Today, in the Senate’s first session since early August, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the minority leader, proposed freezing income tax rates for all Americans. The White House is currently pushing for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for middle-class and lower-income Americans, while letting the tax cuts expire for the highest-earning two percent. The increase would impact households earning more than $250,000 a year and individuals earning more than $200,000 a year, and the top marginal rate rate would rise from 35 to 39.6 percent.
Given that Democrats control the Senate, McConnell cannot bring his bill forward. That means it will not receive any votes unless a Democrat does so for him.
Here’s the full text of McConnell’s statement on the tax cuts. It clearly lays out the Republican line on the matter: Democrats have spent and spent and spent but have not lowered the unemployment rate, so why let them raise taxes on hardworking Americans and small businesses just to let them continue to do the same? It also cites the opposition of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) — as well as Democrats Ben Nelson (Neb.), Evan Bayh (Ind.), Kent Conrad (N.D.) and Jim Webb (Va.) — to letting taxes rise for the wealthiest Americans. Without those senators, plus one Republican, on board, a two-year extension of all the tax cuts seems most likely.
For the past 19 months, the American people have waited patiently for the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress to help them turn the economy around. And time and time again, the administration and its allies in Congress have turned a deaf ear.
Rather than implement the policies that would free up capital, lead to investment, and create good, lasting, private-sector jobs, Democrats in Congress have passed one sweeping, government-driven scheme after another, then asked taxpayers to put it on their tab. A stimulus bill that was supposed to be timely, targeted, and temporary turned out to be a liberal wish-list. Instead of stimulating the economy and keeping unemployment below 8 percent, as promised, we stand here today with nearly 10 percent unemployment nationwide and many more Americans struggling to find full-time work. A health care bill that was supposed to lower costs is doing the opposite. As I’ve repeatedly said in the past, and as a new government report confirmed just last week, the President’s health care plan will bend the cost curve up — not down. And a financial regulatory bill that was supposed to protect Main Street is being embraced by some of the biggest players on Wall Street, while small town bankers and retailers brace themselves for the costly and burdensome rules and regulations it will impose on them.
Every one of these bills came at a steep price to the taxpayer. And until now, Democrats have been content to borrow the money, to simply pile it on to the debt.
Well, now comes the second half of the story, the final piece of their agenda — the part where they point to all that spending and demand payment for it, where they try to make it all permanent. Democrats spent the last two years putting government in charge of health care, the financial sector, car companies, insurance companies, student loans — you name it. Now they want the tax hike to pay for it all.
Americans asked the administration to fix the sink, and they remodeled the house instead. And now they’re sending us the bill.
This was their plan all along: force these massive programs through, drive up the debt, call it a crisis, then demand that people pay their ‘fair share’ to dig us out. It starts with small business owners, but I assure you it won’t stop there, because if Democrats spent this much money in the middle of a recession, they’ll borrow and spend even more once we’re out of it. The President admitted as much last week on national television when he said that the tax hike he’s asking for won’t be used to pay for any of the things he’s already done. He’ll use the money from these tax hikes to spend on other things; on “better things,” as he put it.
Well, we’ve seen the so-called “better things” Democrats want to spend taxpayer money on — a stimulus bill that’s funding research on interpretative dance and monkeys; a health care bill that cut Medicare and increased premiums; and a financial regulatory bill that hires more of the same kind of Washington bureaucrats who missed the last crisis.
Americans have had it.
They’re tired of Democrat leaders in Washington pursuing the same government-driven programs that have done nothing but add to the debt and the burden of government. We can’t allow this administration to demand that small business owners in this country pay for its own fiscal recklessness. And that’s why I’m introducing legislation today that ensures that no one in this country will pay higher income taxes next year than they are right now.
We can’t let the people who’ve been hit hardest by this recession and who we need to create the jobs that will get us out of it foot the bill for the Democrats’ two-year adventure in expanded government. We can’t allow America’s job creators to pay for Democrats’ out-of-control spending over the past two years any more than we can allow Main Street to pay for the greed of Wall Street. Wall Street should pay for its own excess. So should the administration and Democrat leaders in Washington.
The good news is that a growing chorus of Democrats, including at least five here in the Senate, are coming round on this issue. They oppose the tax hikes the administration is proposing. As Senator Lieberman put it earlier today, “I don’t think it makes sense to raise any federal taxes during the uncertain economy we are struggling through. The more money we leave in private hands, the quicker our economic recovery will be.”
I couldn’t agree more. Only in Washington could someone propose a tax hike as an antidote to a recession. And this is no small tax hike. The tax hike the administration is proposing, according to the IRS, would apply to half of all small business income in this country. And an analysis by the National Federation of Independent Business shows that businesses that employ 20 to 250 people would be hardest hit. All told, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, hundreds of thousands of small businesses would see their taxes go up next year under the administration’s plan.
Here’s the bottom line: no recovery will take place until the government stops over-spending. No recovery will take place until government stops imposing new regulations and costs on business. No recovery will take place if we impose new taxes on the people we need to create jobs. Democrat leaders need to listen to what the American people have been shouting at us for the past 19 months: the reckless spending has got to stop. So far, they’ve made no concrete concessions. But now it’s time they join Republicans, stand up to the administration, and declare that the spending spree is over.
That’s the first step on the road to recovery. As for the next step, Republicans stood together just before the August recess and put together a plan that would save taxpayers $300 billion over the next 10 years. That’s a good place to start.
So Democrats have a choice: they can stand with us on this proposal and show that they finally realize we can’t spend our way out of the recession. Or they can continue to stand with an administration whose policies — real and threatened — represent the greatest obstacle to our nation’s economic recovery.
Let’s face it: the Democrat agenda has been disastrous for the economy: two and a half million jobs lost: two and a half trillion dollars more in debt, more job-stifling regulations, mandates, and red tape. And now they want to drive another nail in the coffin — a massive tax hike on the very people who will dig us out of this recession by expanding their businesses and creating jobs.
Republicans are offering a choice: more of the same or the new direction Americans are asking for.