Ranking Member Hoyer Statement to House Rules Committee on the 2024 Financial Services and General Government Funding Bill

2023-11-06 16:15

Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD-05), Ranking Member of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the House Rules Committee in opposition to the fiscal year 2024 Financial Services and General Government bill:

- As Prepared For Delivery -

Mr. Chairman, let me reaffirm what I’ve said throughout this process and throughout my career: our debt poses a legitimate threat to the long-term success of the American economy and the American people.

Putting America on a fiscally sustainable path ought to be a goal for every Member of this body.

This bill does not accomplish that objective.

It represents pretense, not principle.

As you have said Mr. Chairman, it does not represent an honest attempt at real debt reduction.

Instead, this legislation severely impedes this government’s ability to reduce the deficit and to uphold the law of the land.

It defunds crucial agencies responsible for enforcing laws, regulations, and rules that protect and promote Americans’ wellbeing.

That includes the FTC, the SEC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Consumer Products Safety Commission, the Election Assistance Commission, and the FCC.

It dramatically cuts funding for the federal public defender program, which helps ensure every American can exercise their constitutional right to an attorney.

It defunds justice.

Other law enforcement agencies face severe cuts under this legislation.

That includes the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Office of Terrorism And Financial Intelligence, the Office Of National Drug Control Policy, and the Emergency Planning And Security Costs for the District Of Columbia – all defunding law enforcement.

Cutting their funding means undermining this crucial work to safeguard the American people.

Paring back enforcement has dire consequences for the deficit as well.

This bill’s deepest cuts affect the Internal Revenue Service – a continuation of Republicans’ decades-long campaign to undermine the agency’s enforcement efforts.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that our GDP was $2.63 trillion in 1979 compared to $23.315 trillion in 2021.

In that period, the number of annual tax returns increased from 140.1 million in 1979 to 269 million in 2021: a 92% increase.

And yet, IRS staffing went from 85,398 in 1979 to 78,661 in 2021: an 8% decrease.

The volume of work facing the IRS has grown dramatically.

The resources and personnel the IRS has to complete that work has been dramatically reduced.

That means phones go unanswered.

The backlog of taxpayer mail piles up.

Refunds get delayed.

Returns aren’t audited.

Owed taxes go uncollected.

Tax cheats are the winners.

And our deficit grows even bigger.

If you’re truly concerned with lowering the deficit, then you ought to be concerned with collecting what is owed.

The CBO’s conservative estimate is that on average, every dollar cut from the IRS costs at least $1.87 in lost revenue over the next decade.

That means the additional IRS cuts that Republicans made on Thursday, again breaking the agreement, would add $12.5 billion to the deficit.

So much for crocodile tears about the debt.

The only thing these rescissions offset is basic logic and arithmetic.

This issue isn’t about raising taxes on middle class workers – or anyone else.

The Majority Leader was mistaken when he said on Thursday that enforcement agents were raising taxes – they cannot do that, of course.

What they do is ensure that we each pay the share we legally owe.

They go after lawbreakers – particularly rich tax cheats and super wealthy corporations that make billions and pay no taxes.

This is about revenue, who we choose to collect it from, and who we choose to let off the hook.

Too often, Americans with a lot of wealth and with complex tax filings get out of paying what they owe by law.

I’m not talking about the vast majority of Americans whose taxes are withheld from their paychecks weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

I’m talking about the select few who use pass-throughs and shell companies to shield their vast wealth from taxation.

The average person, family, and small business pay more so the rich pay less – or not at all.

Research from Harvard University and the Treasury Department indicates that we generate $12 for every $1 of IRS enforcement to ensure the top ten percent of earners pay the taxes they owe.

Years of budget and staffing cuts, however, have led to a sharp decline in the number of audits the IRS is able to conduct on the wealthiest Americans.

The odds of a millionaire facing an audit in 2010 were roughly 9%.

Researchers at Syracuse University found that those odds were as low as 1.1% in fiscal year 2022.

That’s a reduction in oversight of 88% with predictable consequences.

The result is a back door tax cut, but only for those who have both the means and guile to exploit accounting tricks to hide profits, income, and – in the end – tax obligation.

I know many of you would count that as a success.

Unsurprisingly, this bill includes a 22.2% cut below the request for IRS enforcement of high-earners and corporations.

That’s a disservice to all Americans who dutifully pay their taxes.

We need to solve this problem, not magnify it.

This bill defunds those agencies of government that keep us safe.

The agencies that ensure the products we buy and the markets we invest in aren’t overrun with fraud and corruption.

The agencies that make those who are looking to get one over on the rest of us think twice and that hold those people accountable.

If Republicans truly want to be the party of fiscal responsibility, if they want to be the party of law enforcement, they need to shelve this bill – a bill they know will never become law.

Let’s stop the political grandstanding and start working together on legislation that can become law.

Thank you.

118th Congress