2010-11-11 / General Stories

American People Call for Smaller Government, Less Taxes in Election

By U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

Over the past two years, American citizens have mobilized against a big government agenda that was forced through Congress with little regard for what the public wanted or what the nation needed. Americans’ frustration with the Obama Administration came to the fore during health care debate last year. At congressional town halls and at local community meetings, citizens were clear in their opposition to this outrageous government intrusion into the very personal issue of health care. But the Administration and their allies in Congress did not listen and continued to pursue, and ultimately pass, the $2.6 trillion health care bill, along with the nearly $800 billion stimulus, and countless other provisions that have stifled economic growth, pushed unemployment to nearly 10 percent, pushed our national debt to over $13 trillion, and increased the reach of the federal government.

On Election Day, Americans got the final word when they took their opposition to the ballot box. The midterm election results are a clear repudiation of the disastrous policies of the last two years. And voters have asked Republicans, with the majority in the House and with strengthened ranks in the Senate, to cut spending, reduce the debt, prevent tax hikes, and foster job creation and economic growth. The people sent a clear message that they want their elected representatives to stop the growth of government, bring fiscal sanity to our budget process, and allow Americans to keep more of their own money. And that’s just what we intend to do.

I believe our most urgent priority is to halt the historic tax hikes that are set to hit all Americans and businesses on January 1, 2011. We cannot afford to wait for the new Congress to be sworn in before we take action. If we fail to extend the tax cuts, 43 million families with children would be forced to pay $2,300 more in taxes each year; more than 18 million seniors will owe $2,200 more in taxes; and 27 million small businesses will owe $4,100 more in taxes. Texas households would lose an average of over $20,000 in discretionary spending between now and 2020. The death tax would return with a vengeance- going from no death tax today to a 55 percent tax rate on estates over $1 million. Capital gains taxes would rise from 15 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011, and dividends could reach as high as 39.6 percent...all if no action is taken before year-end by Congress and the president.

American families and businesses need to know what their tax liabilities will be. Uncertainty can cripple job creation, savings plans, and a business or a family’s future expenditure planning. Raising taxes in this economic climate is unthinkable, and there is no justification for failing to act immediately and on a bipartisan basis to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for everyone.

Tackling some of the biggest challenges, like reversing the ill effects of the health care law, will require focus, tenacity, and patience. Our ultimate goal remains repealing the health care law and replacing it with the right reforms, but the reality is the Democrats maintain control of the Senate and the president holds the power of the veto pen. We will continuously bring repeal legislation to the floor and call on our col- leagues to vote on it. We will work to strip the bill of the most onerous provisions, like the 1099 reporting requirement and the employer mandate, one-by-one. We will work with the new majority in the House to delay the law’s implementation.

To get our financial house in order, we need to freeze and cut federal discretionary spending. A bipartisan group of senators have put forward a proposal to set caps now for discretionary spending through 2014, except for defense spending. Taking this modest step now, we can reduce deficits by $300 billion over the next ten years. We should be able to rally around this and other commonsense actions to impose the badly needed budget discipline that Americans expect. We will also call for an open amendment process so we are able to vote to keep spending bills lean. In addition, I believe all unspent and unallocated funds in the 2009 stimulus bill should be cancelled. This would reduce the projected deficits immediately.

Republicans are now in a stronger position to stop the big government agenda that the voters strongly repudiated at the polls on Tuesday. The American people have chosen lower taxes and the fiscal discipline needed to stabilize our economy and put Americans back to work. They have chosen conservative principles. I look forward to working to advance those principles on behalf of the people in the U.S. Senate.

Kay Bailey Hutchison is the senior U.S. Senator from Texas and is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

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