Weekly remarks: GOP's Jon Kyl warns of new taxes; Obama hails his stimulus tax cuts
Hello. I’m Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona.
The effects of the ongoing economic slump have been severe and have touched all Americans. Too many people have lost jobs; others are working reduced hours or for lower pay. The latest report shows that unemployment has stubbornly stayed at just below 10 percent. Nearly four million workers have lost their jobs since President Obama took office.
The American people have been telling Washington that promoting job growth must be the first priority. But, for more than a year, Congress and the President have focused instead on a controversial health spending bill which a majority of Americans said they didn’t want.
Recognizing that their $1.2 trillion stimulus has failed and in a frantic, election-year push, Democrats in Congress are labeling every bill they bring up as a ‘jobs’ bill. Most are....
Republicans have a better plan. We believe the best course is to encourage job creation by private companies. And the way to do that is to limit intrusion by Washington and to keep taxes at a manageable level. The federal government has been growing at an astonishing rate. Just last year, the government borrowed $1.4 trillion! The American economy cannot grow and create good jobs if Washington spending takes more and more resources out of the private economy.
Second, we must not raise taxes. Under current law, unless Congress acts, taxes will rise dramatically on December 31st. Taxes will increase on families with children, on married couples, on income, on capital gains and dividends, and even after death.
It comes to a total of $2 trillion in new taxes over the next 10 years. And that doesn’t include the more than $500 billion in new taxes in the health spending law.
Since most small businesses pay taxes as individuals, the increase in marginal income tax rates will hit job creators hard. Businesses are reluctant to hire because they are unsure about their future tax costs.
Unfortunately, Democrats in Congress have yet to say whether they will prevent this massive tax hike. And, they’ve even proposed new taxes like the cap-and-trade bill.
Republicans believe we need to act now, in a bipartisan way, to head off these tax increases. That would show job creators and families that it’s safe to invest and save.
So, these are two Republican ideas: First, reining in Washington spending. Second, keeping taxes at a manageable level. If we do these two things, private businesses and American families will be able to save, invest, and plan for the future. Together, we can help put Americans back to work. ####
All across America are good, decent folks who meet their obligations each and every day. They work hard. They support their families. They try to make an honest living the best they can. And this weekend, many are sitting down to pay the taxes they owe – not because it’s fun, but because it’s a fundamental responsibility of our citizenship.
But in tough times, when many families are having trouble just making it all work, Tax Day can seem even more daunting. This year, however, many Americans are seeing some welcome relief.
So far, Americans who have filed their taxes have discovered that the average refund is up nearly ten percent this year – to an all-time high of about $3,000. This is due in large part to the Recovery Act. In fact, one-third of the Recovery Act was made up of tax cuts – tax cuts that have already provided more than $160 billion in relief for families and businesses, and nearly $100 billion of that directly into the pockets of working Americans.
No one I’ve met is looking for a handout. And that’s not what these tax cuts are. Instead, they’re targeted relief to help middle class families weather the storm, to jumpstart our economy, and to bring the fundamentals of the American Dream – making an honest living, earning an education, owning a home, and raising a family – back within reach for millions of Americans.
First, because folks who work hard should be able to make a decent living, I kept a promise I made when I campaigned for this office and cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans. For most Americans, this Making Work Pay tax credit began showing up in your paychecks last April. And it continues this year, for a total of $400 per individual and $800 per couple, per year.
Second, because a college education is critical to the success of our workers and our economy, we’re helping to make it more affordable for millions of Americans. Millions of students and parents paying for college tuition are now eligible for up to $2,500 under the American Opportunity Credit. Along with a host of other steps we’ve taken, this will help us reach our goal of once again having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
Third, we’re restoring the home as a source of stability and an anchor of the American Dream. If you’ve bought a home for the first time, you’re eligible for a credit of up to $8,000. And if you bought a new car last year, you can deduct the state and local sales taxes you paid on that car.
Fourth, whether you bought a home for the first time or you’ve owned one for a long time, if you invested in making your home more energy-efficient with certain improvements like new insulation or windows, or plan to this year, you’re eligible for up to $1,500 in new tax credits. This does more than just put money back in your pocket; it’s helping create new clean energy, manufacturing, and construction jobs at small businesses across the country.
Fifth, to help working families with children through difficult times, we increased the Earned Income Tax Credit and allowed more families to qualify for the Child Tax Credit.
Finally, for those who lost their jobs in the recession and need some help getting back on their feet, we provided a 65 percent tax credit to help cover the cost of health care and made sure the first $2,400 in unemployment benefits is tax-free.
These are among the tax breaks and savings that are available to over one hundred million Americans right now. It’s also important to note that the new health reform law includes the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, and once it’s implemented; millions of Americans will finally be able to purchase quality, affordable care and the security and peace of mind that comes with it. And one thing we have not done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000.That’s another promise we’ve kept.
We’ve also made it easy to find out what’s owed to you and your family. After all, the big guys know how to find their tax breaks; it’s time you did, too. Just visit WhiteHouse.gov and click on the Tax Savings Tool. It’s already been accessed more than 100,000 times by folks who want to see what savings they’re owed and how to collect them. If you’ve already filed your taxes and missed some of the savings available to you, don’t worry – you can still amend your returns after April 15th to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
And just as each of us meets our responsibilities as citizens, we expect our businesses and our government to meet theirs in return. That’s why I’ve asked Congress to close some of the biggest tax loopholes exploited by some of our most profitable corporations to avoid paying their fair share – or, in some cases, paying taxes at all. That’s why we’re tightening Washington’s belt by cutting programs that don’t work, contracts that aren’t fair, and spending we don’t need. And that’s why I’ve proposed a freeze on discretionary spending, signed a law that restores the pay-as-you-go principle that helped produce the surpluses of the 1990s, and created a bipartisan, independent commission to help solve our fiscal crisis and close the deficits that have been growing for a decade. Because I refuse to leave our problems to the next generation.
It’s been a tough couple years for America. But the economy is growing again. Companies are beginning to hire again. We are rewarding work and helping more of our people reach for the American Dream again. And while there’s no doubt we still face a long journey together, with more steps to take, more obstacles to overcome, and more challenges to face along the way; if there is one thing of which the people of this great country have convinced me, it’s that the United States of America will recover, stronger than before.
Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend. ###
Photos: Associated Press; Dennis Cook / Associated Press (Kyl); Pete Souza / White House.