WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) released the following statement after voting for the Middle Class Tax Relief Act. The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 81 to 19:
"This is not the tax package I had hoped for. Like a lot of Americans, I am disappointed in where we are and how we got here.
"Earlier this month, the Senate voted on the package that I preferred. It would have permanently cut taxes for every American family. This legislation, which I cosponsored, would have ensured that the biggest tax breaks go to middle-class couples who earn up to $250,000 a year and individuals who earn up to $200,000, nearly 97 percent of Delawareans. It was more fair. It promoted economic growth. It addressed the need for certainty and predictability that businesses and families need. And it was far more fiscally responsible. While it garnered the support of a majority of the House and Senate, no Senate Republicans voted for it, and it was defeated.
"Faced with that reality, the President chose to work with Republicans to hammer out a deal to keep federal income tax rates from going up for most Americans on Jan. 1, while also finding ways to create jobs and help people who can't find a job in this difficult economy.
"While I have decided to vote for this bill, it is not with enthusiasm. When political parties are compelled to find common ground, rarely does either side get all that it wants. The likelihood of our reaching an agreement next year that's more to my liking - and the liking of most of the agreement's critics - is slim to none. It's not likely to get any better or any easier. In fact it could get a lot worse and undermine the modest recovery that is now underway. Without this agreement, tax rates would go up for just about everyone and it is difficult to see how unemployment insurance benefits would be extended given our new political reality. I'm not prepared to let that happen.
"While this agreement is far from perfect, a great many economists believe that it will increase predictability and certainty for businesses and families. In doing so, this package is expected to accelerate economic growth and push down unemployment rates. There are also a number of other positive provisions in the compromise that will be helpful to Delaware's families and businesses. One provision that is particularly helpful for middle class families is the 2 percent cut in the payroll tax in 2011 which will immediately put more money in workers' pockets. In addition, businesses will be able to take advantage of a new tax incentive that allows them to immediately write-off – or expense – the purchase of new equipment and other capital expenditures. This provision will encourage businesses to make new investments in plants and machinery – typically purchased from other businesses – that will in turn spur more businesses to ramp up production and, ultimately, help create jobs. By implementing these and other critically-needed provisions, this package is expected to accelerate GDP growth and, most importantly, reduce unemployment.
"Also of critical importance to Delaware is the extension of certain tax credits and grants for renewable energy projects. Over the last two years, these programs have already provided Delaware with over $1.5 million for renewable energy projects like Bluewater Wind. Nationally, this program is credited with creating 20,000 jobs in the solar industry alone. The bill also extends a measure in the Recovery Act that puts transit benefits on par with those offered to drivers for parking costs, aiding some 2800 Delawareans with their public transit costs.
"Having said that, the worse thing we can do is to wait another two years to begin to figure out what to do when many of the provisions in this agreement expire. Almost none of the provisions in this agreement is paid for. Collectively, they drive up our nation's debt by close to $900 billion over 10 years. I have urged the Administration to turn its attention quickly to addressing the structural deficit which we face. The Deficit Reduction Commission co-chaired by Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) has given us a roadmap – which while not perfect – that can serve as the starting point in enabling us to decide how to start reining in these enormous deficits as the economic recovery takes wing."