PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 2352, JOB CREATION THROUGH ENTREPRENEURSHIP ACT OF 2009 -- (House of Representatives - May 20, 2009)
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Mr. ROSKAM. Thank you. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.
You know, I offered an amendment to the Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act, H.R. 2352, and it's one of those bill titles that is sort of inarguable. Who can simply be against job creation through entrepreneurship? Nobody. So I put forth an amendment to bring some predictability to this entire debate that we're having or, frankly, that we're not having about the death tax, because the death tax, as you know, is a crushing tax. It's a tax that is imposed on success that has been created many times through generations who have worked, who, ironically, have paid taxes on their businesses and who are looking for some sense of predictability into the future.
What is happening, coming from this Congress, is sort of an orthodoxy that has developed that says we're going to sort of make it up as we go along. Here we have the Energy and Commerce Committee that has been dealing with foisting another tax burden. The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee characterized this--and I'm paraphrasing--as a tax that is the cap-and-tax initiative. There is no other way to describe it. Yet here was this simple amendment that would have repealed the death tax and that would have brought some predictability into it. Just on a party vote, it was sort of swatted aside. I'm told by listening this morning that it was characterized as unimportant. Well, I'll tell you what. For companies in my district, for small businesses in the suburbs of Chicago, the death tax is not an unimportant issue. Let me just highlight a couple of the entities that are in favor of the death tax repeal:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the National Federation of Independent Business, which the gentlelady referenced a minute ago; the National Association of Manufacturers; the National Small Business Association; the National Association of Realtors; the S Corporation Association of America; the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. We know dozens and dozens, if not hundreds and if not thousands, of small companies, entrepreneurs, and self-employed folks who understand fundamentally how important this issue is.
So it shouldn't be characterized in sort of the inner sanctum of the Rules Committee as unimportant when all of these entities have stepped forward and have said, No, no, no. This is vital. This is not unimportant. This is vital, and it ought not be swatted away. It ought just not be said that we're not going to allow a roll call vote on this and that the only way you're going to be able to raise this issue is to sort of scrap along and bring it up in a rules debate. The House is going to be completely silent? Think about the signal that that sends to the small business person. Think about the signal that that sends to the entrepreneur. Think about the signal that this Congress is sending to the self-employed. It is sending a signal that says there is no predictability into the future based on what this Congress is going to do.
I would suggest that we are in an economic situation the likes of which none of us have ever seen before. We're in an economic situation the likes of which no generation has really ever seen before, and the pace of change is moving so quickly that it's very difficult for folks to get their arms and their heads around it. The Rules Committee had an opportunity to say, Look, once and for all, let's get this done. Once and for all, let's get this death tax repealed off the books. Take away the ambiguity so that people know what they're doing in the future.
It is said that up to $25,000 a year is spent by small businesses, on average, just for attorneys and for consultant fees in order to figure out how it is that they need to arrange assets, to put it in different places and to title it in certain ways so that they can best get the advantage for their families. For a Congress that has come along and has sort of given lip service to small business and has given lip service to entrepreneurship--I mean think about it. This is the bill title that we're talking about right now: Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act. I mean, hey, fabulous little language, but you know what? If you want to create jobs, if you want to create opportunity, if you want to help entrepreneurs, the way to do that, in part, is to repeal the death tax.
So I am really disappointed that the majority on the Rules Committee was just entirely dismissive of it, was sort of plugging their procedural ears, and was unwilling to offer the opportunity to simply have a debate in the people's House about the death tax.
What is it that is so unpleasant. What is it that is so difficult? What is it politically that folks are gun shy to take this issue up? Do you know what it is? It is the clarity with which this issue speaks throughout the entire country, and I think that this Congress has missed a golden opportunity. It is with deep regret that I stand in opposition to this rule.
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Mr. ROSKAM. Thank you. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.
Briefly, in response to the gentleman from Colorado, he raised two interesting points. They were procedural points largely, and I would just like to speak to them. As I recall, one was germaneness and the other one was PAYGO.
I think it's disappointing that the Rules Committee majority decides to impose these standards on certain bills and then decides to ignore these standards on certain bills. To act as if the majority is as pure as the wind-driven snow on PAYGO is a mischaracterization of past conduct. This is a majority that has run roughshod over its own rules in the past. So, on the PAYGO side, people in my district would characterize that as ``spare me.''
Now, on the germaneness, here we look at the rule, and the rule in paragraph 5 waives all points of order against the amendment in the nature of a substitute, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. In other words, the rule, by declaration, can take care of the germaneness issue. So let's not hide behind procedure here. Let's not hide behind a rule book that the majority has been very, very willing to cast aside in the past to advance its own agenda.
Instead, why don't we come together. Why don't we come together and say, You know what? Let's do something that we absolutely know is going to help small businesses. Let's do something that we absolutely know is going to help the self-employed, that we absolutely know is going to help the entrepreneur, because if you're interacting with those folks across the country who are really the ones who we all give lip service to, who are really the ones to whom we all say, Well, this is the group that creates jobs, then why in the world are we putting this albatross around their necks? Why in the world are we allowing this ambiguity? They don't know if they're afoot or on horseback on this thing, and it's not fair.
You know what? This Congress can do something about it. This Congress can create predictability. If it chooses to, this Congress can say to that small business owner and to that family who has created through work and risk and toil, Look, we're not going to come through here with a confiscatory tax that takes from one generation to another. You know, we've seen enough generational theft, frankly, that has come through this Congress, where one generation has piled on debt, upon debt, upon debt, upon debt on our children. It is, frankly, irresponsible.
From George Washington to George W. Bush, we've seen how it took 43 American Presidents, Mr. Speaker, to create $5.1 trillion in debt. Yet, with this majority and with this administration, doubling that amount in 5 years and tripling that amount of money in 10 years is simply staggering.
Here we have a simple amendment that the Rules Committee sort of looks at and says, Oh, no, no, no, no, no. We're not interested. It's not important.
Not important? Not important to the folks in my district? Not important to the businesses and to the entrepreneurs in suburban Chicago? Not important? It's vitally important. This Rules Committee needs to do better. This Rules Committee needs to be bringing things to the floor that create prosperity and that create opportunity.
With all due respect to this bill--and I'm sure it's a fine bill--you know what? It falls short of what the possibilities are, because when something is so important as the predictability of the repeal of the death tax and it is simply swatted away--just sort of all the Democrats ``yes'' or all the Democrats ``no'' and all the Republicans ``yes'' and that's the amount of discussion it gets--then, frankly, it's not good enough. It's not good enough for the constituents whom I represent, who are deeply disappointed by the way in which this rule has come about. The underlying bill could be fabulous, but you know what? This rule is deeply disappointing, and I urge opposition to it.