For Immediate Release
February 17, 2011
Contact:

Julia Lawless, Antonia Ferrier, (202) 224-4515

In Speech, Hatch Outlines Why Deficit Reduction Cannot Be Achieved Through Tax Hikes

Utah Senator Says, “If we raised taxes to eliminate the deficit, the current levels of spending would just cause a new deficit to arise.”

WASHINGTON – On the two-year anniversary of the failed trillion-dollar stimulus spending bill, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, outlined in a speech on the Senate floor why raising taxes will not solve the nation’s spending-fueled, debt crisis, and that raising taxes to eliminate the deficit would only cause a new deficit to arise.  Below are excerpts of Hatch’s speech:

ON THE PRESIDENT’S BUDGET:
“The President could have led on this issue, when he released his budget earlier this week.  But he took a pass instead.  Apparently he and his Democratic congressional allies have done some polling that tells them two things.

“First, the American people are demanding that Washington tackle our annual deficits and skyrocketing debt.  And second, Democrats can benefit politically by standing aside, letting Republicans propose solutions to this problem, and then demagoguing the daylights out of any effort to restrain spending.”

ON ADMINISTRATION’S COMMITMENT TO KEEPING TAX BURDEN AT 18 PERCENT OF NATION’S ECONOMIC OUTPUT:
“So, if taxes are high enough already, should we raise them anyway?  I’ll go ahead and answer my own rhetorical question.  Of course we shouldn’t raise taxes any higher.    

“On August 14, 2008, Jason Furman and Austan Goolsbee wrote a Wall Street Journal editorial.  In that editorial, Furman and Goolsbee stated that Candidate Obama’s tax plan would reduce “revenues to less than 18.2% of GDP – the level of taxes that prevailed under President Reagan.” 

“The President must have missed their editorial, because his recently released budget ignores the campaign promises of these top officials, and raises taxes well above their historical levels.”

ON THE FAILED STIMULUS:
“The President and his allies like to say that they inherited these deficits.  That is only a half-truth. They inherited some of the debt and deficits.  But they have helped to create much more.  That bill was loaded with pent-up Democratic agenda items and was sold with the promise that it would keep unemployment below 8 percent. 

“We all know that by the President’s own standard, the stimulus bill has failed miserably.  Unemployment has been at or above 9 percent for the last 21 months.  That stimulus debt was not inherited by President Obama.  It was created by President Obama. And he is bequeathing it to all of our children and grandchildren.  The numbers don’t lie.”

ON TAX HIKES NOT SOLVING THE SPENDING-FUELED DEBT CRISIS:
“We cannot get out of this hole by taking more of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.  Our debt and deficit problems exist because Washington spends too much, not because taxes are too low. 

“It is a terrible idea to propose raising taxes by over $1.6 trillion on net over the next 10 years alone.  Yet, that is exactly what the Obama Administration’s budget, released earlier this week, proposes.    Even after these astronomical tax increases, the President is still unable to balance the budget.  And there are not many more easy targets for Democrats to tax.”

Below is the text of Hatch’s full speech delivered on the Senate floor this afternoon:

Mr. President, this week the Senate began a debate about nothing less than the future of this country.  Next year we face a $1.65 trillion deficit, the third year in a row where the United States will run a deficit of over a trillion dollars.

Even more daunting, we are over $14 trillion in total debt.  According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, the debt held by the public is projected to reach $18.3 trillion — or 77 percent of GDP — by the end of 2021. This is a problem that truly threatens the well-being of this nation.

CBO projects that the cost of simply paying the interest on all of this debt will rise to $792 billion — or 3.3 percent of GDP — in 2021.

When you are pushing $1 trillion a year in interest payments alone, you are reaching a day when the national government will not have the resources to accomplish even the limited mission delegated to it by the Constitution.

This is what Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meant when he testified that “our debt is the greatest threat to national security.”

The President could have led on this issue, when he released his budget earlier this week.  But he took a pass instead.  Apparently he and his Democratic congressional allies have done some polling that tells them two things.

First, the American people are demanding that Washington tackle our annual deficits and skyrocketing debt.  And second, Democrats can benefit politically by standing aside, letting Republicans propose solutions to this problem, and then demagoguing the daylights out of any effort to restrain spending.

The coming debate is going to be a bruising one.  But as we go forward, it is critical that we keep one thing in mind.

We cannot get out of this hole by taking more of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.  Our debt and deficit problems exist because Washington spends too much, not because taxes are too low. 
It is a terrible idea to propose raising taxes by over $1.6 trillion on net over the next 10 years alone.  Yet, that is exactly what the Obama Administration’s budget, released earlier this week, proposes.   

I said it earlier this week, and I will say it again.  This budget PROVES ONCE AND FOR ALL that our deficits and debt are not caused by our taxes being too low.

The President has proposed a net tax increase of over $1.6 trillion.  Yet for next year — and every year — of his ten year budget, he runs a deficit.  At their best, the annual deficits dip to roughly $600 billion.

Even after these astronomical tax increases, the President is still unable to balance the budget.  And there are not many more easy targets for Democrats to tax.

In 2012, in a foolish attempt at class warfare, Democrats are prepared to let the tax rates expire with far reaching consequences for the small business owners who account for half of all small business flow-through income.  Those small business owners would see their marginal rates hiked by 17 percent to 24 percent under this budget.

In Obamacare they taxed medical devices, insurance plans, prescription drugs, small businesses, and individual Americans.

The result — a surprise only to the most hardened ideologues — is the loss of 800,000 jobs according to the Congressional Budget Office.  And yet they still can’t balance the budget.

So who else do they propose to tax?  The bottom line is that there isn’t anyone left to tax, unless the President and his Democratic allies are willing to crush the middle class with additional tax burdens.

There is only one way out.  We need to restrain spending.

As the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Congressman Paul Ryan, explained, we need to get spending in line with revenue, not the other way around.

The analyses of the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, confirm this.  The CBO is the non-partisan official scorekeeper for Congress.  According to its January 2011 Budget and Economic Outlook, from 1971 to 2010, taxes have averaged 18 percent of gross domestic product, or GDP.  So in recent history, we’ve had an average level of taxation of 18 percent of GDP. 
Take a look at this chart that was made using CBO’s January 2011 document. 

CBO explains that if no changes in law are made, taxes will go up to 20.8 percent of GDP by 2021, and will average 19.9 percent from 2012 to 2021.  Taxes at 20.8 percent of GDP would represent a tax increase of 16 percent from their recent historical average. 

CBO also states that if most of the provisions from the December 2010 tax act were made permanent, then “annual revenues would average about 18 percent of GDP through 2021 (which is equal to their 40-year average).” 

So, according to CBO, even if all the Bush-era tax rates were permanently extended, taxes would still be high enough when measured against the level of taxation in recent history. 
So, if taxes are high enough already, should we raise them anyway?  I’ll go ahead and answer my own rhetorical question.  Of course we shouldn’t raise taxes any higher.    

On August 14, 2008, Jason Furman and Austan Goolsbee wrote a Wall Street Journal editorial.  In that editorial, Furman and Goolsbee stated that Candidate Obama’s tax plan would reduce “revenues to less than 18.2% of GDP – the level of taxes that prevailed under President Reagan.” 

Today, Austan Goolsbee is the Chairman of the Obama Administration’s Council of Economic Advisers.  And Jason Furman is the Deputy Director of the Obama Administration’s National Economic Council.

The President must have missed their editorial, because his recently released budget ignores the campaign promises of these top officials, and raises taxes well above their historical levels. 
As one writer has put it, all of the President’s campaign promises seem to come with an expiration date. 

As this debate over the debt and deficits rages on, pay close attention to the words that Republicans and Democrats use.  You will hear Republicans say that we need spending restraint.  By contrast, you will hear Democrats say that we need to deal with the deficit. 
Let’s be clear.  Dealing with the deficit is code for raising taxes. 

Liberal pundit after liberal pundit will pronounce confidently that you can’t deal with the deficit solely with spending restraint.

Yet they won’t say why.  And they won’t explain how you can deal with the deficit and debt through tax increases.  That’s because they can’t.

If they came clean with the American people, they would have to admit that their intention is to raise taxes on everyone and everything.

As I’ve already shown, taxes are high enough already, and we should not be raising them even higher. Yet the bottom line is that rather than dealing seriously with out-of-control spending, tax-and-spend Democrats want to raise taxes to pay for more out-of-control spending. 
And guess what.  If we raised taxes to eliminate the deficit, the current levels of spending would just cause a new deficit to arise. 

I have a chart here that demonstrates just how futile it is to raise the top tax rate if the goal is to raise more money.

When the top tax rate has been raised over the years, taxes as a percentage of GDP still hovered around their historical average of 18 percent.  This held true even when the top tax rate was raised to a confiscatory level of over 90 percent. 

The conventional wisdom on the other side of the aisle is that we can simply raise more tax revenue by increasing tax rates.  However, the history is pretty clear. This strategy simply does not work. 

Just take another look at this chart if you don’t believe me.   Instead of raising tax rates, what we need to do is implement a pro-growth tax policy. 

That starts with not raising taxes.  For two years, we were able to fight off tax increases on small businesses proposed by President Obama and Congressional Democratic Leadership. 
However, I have another chart here that shows the relationship between the annual growth of federal revenues and GDP. 

As you can see from this chart, when GDP increases, federal revenues increase.  Similarly, when GDP decreases, federal revenues decrease. This should not be a shocking revelation.  When the economy is growing, the government collects more money in tax revenues because there is more taxable income being earned.  The key is to have common sense, pro-growth tax and regulatory policies. 

And as I mentioned before, a pro-growth agenda starts with refusing to raise taxes.  Part of the difference between Republicans and Democrats on whether to increase taxes comes from different ways of looking at the world. 

Conservative Republicans look at the money earned by the American people and understand that it belongs to the people.  As free men and women, America’s citizens have a right to the fruit of their own labors.

Americans work too hard — they sacrifice too much — for Washington to blithely raise their taxes to pay for an ever expanding federal government.

Yet liberal Democrats have a different view.  Listening to President Obama and many Congressional Democrats, it is clear that they view the money earned by the American people as the federal government’s money first.

It is only by the grace of the federal bureaucracy that citizens are given an allowance to live on.
This is a huge difference.

You hear it when liberals talk about the cost of tax cuts.  The cost of tax cuts? Cost to whom?
When Democrats talk like this, they are effectively saying that anything you earn is the government’s to spend.  And it is a cost to the government when they decide to let you keep your money.

For most Americans, this is an odd way of looking at the world.

Government costs money when it spends trillions of dollars on who-knows-what. The taxpayer does not cost the government money when he keeps what he earns.

Yet this liberal worldview was on clear display in the recent debate about whether to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax bills.  President Obama and many Congressional Democrats said that we shouldn’t be giving tax breaks to certain taxpayers. 

Since when did keeping your own hard-earned money constitute the government giving you anything?  That is not how the American people view it.  And it’s not how I view it. 
President Obama and many Congressional Democrats viewed a failure to increase taxes as a giveaway to taxpayers that increased the deficit. 

Republicans viewed a job-killing tax increase with nearly 10 percent unemployment as a terrible idea. 

The way to deal with the deficit is not to raise taxes.  The way to deal with the deficit is to live within our means.

Just like families and individuals do across America, the federal government should only spend what it takes in. 

The President and his allies like to say that they inherited these deficits.  That is only a half-truth. They inherited some of the debt and deficits.  But they have helped to create much more.  That bill was loaded with pent-up Democratic agenda items and was sold with the promise that it would keep unemployment below 8 percent. 

We all know that by the President’s own standard, the stimulus bill has failed miserably.  Unemployment has been at or above 9 percent for the last 21 months. 

That stimulus debt was not inherited by President Obama.  It was created by President Obama. And he is bequeathing it to all of our children and grandchildren.  The numbers don’t lie.
When Democrats took over Washington, it was like setting Homer Simpson loose at an all-you-can-eat buffet.  For too long, the desire of unions, and government workers, and special interest groups to create new programs and grow the size of government had gone unfulfilled.  And when they finally seized the reins of power in 2008, liberal Democrats went hog wild.

Our nation’s deficit has gone from $161 billion in 2007 — when Democrats took over control of Congress — to $1.65 trillion in 2011.  With respect to the debt, when Congressional Democrats took over control of Congress in 2007, the debt was $8.68 trillion.  It is now over $14 trillion. 
So when Democrats are talking about what a bad situation they inherited, let’s remember that these folks have been in charge of Congress for the last 4 years.

And they acted as though the bills on their spending would never come due. And like a college student who maxed out his parents’ credit card, Democrats are now looking for someone to bail them out.

Unfortunately, they are looking to the American taxpayer to foot their bill.  This cannot happen.  The American taxpayer is already overburdened.  And citizens are not going to stand for tax hikes when spending restraint is called for.

The bottom line is simple. We cannot tax our way out of this problem.  And I will resist any attempt to do so.

I yield the floor.

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