Levin Opening Statement at Markup of Select Expanded Tax Provisions

Jun 25, 2014

(Remarks as delivered)

In February, Chairman Camp unveiled a Republican tax reform proposal that he hailed as comprehensive, trimming the tax code by 25 percent without adding anything to the deficit within the first 10 years.

In a matter of just four months since then, Republicans have moved in ways that both dramatically contradict the draft tax reform package and threaten the programs that matter to American families.

The proposals Republicans have brought forward in recent months – including the two provisions today – would selectively and permanently expand the tax code without a single offset, adding $825 billion to the deficit.

That results from just 14 tax provisions. Imagine what the total will be when Republicans get through the entire tax code.

The hypocrisy of the Republican fiscal irresponsibility is simply stunning. It was barely more than two months ago that Republicans argued that the Ryan-Republican budget – which they claimed would balance the budget in 10 years – was the fiscal medicine this nation needed.

Our colleague Congressman Brady said at the time that “Americans have had it with Washington’s fiscal irresponsibility.” Chairman Ryan said that we cannot “continue spending way beyond your means.”

What Republicans continue to do today is not only ignore their own lofty rhetoric but also their own budget, which required that any tax cuts be offset. Instead, they continue to drive their runaway tax train into a deficit ditch so deep that when all is said and done taxpayers will be on the hook for more than $1 trillion in additional debt.

The $825 billion in tax spending that Republicans will have approved out of the committee after today represents more than one-and-a-half times what we spent last year on all non-defense domestic discretionary spending, which has been slashed by Republicans to its lowest level on record, as a percentage of GDP.

That includes spending for such vital domestic priorities as health research, food safety, and veterans’ health care.

Already that spending is on pace to fall below 2 percent of GDP within the next decade. When Republicans eventually come hunting for cuts to rein in a debt that they are voting to add an additional $200 billion today, we know where they’ll turn.

Nowhere yet in the Republican piecemeal plan to expand the tax code and the deficit has there been any discussion of key priorities, such as making permanent the expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families, the New Markets Tax Credit to revitalize lower-income neighborhoods, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to promote middle-income job growth, and the renewable energy tax credits.

In fact, while proposing today to make permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which expires in 2017, Republicans expose a key concern that the 2017 expiration of the expansions to the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit will not be addressed in the piecemeal approach Republicans are pursuing.

It’s safe to say the Republican tax reform train has derailed and that the collateral damage is everywhere.