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GOP Freshman Class on Comprehensive Tax Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. AUSTIN SCOTT of Georgia. Thank you. I will tell you the key to this is open and honest debate.

We hear a lot from the President and from Democrats today about America's millionaires not paying their fair share. And they, quite honestly, quote Warren Buffett and talk about the Buffett rule. And certainly I'm happy that Mr. Buffett lives in a country like I do where he's able to achieve what he has. But Warren Buffett is a billionaire, not a millionaire.

Now, let's talk about who America's millionaires are. In my part of the country, farmland sells for about $3,500 an acre. So if you own 285 acres of land that you farm, you're a millionaire. In other parts of the country, it may sell for as much as $15,000 an acre. And if you're a farm family with 66 acres, that's one of America's millionaires.

These are hardworking, middle-income Americans who have saved all their lives to pay for the farm. We need to work to protect these family farms so the next generation can carry on their legacy. We hear a lot about that--protecting the American farmer--from the other side of the aisle. Yet they propose tax policies that do the exact opposite and very much would destroy our agricultural industry and the safety net that it provides this country.

In fact, if you follow their tax policy, America's farmers will simply be another statistic. What statistic? As it stands today, approximately 30 percent of family businesses will be passed on to the family's second generation--only in America--12 percent will make it to the third generation, and only 3 percent of all family businesses make it to the fourth generation or beyond. For a family farmer, for a small business owner, that's very disheartening. However, if the President has his way, those percentages will be even lower.

On January 1, 2013, the death tax will rise from the dead again, re-ordained by President Obama, and return with a rate of as much as 55 percent. Again, in my part of the country, a middle-income family farmer in my part of the country who owns more than 285 acres of land could be assessed a death tax of as much as 55 percent of what they try to leave to the next generation. That's what the President defines as the family farmer's ``fair share.''

Mr. Speaker, family farms are a significant and reliable food source for our country and the world, and they play a vital role in our Nation's national security. However, under the President's death tax proposal, family farmers will be forced to downsize their operations chunk by chunk, selling their assets to pay for what amounts to nothing other than the seizure of the family farm. Many may shut down and have to sell everything just to cover the cost.

I think of the song by Crosby, Stills & Nash that said: ``Tax the rich, feed the poor, 'til there are no rich no more.'' This is certainly the attitude of the current administration.

The truth is you simply can't feed the hungry without the family farmer. They play a vital role in everything we are and do as Americans.

Mr. Speaker, you want more hungry people in America? You want a decline in family businesses and higher unemployment? Follow the President's proposal on the death tax, because that's exactly where it leads. It's the seizure of assets of the family farmers and the family businesses in America. I promise you, if that happens, there will be more hungry people in America.


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