Back to the Future

Posted: Mar 30, 2007 9:13 AM
Back to the Future

The same folks who larded up the emergency war appropriations bill with billions of dollars in pork-barrel projects are at it again. Yesterday House Democrats voted to impose the largest tax hike in American history. Every spring Congress approves a budget blueprint that lays out its spending priorities and revenue assumptions for the next fiscal year and those that will follow. The budget approved by Democrats on Thursday reverses 12 years of Republican tax cuts and pro-growth policies. It lays the groundwork for increasing personal income tax rates on middle-income families, slashing the child tax credit, reinstating the marriage penalty and bringing back the death tax.

We've seen this play before. The last time Americans faced a massive tax hike was in 1993 -- the last time Democrats were in the majority. President Clinton campaigned on middle class tax cuts only to turn around and sign what was then the largest tax hike in history. But Clinton's tax hike pales before this one.

While Democratic friends may view them as just lines on a page, these impending tax hikes are real dollars and cents. Their budget would raise the tax bill for every working American -- 115 million taxpayers will see their taxes go up by an average of $1,795. And if you're married, have children, or own a small business, you're in for extra punishment.

For example, 48 million married couples will face an average tax increase of $2,899. Seventeen million elderly individuals will pay an average tax increase of $2,270; 26 million small business owners will be hit by an average tax increase $3,960. More than five million individuals and families who would have seen their income tax liabilities completely eliminated will now have to pay taxes. And by failing to reform or eliminate the alternative minimum tax (AMT) that's threatening to engulf more and more Americans, the Democrats' budget imposes an immediate $50 billion tax hike on middle class families.

That isn't all. By using a budget gimmick known as a "reserve fund," Democrats propose additional spending for federal programs, promising to pay for it later. How? Given their track record, the most likely scenario is that Democrats would burden the middle class with an additional $115 billion in new taxes.

The president's tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 are a principal reason the economy has enjoyed an uninterrupted string of monthly employment gains. Tax relief under the Republicans has fueled five straight years of overall growth and led to enormous capital investment. By coupling tax hikes with their insatiable appetite for political pork, the Democrats' budget could bring economic growth to an abrupt end.

Yesterday's budget resolution is not the first assault on taxpayers. On the first day of the 110th Congress, Democrats voted against a Republican proposal to ensure a two-thirds vote is necessary to raise the family tax burden. Once that was accomplished, the Democrats went on to impose more than $6.5 billion in new taxes on American energy producers, which will lead to higher gas prices and higher energy bills for consumers. They tied critical funding for America's troops to billions in pork-spending -- including $25 million for spinach farmers and $75 million for peanut storage. And they hid millions of dollars in earmarks in a giant spending bill.

While Democrats approved the raid on taxpayers' wallets, House Republicans have suggested Washington tighten its belt. We put forward a bold budget proposal that balances the federal budget within five years without raising taxes. Drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), our proposal includes critical protections for Social Security and significant reforms aimed at stemming the coming fiscal tsunami driven by explosive growth in entitlement spending -- something Democrats completely ignore in their budget.

There is no question that we Republicans could have done a much better job while we were in the majority. But last year we made a concerted effort to recommit to fiscal discipline, approving lean spending bills and implementing important reforms aimed at reducing the number of pork-barrel projects. We clearly have more work to do. But the Democrats' budget takes us two steps backward, and middle class families will be hardest hit.

To reach our goal of a balanced budget, we need to exercise fiscal restraint, keep taxes low and promote economic growth. We need to reduce earmarks, pass the line-item veto to crack down on worthless pork, and put an end to the excessive waste, fraud and abuse within the federal government. House Republicans have made this effort a top priority.

There are very real differences on Capitol Hill when it comes to fiscal responsibility. Democrats think we can spend our way out of every problem; Republicans will continue to work to help fiscal sanity triumph over fiscal recklessness.