In Opening Remarks at Senate Finance Markup on Republican Tax Plan, Urges Congress to Stop Taking Easy Path and Instead Invest in Future
Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today delivered opening remarks in the Senate Finance Committee markup on the Senate Republican tax plan.
A video of his remarks is available HERE. A copy of his remarks is below:
When I left Washington last Thursday, hardly anyone had seen the Republican tax plan. One holiday weekend later, and here we are marking up the most consequential tax policy in 31 years, with no hearings or debate.
America needs tax reform. I joined the Finance Committee because I believe that. We haven't reformed our tax code since I was in college with a Smith Corona typewriter. Our economy has transformed since then, but our tax code remains frozen in the past.
We should clean up special interest loopholes. We should help our businesses compete in a global economy. We need comprehensive and bipartisan reform. But in a break with tradition, this Committee has made no serious attempt to bring both sides together. Instead, the majority wrote a deeply flawed proposal that adds $1.5 trillion to our debt.
In 2014, a Republican member of this Committee wrote, "It doesn't take a mathematician to see that we are sitting on a ticking time bomb of debt." Another said, "Our nation's growing debt is costing us jobs and economic growth today, and it is an unfair burden to pass on to our children and grandchildren." I agree. But I think it's important in this context to review how we arrived at this point.
In 2000, President Clinton left a $5.6 trillion projected surplus to his successor. At the time, Congress held hearings about how to invest in our future and pay down our debt. Some Members of the Senate were here for that. Then President Bush signed two major tax cuts and prosecuted two wars without paying for them. Then he signed Medicare Part D without paying for that. A number of people voted with the president on all of those steps who are still here today.
When President Obama came to office in 2009, he inherited a collapsing economy and a $1.2 trillion annual deficit. Then, amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Republican leaders all of a sudden remembered their fiscal conservatism. Citing the debt, nearly all of them opposed the economic recovery package to stabilize our economy and save millions from unemployment. Over the next eight years, despite bipartisan efforts to rein in the debt, Republicans consistently rejected a balanced approach.
As a result, rather than confront our fiscal challenges, Washington has taken the easy path by cutting investments in our future - in education, research, innovation, and infrastructure - while at the same time burdening our future with trillions more in debt.
This should seem deeply unfair to Americans in their twenties and younger to know that we are investing less in them than our parents and grandparents invested in us. And that we have the nerve to say, "You need to pay back the debt that we accrued investing in ourselves."
For years, Republican Members of this Committee have raised alarms about our debt. I believe they are sincere. But I struggle to comprehend how they can square that view with support for this plan. As our debt grows, we will spend billions more - not on schools, roads, and innovation - but on interest costs. Worse, we are about to blow another hole in our debt without really helping the middle class. By 2019, the Senate plan would actually raise taxes on 19.4 million households earning under $200,000 while providing no benefit to nearly 54 million households.
On top of that, we know that when deficits swell - as they surely will - cuts to Medicaid and Medicare are sure to follow, further burdening working families struggling to make ends meet.
This is not at all what the American people want. We need to stop this and write a bill that is worthy of this Committee.