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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight, today spoke on the Senate floor about the striking contrast between Democrats’ and Republicans’ approach to tax policy. Thune noted that Democrats view it as a way to collect money to pursue their big-government and big-spending agenda, whereas Republicans’ primary focus is helping the economy grow, expanding prosperity for all, and making sure taxpayers keep more of their hard-earned dollars.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, the budget President Biden released a few weeks ago is perhaps most notable for two things – the incredible levels of spending it proposes, and its proposed $4.7 trillion in tax hikes.
“$4.7 trillion in tax hikes.
“On top of the hundreds of billions in tax hikes Democrats passed last August.
“Mr. President, one thing that always strikes me when the president talks about tax hikes is how little his tax plans have to do with things like economic growth and prosperity.
“Taxes, of course, have a huge impact on our economy and our capacity for prosperity.
“I don’t need to tell anyone that.
“The more in taxes individuals and businesses pay to the government, the less money they have to save, spend, and grow.
“And you would think that everyone would be able to agree that our tax system should promote both individual prosperity and economic growth.
“But, as I said, when you hear the president talk about taxes – specifically, about raising taxes, since that’s mostly what the president talks about on the tax front – you don’t usually hear him focusing on the ways in which his tax plans will help grow our economy.
“His interest in taxes is not growing our economy; it’s growing the government – and furthering a highly partisan, progressive social agenda.
“President Biden and Democrats have big plans for expanding the federal government, and to do that, they need taxpayers’ money.
“And they regard tax policy not as a way to help secure economic prosperity, but as a way to collect that money so that they can follow through on their plans for new and ever-expanding government programs.
“And they spend little if any time considering how their high-taxes agenda might damage our economy or burden American families.
“Mr. President, it’s a striking contrast to how Republicans think about taxes.
“Republicans’ primary interest when it comes to tax policy is not about how to bring in more money for the federal government; it’s about how to help our economy grow to expand prosperity for all.
“We believe that tax policy should be pro-growth, pro-opportunity, and pro-taxpayer.
“The historic reform of our tax code that we passed in 2017 is a perfect example of this.
“Prior to our 2017 legislation – the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – our tax code was not working for taxpayers or for our economy.
“It was taking too much money from Americans’ paychecks.
“It was making it difficult for businesses large and small to create jobs, increase wages, and grow.
“And it contained perverse incentives for companies to park profits abroad and avoid manufacturing things here in the United States.
“Republicans knew that if we wanted our country to thrive, our outdated tax code needed to change.
“And so we set to work to reform our tax code to help grow our economy and allow Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money.
“We lowered tax rates across the board and simplified the tax code so that hardworking Americans would pay less in taxes – and spend less time filing them every April.
“We lowered tax rates for owners of small and medium-sized businesses, farms, and ranches and made it easier for them to recover the cost of investing in their businesses – which in turn freed up cash for them to invest in their operations and their workers.
“We lowered our nation’s massive corporate tax rate – which prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world – to make American businesses more competitive in the global economy and empower them to invest in wages and benefits for their workers.
“And we brought our international tax system into the 21st century so that American businesses would no longer be operating at a disadvantage next to their foreign counterparts.
“And, Mr. President, it worked.
“In the wake of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, incomes grew.
“Unemployment fell to a 50-year low.
“The poverty rate fell to the lowest level ever recorded.
“Black Americans and Hispanic Americans saw record-low rates of poverty and record-high increases in income.
“The income gap narrowed.
“Business investment increased.
“Inversions – that’s tax-speak for companies moving their headquarters overseas – stopped.
“And the list goes on.
“Companies created new jobs.
“They invested in their employees.
“And they opened new opportunities for American workers by moving production and capital into the United States.
“And contrary to what some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would have you believe, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also helped increase revenues to the federal government.
“In short, tax reform helped create an economic environment for American businesses and American taxpayers to prosper – with some of the biggest benefits going to lower- and middle-income Americans.
“And our economy’s rebound from COVID – and much of the strength it still has after two years of Democrat-fueled inflation – is in large part due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
“Mr. President, we’re at an inflection point right now when it comes to tax policy and our economy.
“Key parts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are set to expire in the not-too-distant future.
“And certain provisions – provisions that helped boost American innovation and make it easier for small- and medium-sized businesses to thrive – have already expired.
“And there are two ways we could go.
“We can either maintain and build on Tax-Cuts-and-Jobs-Act policies designed to help businesses grow and expand opportunities for American workers.
“Or we can move in the direction the president is moving – dismantling pro-growth provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and making tax hikes the focus, with the intent not of growing the economy, but of growing the federal government.
“I, for one, believe we should be focusing on tax policies that help spur economic growth and allow Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money.
“And I intend to do everything I can to preserve the economic benefits of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by working with my colleagues to extend and make permanent its policies.
“Even the president has – grudgingly – agreed that the lower rates for individuals making under $400,000 should be continued.
“And I hope that he will work with members of Congress to make that happen in the very near future.
“But we need to extend not just the lower individual rates that Republicans implemented, but the other tax policies that helped American businesses grow, ensured more individuals can save for retirement, and provided new opportunities for Americans to invest in their future.
“American workers don’t just need reasonable tax rates; they also need a thriving economy – the kind of economy that produces good jobs with good wages and rewarding careers.
“That’s the kind of economy the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act helped create.
“And that’s the kind of economy we need to be fighting to create for the future.
“The massive tax hikes President Biden is proposing would tear down the tax structure the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created – and drag our economy, and American taxpayers, down with it.
“And I will do everything I can to prevent the president’s job-killing tax hikes from being implemented.
“We don’t need a pro-government tax code.
“We need a pro-growth, pro-opportunity, pro-taxpayer tax code.
“And for the sake of all the South Dakota families and businesses I am lucky enough to represent, and all the hardworking families and businesses across our great country, that’s the kind of tax code I will continue to fight for.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”