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Introduction of the Fairness in the American Tax Code Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the ``Fairness in the American Tax Code Act of 2011.''

* During these difficult economic times, the wealthiest of Americans should be paying their fair share in taxes. Our nation's unemployment rate is over nine percent and yet, we have the lowest tax rates in decades. Why are we giving tax breaks to Wall Street CEOs and Big Oil Executives, instead of helping the millions of Americans who are struggling.

* Thanks to loopholes in the tax code, M. Speaker, the rich keep getting richer. The top one percent of earners are responsible for 20 percent of the nation's annual income, up from 10 percent in 1981. The wealthiest CEOs are paid 400 times what the average worker earns. Only 30 years ago, it was 20 times as much.

* Since President Ronald Reagan started lowering tax rates up until President George W. Bush slashed capital gains and income tax rates for the wealthy to their current historic lows, the wealthy have continued to pay less and less in taxes. As I travel throughout my district, into areas where the unemployment rate is over 40 percent, I ask myself where are the jobs and where did all the money go?

* Americans in the highest tax bracket are supposed to pay 35 percent of their income in taxes. However, since President Bush slashed the capital gains rate to 15 percent, the top 400 wealthiest Americans, for example, pay only 15 percent in taxes on 80 percent of their income. As the law is currently written, any wealthy American paying the full 35 percent needs to get a new accountant.

* My bill simply asks the wealthiest to pay their fair share. It produces a progressive ``job creation'' surtax for those making more than $350,000. The surtax increases gradually until those with incomes over $10 million are paying the same amount on all their income as the legally required statutory rate. M. Speaker, it is time for the wealthiest of Americans to pay their fair share in taxes.

* An editorial in the New York Times recently noted: ``Critics also claim that raising the capital gains rate would hamstring investment. But economists studying the historical record have concluded that the effect is small, dwarfed by considerations like profit growth. The truth is that despite the current low tax rates, American businesses--small and big--are investing very little. Business surveys show that the main reason is that there are very few customers with money to buy their products.''

* The wealthiest Americans have rigged the tax system in their favor to the detriment of the middle class. They've changed the rules to their own financial advantage. My bill will make our nation's tax code fairer.

* Mr. Speaker, investing in America is the only way that we are going to create jobs. The Fairness in the American Tax Code Act of 2011 ensures the investments made for strictly personal gains are investments that will actually create jobs in America. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me
in supporting this critically important piece of legislation that will help to put our nation's economy back on track.

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