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Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Indiana for yielding. Yesterday, in Norton, KS, the temperature was 118. I read the story where they just watched the thermometer go up degree by degree, and it has now been more than a month in which the temperatures in our State have exceeded 100 degrees. Certainly, it has been more than a month in which we have had little or no rainfall in most places across the State.
The drought is real, and it puts people in a different mood. There is always optimism on a farm, optimism on a ranch. My small business men and women in Kansas are optimistic that when they get up and go to work every day, it will be a better day at the end of the day, and tomorrow will be better than today, and next month will be better than this month. I can tell you, with the weather pattern we have had in the Midwest this summer the optimism begins to disappear.
Today we have come to learn just one more thing that is now going to be oppressive to farmers and ranchers and small business men and women in Kansas and across the country. We started this year with a discussion about something the Department of Labor did--the proposed rules to prohibit restricting a young person from working on a family farm. We have had a series of regulations from the EPA and others that make it so difficult for a small businessperson or a farmer to succeed. Now we learn today the proposal that we are going to revert back to days gone by in which a $1 million estate will be subject to a marginal tax rate of 55 percent.
It has been a series of things in the last year from this administration and this Congress that send a message to farmers and ranchers in Kansas and small business men and women in our State and across the country that their value, their work ethic, their efforts will not be rewarded. Not only will they not be rewarded, but we will discourage them. We will not reward the work they do each day, the work they are optimistic about.
The Senator from Indiana is so correct in this sense. Every farmer and rancher I know, at the end of the day their goal is to see that they have done work that day not only to feed, clothe, and provide energy to the world, but to see that they have a farming operation, a ranching operation that is of the nature that it can be passed on to the next generation of Kansas farmers and ranchers. It is the sense of satisfaction that comes in a farmer's life when the son and daughter who follow them have that ability.
Nothing is easy in agriculture, and there is not a thing any day that is easy on a farm or ranch across the country. With our weather patterns and soil conditions, it takes a lot of drive, effort, stamina, and discipline to survive. Much of the day is spent trying to survive. Here we see a series of things as we arrive today and discover that we want to increase the tax on those people who work hard every day and whose goal it is to tell their sons and daughters: I have a farm or ranch that can be yours someday, and you can take over where I left off.
Why is that important? That is traditionally and historically how farming has occurred. It is passed down from great-grandparents to grandparents to parents to children to grandchildren, and there is pride and satisfaction that comes from that.
We are here today to make certain the Federal Government doesn't create one more obstacle toward that goal of making certain the next generation of Kansans has the opportunity to work to earn a living and feed the world on their own family farm or ranch. It is so surprising to me that there would be anyone who believes these individuals, these business operations, farms or small businesses, ought to be singled out and treated in a way that discourages them from accomplishing that American dream of passing that farm and ranch on to their kids and grandkids. I hope our colleagues see the light and understand how important this is in rural America. And not only is it important in rural America, but what happens in our part of the country determines whether we have the ability to provide food and fiber for the country and the globe.
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Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, I am pleased the Senator from North Dakota joined us, because I think he made a very valid point, something I should have explained better. It is not just the fear of having to pay more taxes, but it is the reality you don't have the income to pay the tax, therefore requiring the sale of the assets--the sale of the farm machinery and equipment, the sale of the land, the sale of the cattle.
While no one wants to pay more taxes, in this case it is even more onerous in that you have value to assets. You have some wealth in the land and the equipment and the cattle, but never the sufficient income to pay the tax. Therefore, the sale of those assets is required to pay the tax man; and, therefore, you don't have those assets I was talking about earlier to pass on to your children and grandchildren.
This is not just about: I already pay enough taxes; I don't want to pay any more; I can't afford any more. This is the reality: I don't have the ability at all to come up with the income, unless, as the Senator from North Dakota says, I go to the bank and borrow the money. But then I don't have the cashflow to repay the loan, and therefore I sell the property.
This comes at a time when many Kansans--farmers and others--would complain about how business and agriculture keep getting bigger and bigger. The reality is we would love to have those farming operations, that family-sized farming scale that is so important to the cultural and economic vitality of communities across Kansas and across America. But because we have laws such as the estate tax, we sell those assets to bigger entities that can better afford it, and we reduce the number of family farms that most of us believe are so important to who we are as Americans, and certainly so important to the economy and the cultural nature of rural America.
I have heard the discussion here on the floor today about the farm bill. I know my colleagues, the Senator from South Dakota and the Senator from North Dakota, have encouraged passage of a farm bill by the entire Congress. But this farm bill, let me remind you, is a reduction in farm bill spending only on the side of production agriculture, of family farms across Kansas--a reduction in the amount of money available under the farm bill of $23 billion.
Farmers in Kansas tell me they are willing to take their so-called hit to help reduce the country's fiscal condition. We are willing to take the $23 billion out of farm programs, but don't do other things to us that eliminate or reduce our ability to earn a living.
So here comes Congress, a few weeks after we pass a farm bill reducing the amount of money available for farm programs by $23 billion, saying, Oh, let's do something else damaging to agriculture, to farmers and ranchers. Let's impose an estate tax in which the threshold is $1 million and the marginal rate is 55 percent.
So it goes back, contrary to what farmers say, which is: We will take our hit; we will contribute to getting this country's fiscal house back in order, but let us have the opportunity under a free enterprise system to succeed. And now we have one more handicap, one more hurdle to accomplishing that.
I was on the Senate floor yesterday talking about this issue and particularly talking about a tax system. We need dramatic reform in our Tax Code. The idea that we would be extending the current tax law for the foreseeable future, this Congress, this President ought to be serious about scrapping the Tax Code and starting over with something much different. I spoke yesterday in favor of the fair tax. But regardless of what the conclusion is, we ought to have a simpler, fairer, more understandable Tax Code. We ought to have the circumstance in which most taxpayers don't have to seek professional advice to figure out what it is they owe or to spend their whole time as a farmer or rancher or a business person trying to figure out, What do I do today that will have a positive or negative consequence upon the tax bill at the end of the year?
We Americans spend a huge amount of time and a significant amount of money in which we pay professionals to advise us how to avoid paying taxes. We desperately need a whole new Tax Code that is fairer, simpler, much more straightforward and understandable, so that we spend our time growing the economy, as compared to spending our time trying to figure out how to manipulate the Tax Code and, in the process, lose our individual liberties and freedoms because we are all about trying to make certain that we comply with the Tax Code as compared to determining what is in the best interest of us as citizens, us as individuals, as family members, and us as business owners.
So while it is important that we point out the onerous nature of the estate tax and what is about to happen here in a vote in about an hour, we ought to remind ourselves that there is a much more important goal than this Congress and this President have been willing to address, and that is, scrap this Code and get something that makes sense to the American people that is understandable, affordable, and that pays the necessary amounts to fund those programs required for us to be a successful country.
I yield for the Senator from South Dakota.
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Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, I certainly thank the Senator from Wyoming for his comments. Those of us who had the privilege of growing up in small town America know those names the Senator from Wyoming indicated. It is one of the advantages of that small town life.
Every day we see those families who own a business or have a farm or ranch. We know who they are. We know who works there, we know what jobs are created by that business or that farm, and we have the understanding of how important that is in the community if there is going to be jobs in our town. It is that small businessperson who gets up early, works late, does whatever is necessary to make sure they are a success in that business. Sometimes they are successful and sometimes they are not. Every day they fight the fight to make certain they put food on their family's table, they have the ability to save for their children's education, for that better life, and save for their own retirement.
Again, just like we talked about the farmers and ranchers who are willing to forgo things from Washington, DC, to help contribute to getting our debt under control, get our fiscal house back in order, make America what we know it can be--they are willing to forgo those things that Washington seems to want to give us. All they ask is, Please don't put more burdens on us. Don't make it more difficult for us to succeed.
We see the example today where the Democrats' tax proposal creates a huge burden on a huge sector of this economy and on people who are so important to us as to whether we are going to have jobs created and the opportunity for every American to pursue the American dream.
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