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April 21, 2013

FLASHPOINT: Fiscal cliff, Obamacare have already raised taxes enough

Our history is rich with stories of people who have immigrated to the United States for a chance at the American Dream. The American Dream, in its truest form, is the opportunity to achieve success by working hard and playing by the rules; to make it on your own and to say, “I earned this.”

Yet, the federal government continues to make this dream a distant reality. This week we all experienced an important and equally frustrating deadline — tax day. It serves as an annual reminder that playing by the rules is becoming more difficult, and more expensive.

With 70,000 pages and over four million words, the United States tax code has become increasingly more complicated and ambiguous.

In fact, it has been changed over 4,500 times in the past 10 years, yet it has not seen a comprehensive overhaul or review in over a quarter of a century.  In 2010 alone, Americans spent $168 billion to navigate the confusing process by hiring tax professionals or using software. This is money that could have been used to start a business, send a child to college or invest for a safe retirement.

The system is not just complex, but it demands ever greater contributions from fewer and fewer citizens.

Many in Washington, D.C., believe that hardworking Hoosiers should be required to give more of their paychecks to foot the federal government’s massive spending tab. I disagree. The American people have already endured enough tax increases with the fiscal cliff deal and the Affordable Care Act. In actual fact, the federal government will take in more revenue this year than any time in history.

At a time when many people feel that they are not getting value for our tax dollar, we should ask less from the federal government, not more from hardworking Americans.

The House-passed budget takes an honest approach to comprehensive, responsible tax reform. We believe that the tax code should empower Hoosier families and ensure that our nation’s job creators are competitive abroad, not increase an unnecessary burden on them.

Currently, our corporate tax rate is the highest in the world. We need to lower rates and close unfair tax loopholes so that U.S. companies are more globally competitive. With nearly 95 percent of the world’s consumers located outside our borders, tax policy should encourage the movement of American products overseas, not American jobs.  

As a free-market economy, we can no longer be in the business of picking winners and losers.  

At a time when unemployment is stagnating around 8 percent, we also cannot afford to stifle innovation and growth in our nation’s most advancing sectors.  

Among its many new taxes on families and small businesses, Obamacare levies a 2.3-percent excise tax on the medical device industry.

This job-killing tax has already caused companies here in Indiana, like Cook Medical Group, to put on hold plans to expand its operation and create new jobs. I have co-sponsored legislation that would immediately repeal this tax, and our budget in the House repeals Obamacare entirely. We cannot continue putting our nation’s job creators at a disadvantage to pay for the expansion of government bureaucracy.

I grew up in a small, Midwest town of 1,400 people. I understand that small businesses, many of which are family owned, are the backbone of our economy and the means by which many people realize the American dream.

In fact, small businesses have generated more than 65 percent of the net new jobs over the past 17 years.  

We need tax reform that does not punish but helps small businesses grow and compete as much as it does larger corporations.

Businesses, small and large, create the much-needed jobs that give Hoosiers the opportunity to sustain their families. Although the tax code is complicated and broken, we can make it fairer for Hoosier families and businesses so that we can ignite a more prosperous economy.

I stand willing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to seek comprehensive reform of the entire tax code to make it simpler, fairer and lower. Eliminating loopholes and rewarding innovation will broaden the tax base, level the playing field and ensure every citizen has an opportunity at the American Dream.

Rep. Larry Bucshon is serving his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a former cardiovascular surgeon in Evansville and a resident of Newburgh.

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