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Ron W.
Democrat OR

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  • Omnibus Tax Provisions

    by Senator Ron Wyden

    Posted on 2015-12-17

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    WYDEN. Mr. President, I wish to take a few minutes this afternoon to talk about the tax provisions in the agreement before us. I want to start by making sure that people understand what this is really all about. This is the biggest bipartisan package that provides real tax relief for working families in literally decades. It is the biggest anti-poverty program Congress has moved forward in decades. So being able to do all of this for working families and help millions of Americans find their way out of poverty is, in my view, something particularly important--the largest bipartisan tax agreement in 15 years.

    I want to spend a few minutes describing how this came together, why it is such an important piece of legislation, and what it means for the cause of tax reform.

    Hundreds of thousands of Oregonians and millions of families across the land count on the child tax credit and the earned-income tax credit to make ends meet. More than 100,000 Oregon students and millions of students nationwide count on the American opportunity tax credit to help them pay for college. These are concerns Senator Merkley and I heard directly from students at the roundtables we held recently at the University of Oregon and at Southern Oregon University. In my view, they are bedrock priorities for working families when it comes to taxes.

    Starting more than a year ago, all of my Democratic colleagues on the Finance Committee came together around the principle that when Congress took up the temporary tax cuts known as extenders, these vital individual tax incentives for working families would be our special priority. If our colleagues on the other side insisted on making certain business-related tax breaks permanent, we were going to make clear at every single opportunity that the tax cuts for working families and students would have to be made permanent as well.

    Back in 2009 when these working family tax cuts were actually expanded, there were some Members here in the Senate who said they would never allow them to become permanent. In effect, what they said is that [[Page S8775]] working families would get a little bit of relief back then in 2009 but that would be it for those working families. We said that is not good enough. We said that without the certainty of permanent extensions, too many families across this country would be thrown into the dark as the provisions expired over and over again.

    Advocates for those who walk an economic tightrope, balancing their food against their fuel and their fuel against their medical care--over 130 groups who advocate for those working families wrote a letter urging lawmakers to make the working family credits permanent. They said: Don't keep those families guessing about their taxes; give them certainty and assistance on a permanent basis. That is what this package does. There is a new measure of certainty and predictability when it comes to taxes. The last tax bill in America passed just over a year ago. It had a shelf life shorter than a carton of eggs. What we are doing with this bill is providing an alternative--an alternative with real certainty and predictability on a permanent basis.

    I see my colleague Senator Brown here. He has done yeoman's work in advocating for working families and their kids. I so appreciate his leadership.

    Suffice it to say that what we just heard from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is that 16 million Americans, including 8 million children, will be lifted from the depth of poverty or out of poverty altogether in 2018 and beyond because of this legislation.

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