform. I came to the floor last week, I have been here this week on the subject, and I am here again today to talk about the need to get started and get going right now on the progrowth tax reform that will unleash private investment in this country and help us grow our economy and create jobs for the more than 13 million people we have unemployed today.
The current Tax Code changes at the end of the year. If we fail to act, the current Tax Code changes. That is a fact. Simply put, tax rates go up. The income tax rates rise. Capital gains taxes go up. The death tax goes up.
Today, we voted on a measure regarding outsourcing. Its goal was to encourage U.S. companies to invest and hire workers in the United States rather than overseas. But, at best--at best--that is a piecemeal approach. The reality is, the tax increases that will occur at the end of the year will do far more to drive investment and employment overseas than any measure like the one we considered today. Those increases to the tax rates on small businesses across this country will have a much bigger impact than any single measure like the one that was offered today.
So think about it. By not extending the current tax rates, we will have a business climate that makes it harder to do business in this country. It seems to me that makes the solution pretty simple. Let's extend the current tax rates for 1 year, and let's set up a process to engage in progrowth tax reform that will empower small businesses--millions of small businesses across this country--to do what they do best; that is, to invest and hire people, to put Americans back to work.
The question is, Why aren't we doing it? By setting up a process to undertake comprehensive, progrowth tax reform over the next year, everyone has a chance to provide their input and to provide their ideas, to offer their legislation, Republicans and Democrats alike. In fact, formats have already been proposed, formats such as Simpson-Bowles, Domenici-Rivlin, groups such as the Gang of 6 and others that have put forward different concepts. So there is absolutely no reason to wait.
The question is not are we or are we not going to do it. The reality is, we have to do it. The reality is we have to do it to get our economy going. So let's get started. President Obama needs to join with us in this effort. Look at our economy. Look at the statistics since President Obama took office.
Unemployment. We have 8.2 percent unemployment. Unemployment has been over 8 percent for 41 straight months. We have 13 million people in this country unemployed--13 million people in this country looking for work--and we have another 10 million who are underemployed; that is, 23 million people either unemployed or underemployed.
Middle class income. Middle class income has declined from approximately $55,000 annually to $50,000 since the current administration took office.
Food stamps. Food stamp usage has increased dramatically, from 32 million recipients to 46 million recipients.
Home values. Home values have dropped. Home values have dropped, on average, from $169,000 to $148,000.
Economic growth. GDP, gross domestic product, growth is the weakest for any recovery since World War II.
Job creation last month. Mr. President, 80,000 jobs were created. But it takes 150,000 jobs each and every month just to keep up with population growth to actually reduce the unemployment rate.
So these facts speak for themselves. These are the facts. The President's approach to our economy is making it worse, and his failure to join with us to extend the lower tax rates and engage in progrowth tax reform is sitting on our economy like a big wet blanket. But we can change that. We can change that right now. We can change that by extending the current tax rates and by together, on a bipartisan basis, with the administration, joining in a process to put in place progrowth tax reform and at the same time getting control of our spending.
Business investment and economic activity would respond immediately. Look at the latest information from the Congressional Budget Office, the CBO. The CBO projects the economy will contract--will contract--by 1.3 percent on an annualized rate for the first 6 months of next year, meeting the definition of ``recession'' if the fiscal cliff we now face is not addressed. Overall, the economy, based on the CBO projection for next year, would grow by only one-half of 1 percent for the entire year. That compares to a 4.4-percent growth rate for next year if the fiscal cliff is avoided.
Granted, that fiscal cliff includes not only addressing the tax increases that would go into effect but also sequestration. But we have put forward ideas to address sequestration as well. Clearly, the tax piece is a huge part of what drives that difference in economic growth--the difference between one-half of 1 percent and over 4 percent economic growth next year.
Think of what that means in terms of employment to the people who are looking for a job. Think of what that means in terms of growth in the economy and revenue growth to help address our deficit and our debt. All that stands to reason because business needs certainty. Business needs certainty to invest, to grow, to hire more people.
With legal, tax, and regulatory certainty--not more government spending but with legal, tax, and regulatory certainty, businesses in this country will invest and grow and put people back to work. There is more cash, there is more private capital on the sidelines now than ever before in our history. With the uncertainty about what the Tax Code is going to be, that investment will continue to be sidelined rather than deployed in ventures that will create jobs.
The longer we go, the more uncertainty. That means slow economic growth; that means higher unemployment; that means more people out of work rather than finding a job; and it means less revenue to help reduce our deficit and our debt. Clearly, that is not the way to go.
President Obama, however, says: But wait a minute. Everyone needs to pay their fair share. So he is proposing tax increases on that basis. Of course, everyone needs to pay their fair share. But the way to ensure that gets accomplished is with progrowth tax reform and closing loopholes. That is exactly what we have proposed--not by raising taxes on more than 1 million small businesses across this country, which is what the President has proposed.
Let's extend the current tax rates for 1 year. Let's set up a process to pass comprehensive, progrowth tax reform that lowers rates, closes loopholes, that is fairer, that is simpler and that will generate revenue to reduce our deficit and our debt through economic growth rather than through higher taxes. In reality, that is the only way we will get our economy going, and that along with controlling our spending will reduce our deficit and our debt and it will put Americans back to work.
Leadership is all about finding common ground. President Obama needs to join with us to find common ground on this issue. We have offered it. We are offering it right now. I hope the President will join with us in this endeavor. It is simple. It is straightforward. It is what the American people want and what they need and we need to get started right now.
With that, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
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