Opinion Pieces

Congressman Mike Conaway: Americans don't need another tax burden

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Washington, November 29, 2010 | Anna Harris (202.225.3605) | comments

Midland Reporter-Telegram

Calvin Coolidge once said, "Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery." Although problems abound in our current tax code, the revenue generated by it is not one of them. The last major reform of America's tax code was under President Reagan in 1986. Following his reforms, the percentage of income tax collected, as a share of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), was fairly stable around 8 percent from 1987-1995. But through the last half of the 1990s, that number rose steadily, climbing to 10.2 percent by 2000.

In both 2001 and 2003, Congress enacted meaningful reductions in the personal income tax that reduced the amount of taxes paid by Americans to an average of 7.7 percent of GDP from 2002 to 2008. Every American benefited from these tax cuts and if Congress allows them to expire at the end of this year, millions of Americans will be robbed of their hard-earned money.

Our economy cannot get back up and running if there is uncertainty in the our financial future of our country. We cannot expect people to invest in our economy and markets if the federal government continues to tax everything in its path. In this struggling economy, a tax increase is the last burden Americans need to shoulder.

There are a few misconceptions about these tax relief programs. Many people believe they only benefit those in upper-income categories. This increase would affect Americans at every income level. Higher taxes will discourage economic growth, reduce investor confidence and create a decline in jobs, wages and opportunities. It would be over against the clear wishes of Americans to take economic growth opportunities away from the people who are experiencing financial hardship. It is preposterous that people are forced to live within their earnings so they can afford to pay taxes to a government who that can't live within its own means.

It is important to me, as a member of Congress, to constantly look for ways to lessen the burdens of our ever-growing government on Americans, especially during these hard economic times. Extending the current tax rates will give small businesses the confidence and security they need to hire create jobs, invest and get our economy back up and running. A tax increase, on the other hand, would only close doors of small businesses and reduce income for households across America.

Unfortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic majority failed to address or debate this issue before leaving to campaign for the November midterm elections. With current unemployment rates around 10 percent and the economic recovery slowing down, waiting even a day longer to discuss this large pending tax increase is irresponsible and sends a negative message to families, small businesses and investors. President Obama, along with most of my Democrat colleagues in Congress, want to extend only lower rates for individuals (including small businesses) earning less than $200,000 or for couples making less than $250,000. Republicans support extending the tax breaks for all taxpayers in all income brackets.

It is my promise to the constituents of District 11 that I will do everything in my power to stop the looming, massive tax hike on American families and individuals. Republicans made a pledge to America to permanently end the tax increases scheduled to be implemented on Jan. 1, and that is exactly what we intend to do.

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