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Joint Hearing of the Human Resources Subcommittee and the Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee - How Welfare and Tax Benefits Can Discourage Work


Location: Washington, DC

Thank you, Chairman Davis. It's a pleasure to have this opportunity to hold a joint hearing between our subcommittees.

Providing an adequate safety net for Americans who have fallen on hard times is a non-partisan issue in Congress. It's something all of us agree on. As is making sure government does not stand in the way of Americans who want to work to achieve a better life and to fulfill the American Dream.

I know first-hand of the need for a safety net. When I was in high school, my father lost his job and lost his pension. My sisters and I were on the free and reduced lunch program at our high school. These programs gave our family hope. But my parents got back on their feet, and their hard work is again being rewarded. What is dangerous with the tax code is that it appears to be saying to people who are down on their luck that they will be penalized if they turn their luck around.

Comprehensive tax reform is a chance to fix this problem. In tax reform, we should ensure low-income Americans are not punished through extraordinarily high implicit marginal rates. We should reduce complexity as well -- compared to the current code where, for instance, taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit are more likely to use tax preparers costing them money from their own pockets.

I look forward to discussing how to fix these issues with the witnesses today.

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