WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of H.R. 3996, the Middle-Class Tax Relief Bill. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, I believe that virtually every Member of this body – on both sides of the aisle – agrees that we must prevent the Alternative Minimum Tax (the AMT) from hitting 23 million hard-working American families this year.
“Let no one be mistaken: This is precisely what this legislation offered by Chairman Rangel is designed to do.
“Without question, the AMT is outdated and unfair.
“When it was enacted, it was intended to ensure that wealthy taxpayers paid their fair share. But because it was never indexed for inflation, it threatens today to force millions of middle-income American families to pay more than they otherwise would under the standard income tax system.
“Furthermore, the AMT is complicated and confounding – actually requiring taxpayers to compute their taxes not once, but twice.
“This legislation offered by Chairman Rangel will prevent the AMT from unfairly reaching into the pockets of middle-income families.
“Furthermore, it also will provide 30 million homeowners with property tax relief. It will help 12 million children by expanding the child tax credit. It will help 4½ million families better afford college with the tuition deduction. It will save 3.4 million teachers money with a deduction for classroom expenses.
“In short, this bill will extend tax credits and deductions that will benefit a wide array of Americans and the American economy.
“And, yes, this legislation helps restore tax fairness and – once again – demonstrates that this Democratic Majority is committed to fiscal responsibility.
“How do we restore fairness? By closing tax loopholes and preventing some Americans from escaping income taxes by using offshore tax havens.
“Now, while virtually all of us want to mitigate the reach of the AMT, Republicans are complaining that Democrats have the audacity to close tax loopholes and to insist on fiscal responsibility.
“They claim – predictably – that closing tax loopholes constitutes a tax increase. I reject their premise. All we are doing is insisting that people pay their fair share.
“In fact, Harvard economist Greg Mankiw – the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Bush – has written that ‘carried interest’ earned by venture-capitalists and private-equity professionals should be taxed the same as other compensation for services – not capital gains.
“Finally, the real prize for audacity must go to our Republican friends. They claim, on one hand, that they are fiscally responsible, while demanding, on the other hand, another $200 billion for the war in Iraq and $50 billion for this AMT bill – none of it paid for, all of it added to the deficit.
“Mr. Speaker, forcing our children to pay our bills is not only fiscally irresponsible, it morally bankrupt – and akin to fiscal child abuse.
“To paraphrase a Washington Post editorial published yesterday: If Republicans don’t like the way Democrats propose to finance the AMT patch, what would they cut instead?
“The truth is, we are making the hard decisions Republicans refused to make.
“The truth is, this is a very good bill.
“I urge all of my colleagues: Vote for tax fairness. Vote for fiscal responsibility. Vote for this bill.”