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Pathway to Job Creation Through a Simpler, Fairer Tax Code Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

We all agree that the Tax Code needs to be updated and reformed--and my Democrat colleagues and I are ready to work in a bipartisan manner to accomplish that goal--but the flawed and entirely partisan priorities reflected in this majority's bill make a very bad start. Their principles seem to point in one direction: less fairness and less of the burden shouldered by the people who have the most; fewer brackets, lower top rates, lower corporate taxes, less revenue, and higher deficits.

My Democrat colleagues and I have a different vision for tax reform, a vision that is reflected in our alternative proposal today. My amendment would replace the principles found in the majority's bill with a different set of priorities for a fairer and simpler Tax Code. I would like to take a minute to outline these priorities.

First, we must identify sources of revenue that, in combination with smart and targeted spending reductions, will provide the long-term means to reduce the national debt significantly while making investments in national priorities such as infrastructure, education, research, and defense, which are critical to the future of American competitiveness and job growth.

I would note that nothing in the Republican bill says tax reform needs to lower the deficit or to even hold it level. On the contrary, there are indications that Republican tax reform would make the deficit worse. I think that they believe, along with Vice President Cheney, who memorably said, ``Deficits don't matter.'' My Democrat colleagues and I disagree with that approach.

Second, we believe that there should be a rate structure that distributes the tax burden in a more progressive manner. We support a Tax Code that discourages tax avoidance, including the use of entities and accounts in tax haven jurisdictions, such as Swiss bank accounts or assets hidden in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, all done simply to avoid paying United States taxes.

We believe in preserving and improving the provisions of the Tax Code that support middle class homeownership, education, retirement savings, and health care. In addition, we agree that the time has come to repeal the alternative minimum tax, and we want to retain and improve refundable tax credits that encourage work and education while lifting millions of Americans out of poverty.

We support eliminating tax breaks for businesses that move jobs and profits overseas in combination with a reduction in tax rates for American manufacturers, which are vital to innovation and job growth--in other words, reward the people who stay here.

Finally, we want to preserve and improve incentives for small business investment and growth. These businesses are the engine of job creation, and we must do all we can to support their success.

Mr. Speaker, this Republican bill can be explained in one sentence: House Republicans want special procedures that allow them to force their rightwing legislative agenda through the Senate.

Why are we wasting time in trying to change the rules of the Senate--trying to force the other body to accept partisan Republican priorities--rather than just sitting down together and working out a bipartisan path forward?

It's a major question, I think, in this congressional term that, like others have said, is the most poorly productive in history. Our amendment would remove the flawed expedited procedures and misguided Republican principles, and it would replace them with the principles that I have laid out.

Let me end by expressing my utter disbelief at how difficult House Republicans are making it to pass the middle class tax cuts right now. They make clear they intend to hold the middle class tax cuts hostage to the tax cuts for the top 2 percent of Americans, though we agree that earnings of $250,000 and below should not see any tax increases.

Yesterday, I offered a simple amendment that would say we would delay our departure for the August break until we got this proposal signed into law. It was defeated. Cutting taxes should not be that hard, and I hope my colleagues will join me to support my amendment and to help in our effort to create a fair and simple Tax Code that works for all Americans.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, all this discussion is about priorities. As I said, we all agree the Tax Code has to be reformed, but the majority has not come to the floor today with a serious proposal to get us there.

My amendment would put us all on record in favor of the priorities of the middle class: more fairness, a simpler Tax Code, a lower deficit, and incentives to keep jobs here in the United States. I ask my colleagues to support my amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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