Last week, thousands of Californians took to the streets to protest high taxes and irresponsible government spending. Californians — as well as Americans from other states — are deeply concerned about the crushing weight of debt the government is putting on our children and grandchildren. For those of you that attended and spoke out at your local tea party, I thank you and agree with you wholeheartedly. Californians are taxed too high and our state and federal governments are spending and borrowing too much.
Some have scoffed at the tea parties, but not me. I actually hope there are more in the future. These were real, living, breathing signs of a movement led by ordinary Americans who are declaring, "Enough!"
They have a lot to be concerned about. Recently, Congress passed President Obama's proposed budget for the next fiscal year, a massive $3.5 trillion spending plan. The federal government doesn't come close to collecting that amount of revenue — despite its best efforts — so it is faced with either borrowing the money from foreign countries or raising taxes on already struggling citizens. Even with record deficits of more than a trillion dollars, Democrats in Washington have decided to do both.
The president promised that he would not raise taxes "one single dime" on 95 percent of Americans. But, after just a few short months in office, it is clear this was more rhetoric than reality. Contained within the president's budget are tax increases that will hit every American and small business. At a time when our nation's economy is suffering, increasing taxes will do more harm than good.
To start with, President Obama proposes raising taxes on the "wealthy" but what that will really mean is tax increases on small businesses. According to information from the Internal Revenue Service, 60 percent of all small business income is earned by individuals who make at least $200,000 — exactly the level of income on which President Obama proposes massive tax hikes. Small businesses employ more than half the U.S. workforce. Increasing their taxes kills jobs and will only continue to slow economic growth.
It gets worse. The president's cap and trade energy plan, otherwise known as cap and tax, will only cause further job losses. Designed to limit carbon emissions, the plan will saddle the average household with more than $3,100 a year in added energy costs. President Obama even admitted that his energy plan will cause energy costs to "skyrocket" and those costs will be passed onto consumers.
Furthermore, a number of independent analyses for similar proposals suggest that anywhere between two million and five million jobs could be lost, affecting virtually every individual across our country.
The Democrats' budget also brings back to life the death tax. This is another part of the tax code that continues to harass families, in this case, families grieving over the loss of a loved one. And to add insult to injury, the President proposes taxing charitable contributions, undermining the generous giving of Americans and forcing greater dependence on the federal government.
And "we, the people" aren't taking it anymore. From Santa Clarita, to the Antelope Valley, to Victorville and up north in Bishop, my constituents are fed up. These tea parties are about fiercely opposing runaway federal spending that will either require higher taxes on this generation or higher taxes and a lower standard of living on our children and grandchildren. And make no mistake, higher taxes under these circumstances are inevitable.
It is time to work together to get our economy moving again. But we must do it in a way that puts our country on a path to prosperity and growth without higher taxes and increased deficits. That's why I oppose Proposition 1A and am working in Washington to offer better solutions.
Recently, I voted for another economic stimulus plan that would have created twice the jobs — 6 million — at half the cost to taxpayers. And I supported the fiscally-responsible Republican alternative to President Obama's budget. Our alternative highlighted what is uniquely American — entrepreneurship and self-reliance — without leaving an unsustainable debt to our children and grandchildren. And unlike the president's budget, it does not raise taxes on hardworking Americans, either through increased energy bills or higher income taxes.
No tax increases — this is what I have been saying in Washington for years and now the people are speaking, too. Millions of people across this country know we can't borrow and spend our way back to a thriving America.
I believe we will see more public expression and frustration about the unruly federal spending in Washington, D.C., and if that persists, I believe that real change is possible. So please pass the cream and sugar: Let the Tea Parties continue.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, a Republican, represents the 25th District of California, which includes the Barstow area, in the U.S. Congress. He is the leading Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee and a member of the House Armed Services Committee.