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June 15, 2011

Patching the AMT

[Page: S3761]  GPO's PDF 

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Mr. WYDEN. Madam President, just to wrap up, Senator Coats and I are going to come to the floor in the weeks ahead to outline some of the most outlandish examples of how broken our tax system is. We thought it was appropriate to start with the alternative minimum tax because it really is the poster child for how out of whack the American tax system has become. I think we have highlighted a number of our big concerns, but I want Senators to pick up on the last point Senator Coats made, and that is that the country cannot afford the status quo.

The idea that you would just go out and pass what is called a patch, a kind of bandaid to try to make sure some of the pain is minimized for middle-class folks--the most recent patch for just 2 years cost $135 billion. The 10-year cost to make the current patch permanent is $683 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. A patch does not protect everybody; it just limits the damage.

What we want to say as we start this debate about how to go forward with tax reform is that the Congress cannot continue to handle the AMT with a patch. The country cannot afford it. Patching the AMT costs way too much, especially given the discussions we are having here, bipartisan discussions about how to deal with the Federal debt.

The only affordable way to fix the alternative minimum tax, as Senator Coats has outlined this afternoon, is to fix it once and for all and do it within the context of comprehensive tax reform; to pick it up, as was done in the 1980s when a Republican President got together with Democratic Members of Congress and cleaned out special interest loopholes to hold down rates for everybody and give all Americans the opportunity to get ahead while still having a progressive tax system.

We would repeal the alternative minimum tax once and for all and do it in a way that does not add to the Federal deficit. This is not Senator Coats and I plucking a figure out of the sky. The Joint Committee on Taxation has analyzed our bill, and under their analysis, Senator Coats and I eliminate the alternative minimum tax without adding to the Federal deficit. In my view, that is a pretty good way to start tax reform, start it in a bipartisan way and particularly by focusing on something that is so inequitable to hard-working middle-class people.

I thank my good friend from Indiana. I am prepared to yield the floor if my colleague has anything else he wants to say. I want to express my appreciation for the chance to work with him. We cannot deal with these big economic issues, the big economic challenges our country faces without going forward in a bipartisan way. I am very fortunate to have such an able partner. I thank him.

Mr. COATS. I thank the Senator.

(Senate - June 14, 2011)

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