Friday, April 18, 2008

Boehner Column: "Fuel Prices Rising, Taxes Hikes Threatened . No Relief in Sight From Wasteful Washington Spenders"

It’s possible that by the time you read this column, the federal government will have already cashed the check you wrote for your 2007 taxes. And if you think that was bad, wait until you see how big a check you may write very soon if Congress passes all the tax hikes it’s threatening.

Three times in one recent week, the Democratic-led U.S. House refused to side with taxpayers, instead choosing to continue their tax-and-spend ways. Using a proposal introduced by my colleague, Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan , House Republicans forced three votes on the House Floor to try to stop the largest tax hike in American history. Rep. Walberg’s bill, the Tax Increase Prevention Act, would stop the $683 billion tax increase passed by Democrats in March as part of their Fiscal Year 2009 budget proposal.

Stopping this massive tax hike will help every American taxpayer, including low- and middle-class families, working parents with children and seniors. With record-high gas prices, rising food costs and declining home values, the last thing we need and the last thing our economy needs is a tax increase.

The tax relief enacted previously by House Republicans led to a robust economy, low unemployment and increased savings for working families. But the Democrats’ budget proposal assumed that this tax relief will expire, sending tax rates soaring: personal income taxes will go up, the child tax credit will be slashed in half, the marriage penalty will be re-introduced, the death tax resurrected, taxes on dividends and investments will go up, and even seniors will see their retirement savings taxed at higher rates.

One of the hardest things for middle-class families right now is they can’t seem to catch a break. In today’s economy, it’s getting harder and harder to save, especially with every spare dollar seeming to go to rising fuel costs. And another week has gone by without hearing from Democrats what their plan is to lower gas prices, as they promised two years ago. Instead, gas prices have hit a nationwide average of $3.44 per gallon, according to AAA. Experts are predicting that prices will spike even higher in May, and the summer driving season isn’t even upon us yet.

The harsh reality is that since January 2007, gas prices have increased so much that motorists are paying $1.11 more per gallon to fill up than they were before the beginning of last year. The Associated Press recently reported that fuel costs “appear poised to resume their seemingly endless trek toward a record high milestone of an average $3.50 a gallon. Forecasters call for gas to peak as high as $3.65 within a month.”

Our working families deserve better than this.

We are too dependent on foreign oil. We must increase domestic production by building more refineries and opening up areas of the country to exploration in an environmentally-safe and responsible manner. At the same time, we must commit ourselves to develop long-term energy alternatives. The benefits of expanding our energy portfolio are not just in reducing prices and reducing our dependency on foreign oil but increasing opportunities for new family-wage jobs and growing American industries.

We need to advance commonsense, comprehensive energy solutions that increase American supplies in all forms. Instead, we’re stuck with bad ideas like a 55-cent increase in the federal gas tax and raising other taxes to pay for wasteful Washington spending while middle-class families struggle to make ends meet. It’s time to put aside political maneuvering and work together to bring relief to working families tired of Washington double-speak and empty rhetoric.

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