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Public Statements

GOP Freshman Class on Comprehensive Tax Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOODALL. I appreciate my friend from New York for yielding.

You are absolutely right. I have some Fair Tax passion. I believe that there is a better way to create a United States Tax Code, and I believe the Fair Tax is that. H.R. 25, for folks who haven't read it. But the truth is I came down here tonight because I knew that we were going to have that debate of ideas that you're talking about. I mean, whether it's your leadership on this Special Order, whether it's the enthusiasm my friend from Wisconsin brings to the floor, we're talking about the challenges that we face using a different language than we've used in this body before. This is a floor that has been taken over by freshmen here tonight. This is an institution that's been taken over by new ideas. I don't mean just new freshman ideas; I mean new ideas from all aspects of this institution.

I hear my friend from Wisconsin talking, and he comes from a competitive district. There is all this talk about these rabid freshmen, crazy Republicans. The people of Wisconsin, they can choose anybody they want. They don't have to choose Republican. They can choose a Democrat. They can choose an independent. They can choose anybody they want, and they choose him.

His message is not: Look what I am going to go to Washington and get for you. His message is: We don't need a subsidy here because we've got the hardest-working workforce in the world. His message is not: How can I give you an unfair advantage over your neighbors? His message is: How can we make the American economy the most competitive economy in the world, because if we do that, the American worker will succeed because we work harder, better, and longer than anybody else on the planet. That is a different take on what happens in Washington, D.C., and it's a different take on what happens in the Tax Code.

I know my friend from New York sits on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, as does my friend from Tennessee, and you have to have a Ways and Means Committee. For folks who don't sit on that committee, they're the ones who write all the Tax Code. The Tax Code is a complicated thing to do.

What this Ways and Means Committee is doing--and it's important to be said because this is an election year, and a lot of crazy things happen in an election year. There are crazy things like people supporting a Buffett rule to solve deficit problems, a rule that if it had been in place this year and collected that same amount of revenue for the next 250 years, it still would not have balanced the budget from last year. That's right.

This great savior of all that's good that ails us in this country, President Obama's Buffett rule, had it been in place this year, and not just this year but the next 250 years, it had raised that revenue, it still would not have balanced the budget from last year, just the budget gap from last year. We have all this nonsense in a political year.

But what we're getting out of the Ways and Means Committee--and I know my two friends from the Ways and Means Committee wouldn't brag on themselves, so I'm going to brag on you for you. We have had more serious hearings about fundamental tax reform in this Ways and Means Committee over the last 16 months than we've had in the last decade. This is a committee that, by virtue of simplifying the American Tax Code, is going to undo the work of the Ways and Means Committee for decades and decades and decades in the past. They're doing it not to exploit the power of their position; they're doing it to help grow the American economy.

As an alternative to the Buffett rule, I have brought down a chart to demonstrate what happens in today's Tax Code. My friends on the Ways and Means Committee know it all too well. But in today's Tax Code, the folks who have the money benefit from all the loopholes and exceptions and exemptions and carve-out. Of course they do. It makes sense. I will tell you, the folks who have the money are the ones who are paying the taxes, so it certainly makes sense that they are the ones benefiting from the carve-outs.

We have a choice of two futures here. We can either implement the President's Buffett rule, which again, by simple mathematics, will have absolutely no effect either on growing the economy or paying down the deficit, or we can simplify today's Tax Code to make it flatter and fairer.

That's what my friends on the Ways and Means Committee have been working on, Chairman Dave Camp and the rest of the committee, in ways that I have never seen before, with a sincerity that I have never seen before. You're absolutely right, and I appreciate my friend from New York for saying it.

They've said, Bring all comers. Bring all comers. We're not the smartest people in the room. If the idea comes from Lawrenceville, Georgia, bring it. If it comes from Seneca, New York, bring it. If it comes from Chattanooga, Tennessee, bring it. We want all the ideas, and we'll just let the chips fall where they may. That's what's different in this town.

I say to my colleague, what is different in this town with this Republican class is we don't have to rig the game to get to the outcome. We just bring the debates to the floor. Bring the facts to the floor. Let the facts speak for themselves. And then guess what. Have a vote. If it's a good idea, it wins, and if it's a bad idea, it loses. We see both of those happen on this floor every day, and the Ways and Means Committee is leading in this tax process.

This would have been a great year for the Ways and Means Committee--putting my political hat on for a moment--a great year for you all to play some sort of game with the Tax Code. I have seen it happen in Congresses past.

Oh, this is going to be good for reelection. We're going to go do X, Y, or Z. It's not going to happen. It's not going to be real. But we're going to play the game. The folks on this committee this year, the freshmen in the body this year, would rather lose in November, having tried each and every day to do the right thing, than win in November, having played the game the way it's been played for so many years.

So serious is the effort in the Ways and Means Committee that it was included in the House-passed budget this year--flatter, fairer rates, eliminating exemptions, loopholes, carve-outs--all of those things that the American people look at and lose faith in this body. You've stood up to them all. You've stood up to them all in the Ways and Means Committee. We've stood up to them in the Budget Committee to say, No more. There's a better way. And we're going to share with the American people.

I appreciate my colleague for taking on the time tonight. And I ask him to commit this chart to memory. I say to all my other colleagues who might be watching back in their offices that on, you'll find myriad charts to talk about all the things that my friend from Wisconsin discussed and my friend from Kansas discussed and my friend from Florida discussed. It will lay them out in easy-to-see and visualized ways.

But if we want to get a handle on what's happening in America with the discrepancies--call it fairness, call it economic growth, you name your ill--a flatter and fairer tax code is the beginning of that solution, it's not the end. But the Tax Code was not designed to implement social policy. It was designed to collect revenue so that we can run the national defense of this country. And if we get back there, the American economy and the American taxpayer is going to be the beneficiary.

I thank my friend for his leadership tonight.


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