For the first time since 1993, the United States Congress received a federal budget proposal from a new administration. In just the previous five budget cycles, we have gone from debating how to climb out of multi-billion dollar budget deficits, to this year’s debate, which focuses on an immediate $231 billion surplus, and a projected $5.6 trillion surplus over the next 10 years. That is undoubtedly a remarkable turn of events.
And while Congress must now decide what to do with all of these surplus dollars, many of my colleagues in the House seem to have forgotten where the surplus came from. That is unfortunate news, considering the current economic uncertainty we are experiencing. While most of the economic news tends to stream from Wall Street, it is our business owners right here at home, from the shoe repair shop downtown to the furniture store on the corner, who are the first to recognize when consumer pocketbooks are being pinched. Today, Nevadans are paying more at the gas pump, more on their utility bills at home, and more in federal taxes than our government needs to operate effectively and efficiently. It is no wonder that something has to give — and right now it is consumer confidence and consumer spending.
Our businesses in America, small and large, overwhelmingly support legislation to return tax dollars back to the hardworking taxpayers in this country. Small business owners in Nevada do not like the fact that they are struggling to make ends meet while Washington remains bloated and over-funded. Workers should not have to worry about the next round of layoffs at the workplace while our national treasury is richer than it has ever been. And parents should not have to dip into their retirement funds or their children’s education to pay the bills while many in Congress complain that our government isn’t spending enough. Unfortunately, however, that is what we are facing today. Something must be done in our nation’s capital, and whether it is looking out for the Nevada employer or the Nevada employee, it must begin by providing fair and meaningful tax relief.
Earlier this year, I joined my colleagues in supporting the president’s budget for fiscal year 2002. It is a budget that demonstrates restraint and fiscal responsibility, providing the necessary trigger to once again stimulate our stalled economy. Specifically, it will benefit the future of America in three ways. First, the president’s budget takes care of our national priorities by increasing education spending, military pay and our commitment to providing affordable prescription drugs for low-income
seniors. Second, it pays down the national debt for the fourth consecutive year. The president’s plan will pay down the entire debt by the year 2011, thus providing drastic interest rate cuts for American consumers. And most importantly, this budget allows taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money.
More Americans have personal debt today than at any other time in our history. The tax relief provided in this budget will allow individuals and families to pay off their personal debts, thus giving them the freedom to invest in their personal retirement accounts and their children’s education. For example, the median one-income family of four in Nevada currently earns $41,157 and pays $2,391 in federal income taxes. If the president’s tax relief package passes the Senate, as it did the House earlier in the year, this family and others like it will save $1,600 a year, equating to a 67 percent cut. Most Nevadans tell me that they trust themselves to spend their own money more than they do the federal government. I agree. And with average individuals being allowed to keep more of their money, they go from being simply taxpayers, to being consumers.
Nevada business owners also understand that tax relief will not only provide more cash for consumers, but it will allow businesses themselves to provide an increased workforce, better benefits, advanced technological investments and improved cash flow. That is why the president has proposed this budget, and why it gained strong, bipartisan support. It is my hope that this fall the president’s budget will be signed into law, thus meeting the needs of Nevada’s workers and business owners alike.