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Making Life Work for American Families

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. YOUNG of Indiana. Okay. Well, great. This is the great American family room, if you will, where we're sitting around and having a family conversation, the people's conversation, about making life work.

And I would absolutely agree, there are a lot of dimensions to this topic. We've got to get our spending under control. Republicans have put forward a bold budget to make that happen, bring our budget into balance within just 10 years.

We need to stop imposing overly costly, overly burdensome regulations on American families, American businesses and so on.

We, of course, need to take a look at our energy policy and open up this bounty of resources here in this country; and there's a whole variety of different ones. My colleague from Washington, the gentlelady, just spoke to some in her region.

Of course, in my region, coal remains a viable and important resource; but we're finding increasingly that my constituents in Indiana's Ninth District are enjoying the benefits of natural gas, and very affordable natural gas.

We happen to have oil and gas resources in this country, by some reckoning, that are larger than Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia combined. This will make the United States of America a net energy exporter within just 10 years. So that is a blessing that, once again, Republicans are leading with respect to harnessing these resources we have.

Of course, our human resources are another thing that we could touch on. But, really, my point of emphasis, since I'm on the Ways and Means Committee, this evening is going to be tax reform.

We just finished getting through yet another tax day, and I'm sure my colleagues heard from their constituents just how convoluted and complicated and frustrating and unfair this Tax Code can be to working families.

I was struck by--there's this notion of tax freedom day that some of our colleagues and certainly our constituents are aware of. This is when we, as hardworking taxpayers, stop paying the Federal Government and can start working for ourselves. And it fell on April 18 this year; 3 1/2 months into the year is when our taxpayers stop paying the Federal Government and can start working for themselves and their families. That suggests to me that we need to work on all fronts to grow this economy more and also to lighten the burden of taxation wherever possible.

Tax simplification is something I'll get into in a little bit, and that's part of our overall tax reform effort.

But with that, I'll yield to my good friend from Colorado. Perhaps you have other thoughts on taxation or other things that are related to our making-life-work theme tonight.


Mr. YOUNG of Indiana. Well, you said so many things that really strike a chord with me. And I know, based on my consultations and visits with my constituents, they certainly do. One is the importance of funding the essential functions of government. I mean, we are the party of smart government. We've put forward specific proposals in order to rationalize different departments, make things run more efficiently, ensure we get more bang for our buck in every department of government, and avoid the duplication and wastefulness that so alienates so many of our constituents.

There's nothing we can do that would more undermine the credibility of government as an institution--and the Federal Government in particular--than to waste money and to spend it in areas where our constituents don't want us to spend it. So our national defense is essential. That benefits working families on a daily basis. It certainly benefits our military families, but really benefits all of us. That's something we have to be very careful with as we approach these different fiscal challenges. So I applaud my colleague for her leadership in this area.


Mr. YOUNG of Indiana. You know, my constituents, and yours too, they don't mind paying taxes if they get the sense that we're spending those taxes on the essential functions of government and we're spending absolutely no more than required. They also wouldn't mind paying their fair share of taxes if in fact complying with the Tax Code were a simple exercise and one that seemed by most Americans to be a fair exercise.

Having just passed tax day here, I'll share a couple of semi-humorous comments about what the American family could do instead of filing taxes, if they had taken all those 13 hours on average per American family and instead been able to use that for themselves.

An average American family, instead of filling out their Tax Code, could have watched the entire ``Harry Potter'' movie series twice, and they'd still have time for two ``Hunger Games'' movies. Or they could have watched all six ``Star Wars'' movies three times. Or they could have lost weight if that's where they want to spend their time. If the time was spent in a spinning class, the average American, we're told, could lose 14 pounds per man and 11.8 pounds per woman, respectively. They could fly between Hong Kong and New York three times. This just illustrates how darn painful complying with this convoluted, complicated, and unfair Tax Code can be.

I like to say that our Tax Code in a way makes those who sit down at the kitchen table and actually do their own taxes--most people actually have to hire a tax preparer or buy tax software these days--but it makes the average American feel like either a crook on one hand or a sucker on the other.

So consider the case of John and Jane. John and Jane are neighbors; they make the exact same amount in personal income. But John decides he's going to itemize his deductions and he takes several credits--he's sort of aggressive when he's filing his taxes. Jane, on the other hand, she takes a standard deduction and fairly limited credits. Now, John is left feeling like a crook. He might feel like he's run afoul of the law. He did his best to follow it, but he might be left to feel like a crook as a result of the whole tax exercise. Jane, on the other hand, knows that John ends up paying far less in taxes even though he makes the same amount, so Jane feels kind of like a sucker. What sort of code makes you feel like either a crook or a sucker?

We have to stop this nonsense, simplify the Code, and reduce the rates in the process to make us more competitive vis a vis our international competitors. That's what we're doing in the Ways and Means Committee, and I invite our Democrat colleagues to help. I actually see a lot of room for common ground here, and I hope that they will join us in this exercise.


Mr. YOUNG of Indiana. Sorry for interrupting there, but you struck a chord when you said ``regulations.''

We know what the American people want. They want fewer hassles, fewer burdens, fewer mandates from on high. They want more flexibility, more walking around cash, they want more choices, they want more hope for themselves and their children and grandchildren.

With respect to regulatory reform, this impacts daily lives in a very big way. We typically hear about it in the context of how it's going to hurt your corporations or sometimes your small businesses. I happen to represent a district with a lot of rural areas in it. Not a week goes by that I don't hear a farmer complaining about some of the regulations in the pipe.

We've had recent attempts by our Federal Government to try and regulate milk spills like oil spills, and to regulate the dust that comes across fields in rural areas.


Mr. YOUNG of Indiana. And how we can make life work for our regular American families, our American workers, and even our companies, because, after all, this is where most of my constituents are employed--sometimes large companies, sometimes small companies.

With respect to regulations, we have tried a Whack-A-Mole approach going back a number of years here, where we do our best with respect to oversight. Sometimes we do better than others. And we try to prevent certain executive departments from actually implementing a given regulation, or we change the law so that the regulation can't move forward. That's hard to do.

But I think we need to be thinking ambitiously here about changing the entire regulatory system. I introduced earlier this year a bill that was originally authored by Geoff Davis, a Republican from Kentucky, called the REINS Act. What the REINS Act does is it establishes a $100 million threshold. So every time, say, the EPA or OSHA puts forward a rule or regulation that is determined will have $100 million or more in economic impact on our multitrillion-dollar economy, that rule or regulation has to go before Congress for an up-or-down vote.

Now, what effect would this have? Of course, this would slow down the regulatory process, which is good. Washington needs to deliberate before it acts, right? We can still regulate. There's a role for smart regulation, but we need to deliberate before we act.

But, perhaps, most importantly, in the end, if we pass the REINS Act, this would allow our constituents to blame us for these painful and costly regulations, rather than unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. We want to be accountable.


Mr. YOUNG of Indiana. I understand that the money that Republicans would propose to spend to address this issue within the Obama structure is money the administration would instead like to spend for advertising--advertising the exchanges, advertising how the Affordable Care Act is actually going to work.

Mrs. WAGNER. And this is key. This is about the Helping Sick Americans Now Act.

Mr. YOUNG of Indiana. That's right.


Mr. YOUNG of Indiana. This looks like a welcome addition. Before he steps to the microphone there, he's going to tell us where all the money is going, how bad our debt is, and maybe how that's crowding out future investment in our children and grandchildren.

Is that right, Tim?


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