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Mr. HOEVEN. Madam President, I rise to speak about progrowth tax reform. One week ago Monday, President Obama proposed to raise taxes on over 1 million small businesses in this country. Even though he said in the past that we cannot raise taxes in a recession and that higher taxes will hurt our economy and hurt job creation, he proposed raising taxes on more than 1 million small businesses across this country.
Last week I came to the floor to talk about why that is not the right approach and to discuss the approach we should take, the right approach. I pointed out that his approach--the administration's approach--has made our economy worse since he took office.
Here are the facts, and they speak for themselves. Today we have 8.2 percent unemployment. We have had over 8 percent unemployment for 41 straight weeks. We have more than 13 million people who are out of work and another 10 million people who are underemployed. That is 23 million people who are either unemployed or underemployed. Middle-class income has declined from an average of $55,000 down to $50,000 since the President took office. Food stamp usage is up. There were 32 million food stamp recipients at the beginning of the Obama administration; today there are 46 million recipients. We have gone from 32 million people on food stamps to 46 million people on food stamps. Home values have dropped from an average of $169,000 to an average of about $148,000.
Let's talk about economic growth. GDP growth is the weakest for any recovery since World War II. In the last quarter, the rate of growth was 1.9 percent over the prior quarter. There were 82,000 jobs created in the month of June. We need 150,000 jobs gained each month just to keep up with population growth and to reduce the unemployment rolls.
Those are some of the statistics.
When I spoke on the Senate floor last week, I also read a letter from one of my constituents back home who is a small business owner. He owns an Ace Hardware store. In his letter, he stated very clearly and very eloquently that the President's approach with small business is hurting our economy. I am not going to read the full letter, but I do want to read a couple of lines from his letter.
His letter states:
The president's programs not only limit my company's potential to grow, but they destroy any incentive to work and hire more people. I just don't know if he doesn't understand what he's doing, or just doesn't care.
I am taking that right out of a small businessperson's letter. Keep that last line in mind for just a minute.
I just don't know if he--
doesn't understand what he's doing, or just doesn't care.
I referenced that because the President gave a speech last Friday in Roanoke, VA. In his speech, he followed up on his plan to raise taxes on small businesses. I am going to read right from the President's speech. I think it gives insight as to his view of small business and how our economy works.
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me--because they want to give something back. They know they didn't--look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something--there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business--you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
So that is right out of the President's speech in Roanoke, VA, last Friday. I think these comments provide real insight into President Obama's view of our economy and the role of small business in our economy. He says we have all had help in our lives, and that is certainly true. There is no question about that, and I don't think anyone disputes that.
He makes it clear that he believes government, not small business, is the driver of our economy. He says it is government that paves our roads and invented the Internet. In essence, it is government that made successful people successful and government that makes our economy go.
That is just not right. It is small business that makes our economy go. It is small business that made our economy the envy of the world. It is small business that serves as the backbone of our economy, that employs our people, that generates tax revenue to build our roads, creates innovation like the Internet, and that provides Americans with the highest standard of living in the world. Small business is the engine that drives our economy, and we need to get it going. We don't do that by raising taxes and growing government. Clearly, that is not the way to go.
The President says everyone needs to pay their fair share. Well, of course everyone needs to pay their fair share, but the way to ensure that gets accomplished is with comprehensive progrowth tax reform and closing loopholes. Let's extend the current tax rates for 1 year, and let's set up a process to pass comprehensive progrowth tax reform that lowers rates, closes loopholes, that is fair, that is simpler, and that will generate revenue to reduce our deficit and our debt through economic growth rather than through higher taxes. The reality is that is the only way to go--along with reducing government spending--that will get our debt and deficit under control and get our people back to work. To be successful, this effort needs to be bipartisan, and the clock is ticking.
So let's get started. Let's give small business in this country the legal, tax, and regulatory certainty to encourage private investment and innovation. That is the American way. That is the real American success story. We can do it, and we need to make it happen now.
Thank you, Madam President, and I yield the floor. I would also suggest the absence of a quorum.
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