Weekly remarks: Mark Kirk says the unelected shouldn't raise taxes; Biden hails military families
Hello, I’m Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. Last month, the American people sent a clear message to Washington: Spend less, borrow less and tax less to put America back to work.
Unfortunately, too many in Washington want to continue the reckless tax-and-spend policies of the past. They ignore the warning signs of more debt, taxes and inflation. They embrace wasteful government spending and pork-barrel earmarks. And they think a new massive tax hike on the U.S. economy is exactly what the American people need.
The current leaders of Congress should not move forward with plans that were just....
Americans already pay some of the highest taxes in the world. By raising taxes in order to fuel higher spending, we threaten to restart the recession, pushing millions of Americans out of work.
Right now, families and small business owners are scratching their heads asking one simple question: What will my tax rate be next month?
Taxpayers don’t know what their personal income tax rates will be come January 1st.
Family business employers don’t know what the death tax will be.
Investors and small businesses don’t know what the capital gains rate will be.
Their uncertainty hurts our economy. It’s unfair and short-sighted.
Congress should set its highest priority on preventing the massive tax hike currently scheduled to hit our economy on January 1st.
Meanwhile, our mounting debts pose a clear and present danger to our future. It’s time to cast aside our partisan differences and work across the aisle to solve this problem.
Congress should set an example by ending pork-barrel earmarks and cutting its own budget. This week, Senate Democrats rejected a proposal to end wasteful earmark spending. Their decision was disappointing and disconnected from the American people.
In the weeks ahead, Republicans and Democrats should enact bipartisan solutions to cut federal spending like a presidential line-item veto, a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and a new procedure to ensure spending reductions actually happen.
In the 1980s, President Reagan’s bipartisan Grace Commission set the standard for serious oversight by identifying federal spending that would add little to our nation's growth but much to its debt. Marrying a new Grace Commission with the authority to submit a proposal to Congress for a straight up or down vote would lead to actual spending reductions. This proposal is in my first Senate bill –- the Spending Control Act.
Harvard economic historian Niall Ferguson warned that the decline of a great power is clear when a country pays more to its money lenders than its army. We face that year when interest payments on our debt tops our defense budget as soon as 2016. It’s clear, we need to cut spending to avoid a bankrupt future for our kids and our country.
I believe that America’s best days still lie ahead of us. If we correct our economic policy by focusing on growth and spending discipline, the sky will once again be the limit for young Americans.
Spend less, borrow less and tax less to put America back to work. That’s what we heard from the American people last month – and that’s what we should expect from our leaders today. May God bless you, your families during this holiday season, and may God bless the United States of America. ####
Hi, this is Joe Biden. I’m filling in for President Obama this weekend because he’s on his way back from Afghanistan, where he was spending some time with the brave men and women of our armed forces.
It’s tough to be far from home during the holidays, especially in a war zone, so he wanted to be there in person to thank them on behalf of all Americans for their service and the sacrifice each one of them are making. And here at home, the first lady and my wife, Jill, have made supporting military families a priority. These families are also making difficult sacrifices for our country, and they deserve our admiration and gratitude as well.
Our service members and their families are always on our mind, even as the president and I are working on other issues that all American families are deeply concerned about: accelerating our recovery, growing our economy, strengthening our middle class and getting our friends and neighbors back to work.
In recent months, we’ve seen encouraging signs on that front. After shrinking for four straight quarters, our economy has now grown five straight quarters. After nearly two years of job loss, our economy has created more than 1 million private sector jobs just this year.
And after teetering on the brink of liquidation last year, our auto industry is posting healthy gains, assembly lines are running again, and American manufacturing is getting up off the mat and fighting its way back.
Still, Friday’s jobs report was a sobering reminder of that. While we saw another month of job growth in November, it just wasn’t enough.
That underscores why it’s so important to get going without delay on two things that will have the most impact in growing the economy.
One: We’ve got to extend the tax cuts for the middle class that are set to expire at the end of the month. If we don’t, millions of middle-class families will see a big bite out of their paychecks starting January 1. And that’s the last thing we should let happen. After a decade in which they lost ground, middle-class families can ill-afford a tax hike -- and our economy can’t afford the hit it will take if middle-class families have less money to spend.
And the second thing we’ve got to do is extend unemployment insurance for Americans who have lost their jobs in a tough economy. Without unemployment benefits, families can’t spend on basic necessities that are grown, made and sold by other Americans.
Together, the economic hit caused by raising taxes on the middle class and denying 2 million Americans unemployment insurance will wind up costing us hundreds of thousands of more jobs. It just isn’t smart.
And, cutting unemployment insurance is not only not smart, it’s not right either. It would mean telling millions of our neighbors who are out of work today through no fault of their own, that they’re on their own.
That’s no message to send in the season of hope. We all know someone who’s hit a rough patch. When that happens in America, we help him get back up on his feet. That’s who we are. That’s the American way.
So I just don’t agree with the folks who’ve said we can’t afford a lifeline for Americans who lost their jobs during the worst recession in generations, but we can afford to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. That’s bad economic policy, and it’s also just simply wrong.
Congress must extend these needed unemployment benefits before it goes home for the year. And it must bolster economic growth by preserving tax cuts for our middle class. I’m glad that the House of Representatives voted to do that this week, and I call on the United States Senate to do the same.
Look, there’s no doubt these are tough times. But we are slowly but surely fighting our way back, moving forward. And we’re going to keep fighting -- to grow this economy, to strengthen our middle class, and to restore the American Dream. That’s my pledge to you.
And hey, one last thing -- since the president will be back to record this message next week, let me take this chance to say from my family to yours: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, have a great holiday season and an even better New Year. Thanks, and enjoy the weekend. ####
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Photos: Manuel Balce Cene / Associated Press; Kirk's office; Pete Souza / White House.