Levin Floor Statement in Opposition to Unpaid-for, Permanent Tax Bill

May 7, 2014

Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today made the following statement on the House floor in opposition to making permanent the unpaid-for R&D tax credit (H.R. 4438):

“This really is not about the R&D tax credit. I have favored, I continue to favor, Democrats are indeed in favor of tax incentives, and sometimes we’re criticized for that.

“But that’s not the issue here. It’s whether we make this permanent without paying for it. It’s fiscally irresponsible to do so, and it endangers key programs that matter for all Americans. And that’s why the veto message from the President.

“Why is it fiscally irresponsible? Unpaid for? Costing over 10 years, $156 billion? Part of a package that total would be $310 billion? And if you add the others referred to, the package could be $500 billion, more or less. A huge sum unpaid for.

“The $310 billion that’s represented by this package is more than one half of the projected deficit this year. So it's not only fiscally irresponsible, it's also hypocritical. It violates the Republican budget itself that requires extenders to be paid for if permanent with other revenue measures.

“Here's what the Chairman of the Budget Committee said last month, ‘Our debt has grown more than twice the size of our economy. You can't have a prosperous society with that kind of debt.’

“And Mr. Brady, who I guess will be speaking on this, said last month, ‘Americans have had it with Washington's fiscal irresponsibility and I don't blame them. While families across the nation continue to tighten their belts due to rising costs and shrinking paychecks, Washington continues to spend more than it takes.’

“And the Chairman of the Committee said in 2009, ‘The path to our economic recovery starts with fiscal responsibility in Washington.’

“And interestingly enough, the tax reform draft presented by the Chairman makes R&D and other extenders, some of them permanent, but without impacting the deficit. It’s revenue-neutral, it's paid for, and now you come here and not pay for it.

“And this doesn't even include other key extenders, like the new markets, like the work opportunity tax credit on veterans. Renewable energy.

“And it leaves in jeopardy some key provisions that expire in 2017. The EITC, 27 million people affected. The child tax credit, 24 million. The American opportunity tax credit, education, 12 million.

“The $310 billion is three times the amount spent on education, job training, and social services in a full year. Nondefense discretionary is now just about 3% of the GDP – as low as it's been in decades.

“So any permanent R&D has to be done comprehensively, not piecemeal and unpaid for it. To do it this way is fiscally irresponsible, I think it's hypocritical and it's programmatically dangerous.

“So I oppose this rule, and I hope everybody who is thinking of voting yes, including on the Republican side, will think back at what they have said before about the deficit. And I hope we Democrats will think, we're for R&D. It needs to be done comprehensively, not piecemeal, threatening so many of the programs that benefit so many Americans.”