Carper Statement on Passage of Tax Cut Bill and Debt Limit Hike

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) today issued the following statement on the Senate’s passage of a $350 billion tax cut conference report and a bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling by nearly $1 trillion: I am disappointed that the Senate voted today to approve a new round of tax cuts and raise our nation’s debt ceiling by nearly $1 trillion without, in turn, trying to impose some fiscal discipline on Congress and the president. Both votes, I feel, will have serious repercussions in the future by further increasing the already staggering debt burden that our younger generations will be asked to shoulder. On the tax cut, the final package approved today is an improvement over the previous versions of the bill. For instance, the bill rightly accelerates marriage penalty relief and increases the child tax credit. The bill also includes nearly $20 billion in aid to states, many of which are hurting because of the economic slowdown. But I’m worried that the actual cost of the bill – estimated by Republicans to be only $350 billion – could balloon in future years. Even House Speaker Dennis Hastert admitted today that the true cost of the bill would be closer to $1 trillion. Tha’s because the bill is clouded by smoke and mirrors that mask its true costs. For instance, some of the cuts, such as an increase in the child tax credit, the expansion of the lower-income tax bracket, and a reduction in the double taxation of dividends, all revert back to current law in just a few years. Taxpayers and businesses need certainty in the tax code, not a mix of “now you see them, now you don’t tax cuts. Many of the ideas in the tax cut bill have merit. I, for one, believe that reducing the double taxation of dividends could prove beneficial to the economy over the long haul. But we shouldn’t be passing tax cuts or spending increases unless we’re willing to offset them through lower spending or tax increases elsewhere. During the debate on the debt limit increase, I joined Senator Russ Feingold in offering an amendment that would have helped force Congress to find a way to pay for spending increases and tax cuts. Such an approach would help preserve our fiscal integrity and keep our fiscal situation from deteriorating even more. Unfortunately, 52 of my friends in the Senate didn’t agree, at least not today. We are currently spending daily about $1 billion on interest alone on our national debt. Just last week, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that our nation’s deficit would top $300 billion this year, the largest ever on record. Private forecasters think the deficit could reach as high as $400 billion. This is simply not acceptable. As we move forward on future budget and tax policy, I will continue the fight for a return to fiscal discipline both in Congress and for the White House.