Paul Ryan on Tax Reform
Republican nominee for Vice President; U.S. Rep. (WI-1)
RYAN: That's right.
Q: What do you specifically require?
RYAN: Our goal is to get cuts and reforms that put us on a path to balancing the budget within a decade. But literally the Senate hasn't budgeted in four years. We need to have a kind of debate in this country about how we're going to make these choices
Q: A lot of the Democrats and even the White House say they're willing to do tax reform where there could be additional revenue. Are you saying that you're opposed to any additional revenue that could come from tax reform?
RYAN: Are we for more revenues? No, we're not.
Q: Even if it comes from tax reform?
RYAN: If you keep raising revenues, you're not going to get decent tax reform. If you keep chasing higher spending with higher revenues, as they're calling for, you're going to actually hurt economic growth. You'll never catch up.
BIDEN: Not mathematically possible.
RYAN: It is mathematically possible. It's been done before. It's precisely what we're proposing. It's been done a couple of times, actually. Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth. Ronald Reagan, Republicans & Democrats have worked together on this.
THE FACTS: The top marginal tax rate in 1962 was 91% and JFK proposed lowering the top rate to 65% (compared to a top rate of 37% today). Yes, JFK did cut tax rates by more than 20%. But in the context of the much higher rates in 1962, cutting tax rates meant something very different than today--Ryan hence cannot realistically apply the lessons from JFK to today. No politician of any party today would even consider RAISING tax rates to the LOWER levels proposed by JFK in 1962!
BIDEN: The middle class will pay less, and people making a million dollars or more will begin to contribute slightly more. We want to extend permanently the Bush middle-class tax cut. These guys won't allow us to. They're holding hostage the middle-class tax cut to the super wealthy.
RYAN: Our entire premise of these tax reform plans is to grow the economy and create jobs. It's a plan that's estimated to create 7 million jobs. Now, we think that government taking 28% of a family and business' income is enough. President Obama thinks that the government ought to be able to take as much as 44.8% of a small business' income. Look, if you taxed every person in successful small business making over $250,000 at a hundred percent, it'd only run the government for 98 days. There aren't enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending.
RYAN: Different than this administration, we actually want to have big bipartisan agreements.
Q: Do you have the specifics? Do you have the math?
RYAN: Look at what Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did. They worked together out of a framework to lower tax rates and broaden the base, and they worked together to fix that. What we're saying is here's our framework: Lower tax rates 20%--we raise about $1.2 trillion through income taxes. We forgo about $1.1 trillion in loopholes and deductions. And so what we're saying is deny those loopholes and deductions to higher- income taxpayers so that more of their income is taxed, which has a broader base of taxation, so we can lower tax rates across the board.
BIDEN: I was there when Ronald Reagan tax breaks; he gave specifics of what he was going to cut.
I have advanced reforms to a tax code that is too complicated, too burdensome and puts American-made products at a competitive disadvantage to foreign competitors. For individuals, I have proposed a flatter, simpler system for taxpayers to pay their income taxes. You would be able to choose to pay your taxes using the current code--with all of its deductions, credits, and so on--or under the simplified tax option with just two low rates and with a tax form that would fit on a postcard. I believe that we should not double and triple-tax Americans--have sought to eliminate the death tax, the Alternative Minimum Tax, along with taxes on savings.
Under the extended-baseline scenario [the CBO estimate prior to the Ryan plan], revenues would rise from 21% of GDP in 2022 to 26% in 2050. The increase over that period is primarily due to the interaction of the tax system with inflation and real growth in income (which would produce higher taxes as a share of income). Under the revenue path specified by Chairman Ryan's staff, revenues would be about 18.5% of GDP in 2022 and would reach 19% in 2028 and remain at that share of GDP in future years.
The new, simplified tax code eliminates nearly all existing tax deductions and exclusions, but it allows generous standard deductions and personal exemptions. Individuals receive a $12,500 deduction. Personal exemptions allow $3,500 for each family member. Tax return could be done on a post card.
The Road Map plan would not require major changes in the current income tax system now collected by employers. People who don't like the simplified tax alternative could stay with the current tax system. This gives people a choice, and the total tax revenue to the government would be the same. Who could complain about that?
The AMT sets a minimum tax rate of 26% or 28% on some taxpayers so that they cannot use certain types of deductions to lower their tax. By contrast, the rate for a corporation is 20%. Affected taxpayers are those who have what are known as "tax preference items". These include long-term capital gains, accelerated depreciation, & percentage depletion.
Because the AMT is not indexed to inflation, an increasing number of upper-middle-income taxpayers have been finding themselves subject to this tax. In 2006, an IRS report highlighted the AMT as the single most serious problem with the tax code.
For 2007, the AMT Exemption was not fully phased until [income reaches] $415,000 for joint returns. Within the $150,000 to $415,000 range, AMT liability typically increases as income increases above $150,000.
OnTheIssues.org Explanation: This vote extends the AMT exemption, and hence avoids the AMT affecting more upper-middle-income people. This vote has no permanent effect on the AMT, although voting YES implies that one would support the same permanent AMT change.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Rep. RANGEL: We have the opportunity to provide relief to upward of some 25 million people from being hit by a $50 billion tax increase, which it was never thought could happen to these people. Almost apart from this, we have an opportunity to close a very unfair tax provision, that certainly no one has come to me to defend, which prevents a handful of people from having unlimited funds being shipped overseas under deferred compensation and escaping liability. Nobody, liberal or conservative, believes that these AMT taxpayers should be hit by a tax that we didn't intend. But also, no one has the guts to defend the offshore deferred compensation. So what is the problem?
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Rep. McCRERY: This is a bill that would patch the AMT, and then increase other taxes for the patch costs. Republicans are for patching the AMT. Where we differ is over the question of whether we need to pay for the patch by raising other taxes. The President's budget includes a 1-year patch on the AMT without a pay-for. That is what the Senate passed by a rather large vote very recently, 88-5. The President has said he won't sign the bill that is before us today. Republicans have argued against applying PAYGO to the AMT patch. In many ways PAYGO has shown itself to be a farce.
The bill would allow more individuals to receive immediate $300 refunds, and lower the capital gains tax rate from 20% to 18%.
Title: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to phaseout the estate and gift taxes over a 10-year period.
Every year National Taxpayers Union (NTU) rates U.S. Representatives and Senators on their actual votes—every vote that significantly affects taxes, spending, debt, and regulatory burdens on consumers and taxpayers. NTU assigned weights to the votes, reflecting the importance of each vote’s effect. NTU has no partisan axe to grind. All Members of Congress are treated the same regardless of political affiliation. Our only constituency is the overburdened American taxpayer. Grades are given impartially, based on the Taxpayer Score. The Taxpayer Score measures the strength of support for reducing spending and regulation and opposing higher taxes. In general, a higher score is better because it means a Member of Congress voted to lessen or limit the burden on taxpayers. The Taxpayer Score can range between zero and 100. We do not expect anyone to score a 100, nor has any legislator ever scored a perfect 100 in the multi-year history of the comprehensive NTU scoring system. A high score does not mean that the Member of Congress was opposed to all spending or all programs. High-scoring Members have indicated that they would vote for many programs if the amount of spending were lower. A Member who wants to increase spending on some programs can achieve a high score if he or she votes for offsetting cuts in other programs. A zero score would indicate that the Member of Congress approved every spending proposal and opposed every pro-taxpayer reform.
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 CTJ scores as follows:
Citizens for Tax Justice, founded in 1979, is not-for-profit public interest research and advocacy organization focusing on federal, state and local tax policies and their impact upon our nation. CTJ's mission is to give ordinary people a greater voice in the development of tax laws. Against the armies of special interest lobbyists for corporations and the wealthy, CTJ fights for:
Politicians often run for office saying they won't raise taxes, but then quickly turn their backs on the taxpayer. The idea of the Pledge is simple enough: Make them put their no-new-taxes rhetoric in writing.
In the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, candidates and incumbents solemnly bind themselves to oppose any and all tax increases. While ATR has the role of promoting and monitoring the Pledge, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is actually made to a candidate's constituents, who are entitled to know where candidates stand before sending them to the capitol. Since the Pledge is a prerequisite for many voters, it is considered binding as long as an individual holds the office for which he or she signed the Pledge.
Since its rollout with the endorsement of President Reagan in 1986, the pledge has become de rigeur for Republicans seeking office, and is a necessity for Democrats running in Republican districts.
The Committee of Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives. Members of the Ways and Means Committee cannot serve on any other House Committees, though they can apply for a waiver from their party's congressional leadership. The Committee has jurisdiction over all taxation, tariffs and other revenue-raising measures, as well as a number of other programs including:
[The ATR, Americans for Tax Reform, run by conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist, ask legislators to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in each election cycle. Their self-description:]
In the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, candidates and incumbents solemnly bind themselves to oppose any and all tax increases. Since its rollout in 1986, the pledge has become de rigeur for Republicans seeking office, and is a necessity for Democrats running in Republican districts. Today the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is offered to every candidate for state office and to all incumbents. More than 1,100 state officeholders, from state representative to governor, have signed the Pledge.
The Taxpayer Protection Pledge: "I pledge to the taxpayers of my district and to the American people that I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."
Opponents' Opinion (from wikipedia.com):In Nov. 2011, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) claimed that Congressional Republicans "are being led like puppets by Grover Norquist. They're giving speeches that we should compromise on our deficit, but never do they compromise on Grover Norquist. He is their leader." Since Norquist's pledge binds signatories to opposing deficit reduction agreements that include any element of increased tax revenue, some Republican deficit hawks now retired from office have stated that Norquist has become an obstacle to deficit reduction. Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, has been particularly critical, describing Norquist's position as "no taxes, under any situation, even if your country goes to hell."
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