By Kelly Young
U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Tx-5) visited Cherokee County Tuesday to outline his American Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Hensarling’s bill of rights includes four fundamental rights that he believes each American taxpayer should have.
“As we approach April 15, I can’t think of a better time then now to talk about a taxpayer’s bill of rights. I think it is a very important matter for this generation, but it is even more important for the next generation,” Hensarling said.
According to Hensarling, just before its Easter recess, Congress passed its annual budget.
“Should that budget become law, it would include the single largest tax increase in American history. Over about a five-year period, taxes would be raised roughly $392 billion,” he said. “The working poor would have their taxes increase 50-percent, as they would go from the 10-percent-bracket to the 15-percent-bracket. So many of our seniors, who rely upon capital gains and dividends for part of their retirement, would see those taxes increase significantly.”
Hensarling’s first taxpayer’s right would greatly curtail government spending.
“We believe that taxpayers ought to have the right to have a federal government that does not grow beyond our ability to pay for it,” he said.
In the past 50 years, the federal government has grown nearly five times faster than the median family income. Hensarling said such a growth rate is ultimately unsustainable without negative repercussions for future generations.
“To bring fiscal sanity to this country, you do not have to cut a dime out of the federal budget, but you do have to moderate its growth,” Hensarling said.
Hensarling believes Congress should be forced to reevaluate the federal government’s 10,000 programs and drastically cut the ineffective, duplicative and unconstitutional ones.
“Conservatives also believe that taxpayers have a right to receive back every dollar they entrust to the government for their retirement. Both Republican and Democratic Congresses are equally guilty of raiding the Social Security trust fund for other purposes,” Hensarling said. “We believe it is a fundamental right that when you pay Social Security taxes, that money ought to be used for Social Security.”
A balanced budget, without raising taxes, is Hensarling’s third taxpayer right.
“I can balance the budget quite easily by raising your taxes, but it’s a more challenging feat to do it by reforming programs and making the tough decisions that I believe members of Congress ought to do,” Hensarling said. “A balance budget would not be a panacea, not a cure-all, but we ought to introduce a constitutional amendment that would balance the budget without raising your taxes.”
Hensarling’s final right would result in the abolition of the current tax code.
“We believe taxpayers ought to have the right to a fair and simple tax code that they can understand. As you know, we just celebrated Easter — the current tax code is about eight times longer than the Bible. It takes the Lord about 15-percent of the words to tell you how to live your life than it does for Uncle Sam to tell you how to send him money,” he said.
According to Hensarling, America’s tax code is so convoluted that even he, a former lawyer, doesn’t do his own taxes.
“I don’t do my own taxes, I can’t figure it out. I don’t feel secure in doing my own taxes,” Hensarling said. “If I can’t do it, as a guy who actually studied this in school, I’m not sure how everybody else is supposed to do their own taxes.”
Hensarling said the challenges involved in curbing out-of-control government spending, saving social security, balancing the budget and simplifying the tax code are daunting but possible.
“I believe if we can get the nation to focus on these challenges and enact a taxpayer bill of rights, we will be able to leave a far better nation for the next generation of Americans,” he said. "This is a pledge to work to balance the budget, cut wasteful Washington spending and provide further, permanent tax relief. I hope that families across Cherokee County will rally around this grassroots effort, tell their friends and families about the American Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and urge them to support the American Taxpayer Bill of Rights.”