WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today on legislation protecting 23 million Americans from being forced to pay the alternative minimum tax:
“I believe that every single member of this body – on both sides of the aisle – agrees that we must protect middle-income Americans from the alternative minimum tax, the parallel tax system enacted in 1969 to ensure that wealthy Americans pay their fair share.
“The question that divides us is this: Will we enact a fiscally responsible one-year patch to the AMT that prevents 23 million Americans from paying more in federal income taxes under the AMT than they otherwise would pay under our standard tax system?
“Or, will we take the easy route, the politically expedient route, the fiscally irresponsible route, and enact an unpaid-for, one-year patch that tacks another $50 billion – yes, $50 billion – onto the deficit and debt, and immorally forces our children and grandchildren to pay our bills?
“For months, Democrats on both sides of Capitol Hill have fought to do the right thing – to enact a fiscally responsible AMT patch that is paid for by, among other things, closing a tax loophole that permits many of the wealthiest people in our nation from denominating their income as 'capital gains,' and thereby allowing them to pay the 15-percent capital gains tax rate rather than the higher marginal income tax rate.
“Time after time after time, House and Senate Republicans rejected our 'pay-fors,' and demanded that we take the fiscally irresponsible route – and enact an AMT patch that adds $50 billion to the national debt.
“There is no small irony in the fact that the President and his Republican allies in Congress have fought all year long to prevent Democrats from adding $23 billion in funding for domestic priorities while they have no compunction about voting to add $50 billion to the deficit and debt.
“No small irony. Only gross irresponsibility.
“Let no one be mistaken: The Republican position on the AMT is part and parcel of an almost theological belief in supply-side economics that is demonstrably false.
“The Minority Leader, Mr. Boehner, recently stated: ‘Tax relief pays for itself.’
“And, the President himself has stated: ‘You cut taxes, and the tax revenues increase.’
“The facts, however, show otherwise: In the last seven years, the Republican Party’s economic policies have erased a projected 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion, instigated record budget deficits, and added more than $3.4 trillion to the national debt.
“As my good friend, Congressman Tanner of Tennessee, recently pointed out: Since President Bush took office, the gross national debt has increased by $1.37 billion per day; $57 million per hour; and $948,907 per minute.
“This, of course, is the record of a President and Republicans in Congress who pretend that they are ‘fiscally responsible.’ And today, they don’t bat an eye at adding another $50 billion to the debt.
“Our nation is on a perilous course.
“Just listen to our non-partisan Comptroller General, David Walker, who stated last year: ‘Continuing on this unsustainable fiscal path will gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living, and ultimately our national security.’
“Democrats recognize the danger of continuing on this unsustainable fiscal path – and in one of our first acts back in the Majority, we reinstated the pay-as-you-go budget rules that Republicans formerly supported and which are credited with restoring fiscal discipline in the 1990s.
“Today, we have protected 23 million middle-income Americans from bearing the brunt of the dreaded AMT – a tax they should not pay, a tax that must be permanently reformed.
“We should have also passed a fiscally responsible AMT patch that is revenue-neutral – a position supported by the President in his budgets.
“However, it is regrettable and, yes, shameful that we have not done so because the President and his allies in Congress have insisted on political expedience and fiscal irresponsibility.”