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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, the House of Representatives is a wonderful body. It's one of the most amazing places in the whole world. It's where we make decisions for 300 million people, and we make them for a lot of other places that we're going to influence around the world. And every once in a while you sort of come here and say, I think I've seen everything, and then we've got one more.

Here we are today, the last day of the session, with no debate whatsoever on this bill--anywhere. It's just brought out here de novo. I guess it came from God, or from the Speaker's Office, or someplace. I don't have any idea where it came from. But it seems to me that the House of Representatives is working hard to forget every positive lesson we have learned in the history of governing this country about how to get things--big things--done for the American people.

Today's bill sets up a process to ram through whatever bill Congressman Levin writes in 2013, because he'll be chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He will sit in a closed room, using arbitrary rates, with no input and no debate. It will be a disaster. Did I say LEVIN? I meant CAMP. What am I talking about?

It would be a disaster to have one person sit somewhere in a room and decide what the bill is and bring it out. And this power grab will destroy any attempt that we have or any chance we have of having tax reform. We used to know better.

I got here in 1988--that was 2 years after the tax reform of 1986. Now, roll back the clock a little further. In 1980, Ronald Reagan won, 44-State mandate. He was in power. But there were also strong majorities on the Democratic side in the Congress, just like today.

In 1980, just like today, the government was divided. And just like today, both sides wanted to get tax reform done. It wasn't any different in 1980 when President Reagan came in. But today we're debating a power grab bill where it's introduced by one Republican Member--I guess he didn't have time to get anybody else to sign it before he had to drop it in to bring it out here and discuss it--scored by one Member and given an up-or-down vote by one Member. In every case, unfortunately, the lot falls to Mr. Camp.

I don't think Mr. Camp did this. This isn't Mr. Camp. I know him. This isn't the kind of bill he would sit down and write, because we've seen him when he writes bills. This was written somewhere, and this is how we're going to ram through the House of Representatives, and the point of the sword is Mr. Camp.

Now, this appalling breach of procedure is the worst try to get anything done in the House of Representatives. I can't be more clear: comprehensive tax reform simply will not happen if the process and the bill are autocratic and rabidly partisan. That's the end of it right there.

Back in the 1980s, both the Republicans and the Democrats knew that this was true. Tip O'Neill sat up here, he was Democratic Speaker of the House, and Ronald Reagan sat down at the end of Pennsylvania as the President. They fiercely disagreed with each other on just about everything when they started, but they knew that they had to find areas of agreement and compromise to get anything done as big as tax reform.


Mr. McDERMOTT. These two were not cut from the same piece of cloth. Tip O'Neill was a working class Irishman. He was passionate about fairness, knew how to get things done, and, well, he liked to have a glass of whiskey now and then. Ronald Reagan believed in a pure sense of individualism. To Ronald Reagan, tax reform was about lowering taxes. He also liked to tell jokes and occasionally have a glass of whiskey. They both liked to play golf.

Then there was Rostenkowski. He was the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He also played golf, and he liked a glass of whiskey occasionally. They all got to know each other. They pulled other people in. They discussed issues in detail. It was bipartisan. It was not done on one side or the other or simply by one person--wouldn't, couldn't, never would have happened in those days. They did the people's business that way.

Now, lots of voters are angry these days. They don't think Washington works. Well, it doesn't work when you get this kind of legislation brought out here.

If people from both sides can't sit down--it took Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill and Rostenkowski 6 years, from 1980 to 1986, talking about this issue by the time they finally got it all done. And here we have a bill that, I guess this could pass by--well, when we get back from Labor Day I suppose it will be a couple days and then it will be through the House.

That's not going to happen. You know it's not going to happen, and I know it's not going to happen. And the public is angry about this because Washington is not dysfunctional because Members of Congress aren't extreme enough. They're not getting things done because we're not working together.

To do tax reform well, to do it right, in fact, to do it at all, we will have to work together. It will take time, it will take debate, and it will take thoughtful consideration. There is no other way.

This bill we are considering today guarantees failure. It's bad for America. I ask Members to vote ``no.''


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