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At a time when Wisconsinites are facing economic uncertainty, a high unemployment rate and an increase in the costs of living, the last thing our country needs are tax increases.  Our country faces many challenges.  It is over six years since the financial crisis and many families have still not recovered.  Economic growth is too slow, too many families are stuck in foreclosure or are falling behind, students continue to struggle with meeting their tuition payments, and millions are seeing their medical care costs skyrocket as a result of President Obama's health care law.  Unfortunately, President Obama and his party have turned to more taxes, more spending, and more regulation.  And, as we have seen, maintaining the status quo has not improved the economy.  Washington owes the American people a better path forward. 

Fixing the Broken Tax Code

Our tax system should be simple, fair, and promote economic growth; but the U.S. tax code fails on all three counts. It is notoriously complex, patently unfair, and highly inefficient. The tax code's complexity distorts decisions to work, save, and invest, which leads to slower economic growth, lower wages, and diminished job creation. It is estimated that individuals, families, and employers spend over 6 billion hours and over $160 billion a year trying to understand a labyrinth of rules. Over the past decade, more than 4,400 changes have been made to the tax code, which averages to more than one per day. The house passed budget proposes to solve these problems by calling for a reformed tax code.

Currently, the U.S. corporate tax rate is 39.1 percent—the highest marginal rate in the industrialized free world.  Additionally, the top federal rate on smaller, unincorporated businesses reaches 44.6 percent.  Roughly half of all U.S. active business income and half of private-sector employment are derived from these businesses—such as partnerships, S corporations, and sole proprietorships.  These high tax rates discourage investment and job creation, distort business activity, and put American businesses at a competitive disadvantage.  It is also important to note that in Wisconsin approximately 9 out of 10 businesses file their taxes as individuals.  These small businesses, known as "sub-chapter S corporations," limited liability corporations (LLCs) and partnerships employ more than half of all private sector workers.  With two-thirds of the net new jobs in America being created by small businesses, raising taxes on these businesses would kill job creation—especially at a time when some of our foreign competitors are lowering their tax rates on business as low as 15 percent. 

By making the tax code more conducive to innovation and investment, we can stimulate job growth and get the economy back on the road to recovery.  As Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, I will continue to work with my colleagues both on and off the Committee and across the aisle to accomplish this worthwhile goal. 

President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2016

On February 2, 2015, President Obama submitted to Congress his budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2016.  At a time when we need to control government spending, unfortunately, the President’s budget for FY16 would increase spending, increase taxes and weaken economic growth.  Specifically his proposal would:

  • Under the President’s proposal, spending will increase by 65% - $2.4 trillion – in 10 years.

  • Under the President’s proposal, the budget never balances.  Instead, it would add $8.5 trillion to the debt.

  • Further, the President’s proposal includes a $2.1 trillion tax increase.

I am disappointed with the President’s Budget.  Ultimately, I want to work with this administration, and I hope that we can find common ground. But the President has to demonstrate that he’s interested in governing, not just posturing. Tackling big policy challenges—like expanding American exports and reforming our tax code—requires not just hard work, but also an appreciation that our economy grows best from the bottom up with empowered individuals, rather than top down through government.

As Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, I will remain focused on an optimistic agenda to move America forward, and I hope the president is willing to rethink his tax-and-spend approach so we can get things done for the American people.

Ways and Means Committee Legislation

As the 114th Congress continues, the Ways and Means Committee has advanced numerous pieces of legislation designed to help make the tax code more simple and fair.  I want to highlight two pieces in particular. 

As you may know, Section 529 plans are a popular method of saving for college – used by families across the country.  In its initial iteration, the President’s FY 2016 Budget proposed to tax certain future distributions made from 529 savings plans; however, given an immediate bipartisan concern with this idea, the proposal was stripped from the President’s final budget.  While I was pleased to see the President did not include this proposal in his final budget proposal, I was encouraged to see the House act on legislation designed to expand, strengthen and modernize 529 college savings accounts.  In late February, the House considered H.R. 529, which was agreed to by a vote of 401-20.  I look forward to the Senate acting on this common sense piece of legislation.  

Further, during the week of April 13th, the House considered, HR 1105, the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015.  As you may know, I have long supported full and permanent repeal of the estate tax because I do not believe that death should be a taxable event, and because it acts as a direct, job-killing tax on family-owned farms and small businesses, which created countless good jobs in Wisconsin and across the country over the last decade.  For these reasons, I was pleased to support this legislation, which passed in a bipartisan fashion by a vote of 240-179. 

Ultimately, Washington must put the taxpayer first – not the government.  In my capacity as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, I will continue to work to advance common sense pieces of legislation which do just that.    

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