Today, the Senate passed legislation that could undermine America's future prosperity.
Congress can afford to give the American people a substantial and responsible tax cut. What Congress cannot afford to do is to turn its back on fiscal responsibility.
Unfortunately, that's what the Senate did today by passing a massive $1.35 trillion tax bill.
This massive tax bill is based on ten-year budget surplus projections that may not materialize. It benefits the wealthiest taxpayers far more than it helps working families. It will not allow us to pay down our national debt as quickly as possible. And its passage will prevent us from making critical investments in Social Security, Medicare, and education.
Most insidious, the cost of the tax explodes in the second ten years to nearly $4 trillion, just as the baby boomers are retiring, and are beginning to receive Social Security and Medicare.
The Democrats had a far better tax cut plan. I supported the Daschle amendment, which would have provided $900 billion in tax relief to the American people over the next ten years. It included tax cuts for low- and middle-income families. It provided sizable estate tax relief for family farms and businesses. It created new incentives to deal with our energy crisis. It eliminated the complex alternative minimum tax for families with incomes under $80,000. It gave married couples relief from the "marriage penalty."
Unfortunately, the Senate rejected this common sense and fiscally sound approach.
While I voted against the tax bill, there were some tax cuts in this bill that I strongly support. To its credit, the Senate improved the President's tax plan.
The bill is better for low-income Americans because it makes the child tax credit partially refundable for families with one or two children. Right now, it's only partially refundable for families with three or more children. The bill also eased the so-called "marriage penalty" that now exists in the earned income tax credit (EITC). As a result, some poor working families will receive a larger credit.
I am also pleased the bill creates a new 10 percent tax bracket. The new tax bracket will benefit all taxpayers who pay an income tax. If the final bill stays the same, the first $6,150 for individual taxpayers, and $12,300 for joint filers will be subject to a 10 percent income tax instead of the current 15 percent.
I'm also pleased the bill expands education incentives, provides significant estate tax relief over the next ten years, reduces the "marriage penalty," and strengthens incentives for retirement savings.
Congress has passed a fiscally irresponsible tax bill. In future legislation, we should refocus our efforts on the priorities of the American people: reducing the debt, ensuring the long-term solvency of Social Security and Medicare, and improving and funding education.