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America's Greatest Generation - Our Senior Citizens

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. SCHMIDT. I thank my good friend from Missouri.

You know, I often talk about kitchen table politics in this well because as Ronald Reagan said in his farewell speech, all good ideas begin at the dinner table. And they do.

Look at this poster. This is a poster that I think really illustrates what's going on in families all across America, including our seniors, and that is, how are we going to pay our bills, and how are we going to move to the future? It's a huge issue, and it's one that this Congress needs to address in many ways.

The U.S. Census says that over 40 million Americans today are 65 years or older, almost 20 percent of our American families. Almost 20 percent of those sitting around that kitchen table. These are an incredible group of people. These are the people who fought in World War II, that created the Greatest Generation. They fought in Korea, sustaining the Greatest Generation. And today, they are now faced with so much anxiety and uncertainty in our Nation.

One of the things that I think we have to do in Congress is to erase that anxiety, whether it's through the financial markets, to ensure that we are putting forth programs that allow our banking systems to work effectively so that they don't have to be concerned with what the cost of banking is going to be or what their financial assets are going to be, to make sure that our businesses are flourishing in this country and are not saddled with unnecessary regulations that constrict them from going forward, to move within the economy. In other words, we have to get our economy moving. It is so important for our Nation, especially for our seniors.

But I think that there are some other things that we have to talk about with our seniors as well. You know, as we sit around the kitchen table and we worry about our bills, they also worry about, not just how they're going to pay their income tax, but the mammoth issue of paying the income tax. And for seniors, instead of having to go to an accountant and use their precious dollars to figure the whole system out, maybe we should pass H.R. 1058, the Senior Tax Simplification Act of 2011. You know, this is a bipartisan bill. If passed, it would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to make available a new Federal income tax form similar to the 1040-EZ form for people who have turned over 65. It would make the completion of the Federal income tax return simpler, faster, easier, and less costly for most of our American hardworking seniors.

I think another bill that we have to really look at, and this is the one that I really want to focus the rest of my talk on, is the repeal of the death tax. This is an issue that I've had to personally face in my life. I grew up on a family farm, and there's nothing better than being raised on a farm. It's the best way you can raise a family, and you do a lot of talking at that kitchen table.

When my dad was seeing his declining days, he realized if he didn't do something, hire a fancy attorney at a lot of money an hour, he wouldn't be able to pass that farm along to his kids. So he did some estate planning, but it wasn't enough. And at the end of the day when my father passed away, my brother, sister, and I had to make a collective decision to sell personal assets to just be able to keep that farm because we want our children and our grandchildren to have the same experience that we had.

And I think, how often is this occurring unnecessarily? And it's not just the family farm, it's the family business, whether it is a manufacturing business, whether it's a winery, whatever the business is. If it's a family business, why do we have to worry as we see our declining years how we're going to do some tax structures and pay an insurance plan and whatever else is out there to try to keep a part of it for our children.

It's counterproductive, because in the end the Federal Government may get a piece of money at your death. But that's the end of the money they'll ever get from you or your family.

Ending the death tax won't hurt our economy. It will only improve our economy. And for our seniors that sit around that kitchen table that may be what we call land poor--have a lot of money in the land, but not a lot of money in the bank--they won't be forced to make the same decisions so many of my friends had to make when I went to their family funerals. And they said, By gosh, we're going to keep Dad and Mom's farm. We're not going to get rid of it. They weren't as fortunate as my sister, my brothers, and I were that we had some personal assets that we could use to keep our farm. They had to sell theirs. And what's left, brick and mortar?

It's a serious issue. We need to repeal it. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do this. It will not only move our economy forward, but for our hardworking American seniors it will alleviate that anxiety at the kitchen table.

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