Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on the importance of getting a deal done on the fiscal cliff in few hours we have remaining. A potential Alternative Minimum Tax patch would protect 30 million taxpayers overall and 222,513 Texans from paying the AMT by raising the exemption amount.
Way back on January 20, 2001, when President George W. Bush took over from President Bill Clinton, the CBO estimated the total budget surplus for 2002-2011 would be $5.6 trillion.
And the campaign to spend the surplus began in earnest, despite warnings. Leading up to the 2001 tax cuts, the Administration and the Republican Congress were well aware of the looming AMT problem. Negotiators took advantage of this situation in order to keep down the costs of the 2001 tax cuts.
In June of 2000, one Treasury economist studied the AMT and warned that AMT taxpayers were due to grow at a rate of 30 percent each year between 2000 and 2010. Nonetheless, President Bush proposed a $1.6 trillion tax cut without an increase in the exemption level to protect taxpayers from the AMT.
Since 2001, Congress has had to extend an AMT ``patch'' almost annually so that the Bush tax cuts are not taken back by the AMT. The true cost of what was to be a $1.6 trillion tax cut has been estimated to be $2.2 trillion because of the AMT patches, exploding expiration dates, and debt-financing when the surplus disappeared. This budgetary sleight of hand is largely why we are here--literally at the eleventh hour--seeking to stop tax hikes on the middle class and avoid a brutal sequester.
This body should also not forget that we passed the Bush Tax Cuts under Reconciliation, which again is part of the background story, and the reason they are set to expire again.
Mr. Speaker, we need to get a deal done on the fiscal cliff this evening.