Portman Delivers Remarks on New Senate Tax Bill, Says it Will Help Middle Class, Create Jobs, & Boost Wages
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) delivered remarks on the Senate floor in support of the new Senate tax bill, saying that it will help create more jobs and better jobs, increase wages, and boost the middle class. A summary of the plan can be found here.
Transcript of the remarks can be found below and a video can be found here.
“Mr. President, I really enjoyed listening to my colleague from Pennsylvania talk about this new tax reform plan that’s just been unveiled by the Finance Committee here. He’s right. This is really exciting because it’s an opportunity after a lot of talk over a lot of years to finally fix our tax code. And it is broken. And it’s broken in a lot of different respects, but one that he pointed out so well is the fact that we actually have jobs and investment going overseas because of our tax code. It’s a responsibility of the people who are in this body and in the House and the presidency to actually fix that. No one else can do it. Workers in America, including my home state of Ohio are competing with one hand tied behind their back because we have a tax code that encourages other companies from foreign countries to come in and buy our companies, to take our business, to take our market share, to make it harder for U.S. workers to be able to compete and win.
“So I think it’s way past time, frankly, for us to fix that. People say, well, we haven’t reformed the tax code in 31 years and it’s about time. I agree with that. But if you go back to the international part of our tax code that creates a lot of these problems, you’ve got to go back to John F. Kennedy who last reformed it. That means that part of our tax code should qualify for AARP benefits. That’s how old it is. It’s time for us to fix this. It’s really exciting that we finally have that opportunity.
“There are three parts of this tax form proposal, all three of which are really important. The first is a tax cut for the middle class. Why is that important? Because right now even with the economy that’s starting to grow a little bit, what’s happening? Well, wages are flat. So expenses are up across the board. The biggest expense, by the way, Mr. President, one you’ve been involved with, is health care. People are seeing their health care costs go up, their premiums, their deductibles, their copays, and yet their wages aren’t going up. That creates a middle-class squeeze. But it’s more than health care. It is food. It is everyday purchases. It is tuition if you’re trying to send your kid to school. Those have skyrocketed. Let’s do something to actually give the family budget a little help. That’s the middle-class tax cuts that are in this proposal.
“You probably saw today that the middle-class tax cut alone provides on average $1,483 for every family. That’s a median family income family. Someone in the hall asked me, gosh, one of the reporters here, ‘$1,500 a family, why does that matter?’ I said ‘it matters a lot if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Maybe you’re not but a lot of people are who I represent.’ That $1,500 is something that will help them to be able to make ends meet and maybe begin to save a little bit for a vacation, or for retirement or for the ability to make that car payment. I think this is really important.
“I would say, though, beyond just that important middle-class tax cut, there’s something else that ought to be considered, which is if we do this right, the way this has been laid out by the Finance Committee, what’s going to happen is we’re going to help to create more jobs and higher wages. My colleague from Pennsylvania talked about this. With a relatively tight labor market as you have more investment into these businesses, what’s going to happen? Everyone says you’re going to see wages go up. So the Congressional Budget Office, which is a nonpartisan group here, and the Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan group here, have looked at all this and said, yeah, there’s going to be a benefit to workers if we do these business tax cuts to be able to get the business rate down below the average of the other industrialized countries. Rather than being the highest business rate in the entire industrialized world which it is now, because that’s going to attract more jobs and investment here and we’ll stop losing jobs and investment.
“There’s some economists who have looked at this, too. They agree. This is going to benefit workers. In fact, there’s a couple of economic studies out there that show that families will get an additional $4,000 on average per family. Again, we’re talking about middle-class families here from the benefits that are going to come from more investment, more jobs and higher earnings that are going to happen in the business world. It’s not just about the middle-class tax cuts, as important as they are. That’s tax relief going right to the bottom line. You’ll be able to figure it out. Go online. Use the tax calculator. Figure out what it means for you. But also remember, these other reforms in an outdated tax code that is just crying out for improvement and reform are going to result in additional benefits flowing to you and your family as well if we do this right. And we have to do it right.
“There’s a study that came out recently. It was from a firm called Ernst & Young. It looked at what’s happened in America over the past decade or so. They said in the last 13 years, there are 4,700 American companies that have become foreign companies because of our tax code that would still be American companies today if we put in place the kind of tax reform we’re talking about, 20 percent rate, below the average of the other industrialized countries and this international system that allows you to be more competitive. 4,700 companies. Think about that. There’s other data out there that says twice as many foreigners are buying U.S. companies than U.S. companies buying foreign companies. Why? Because of our tax code. It’s just true. I mean, this is something that’s been happening in this country not just the last couple of years but really the last couple of decades. It’s time for us to catch up. America needs to get back into a leadership position. If we do that, we’re going to see more jobs and more investment coming here to this country rather than going overseas.
“Finally, the third thing this does that is so important is it levels the playing field internationally. Right now we have between $2.5 trillion and $3 trillion of earnings, money from American companies, that is trapped overseas. Those companies aren’t bringing it back. Why? Because of our tax code. So this tax reform proposal actually says to those companies, we want that money back here. We want you to invest in America. We want you to create jobs here, expand plants and equipment. Bring your intellectual property, your patents back here. And then send that export out from America. That will create jobs here, including good jobs in research and development. That’s what this proposal does as well. It levels that playing field internationally to tell the foreign companies and the foreign nations that are taking advantage of our current tax code, you know what? That’s not going to happen anymore. That’s done. We now are going to have a competitive tax code where we’re encouraging money to come here to this country and that money coming back here invested in this country will also raise the economic condition for the entire country, economic growth will go up. Again, that filters down to all of us, including every family that I represent.
“So that’s why I’m excited about this. I think it’s overdue. I wish we could have done this earlier. You know, not just last year but 10 years ago or 20 years ago. Orrin Hatch is in the hall tonight. Senator Hatch has been talking about this for a few decades. And he’s been saying we’ve got to fix this thing. He’s now Chairman of the Finance Committee. He can do it. Senator McConnell will speak about this in a minute. He’s been talking about this for a long time. We’ve had commissions on it; we’ve had working groups on it; we’ve had bipartisan working groups, five of them. Those five working groups looked at this issue. I co-chaired one of those working groups. It was on the international side. Guess what? On a bipartisan basis, we said we’ve got to have this lower tax rate. We’ve got to go to this more competitive international system. You know who the co-chair of that working group was? One Republican, one Democrat in all those working groups? It was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York who is now the Democratic Leader.
“So this has not been a partisan issue in the past, on the international side at least. Let’s figure out how we can come together and get Republican and Democratic support to be able to tell the workers of America you’re no longer going to have to compete with one hand tied-hand your back. We’re going to give you the tools to be able to be successful for you and your families so you can achieve your American dream. Mr. President, I’m excited about this. Let’s move forward. I look forward to the Finance Committee next week and bringing it to the floor, and I hope we can have support on both sides of the aisle to get this done.”