This week, millions of hardworking Americans have shuffled through endless forms and red tape to file their taxes. This process can be about as fun as smashing your finger with a hammer.
To show their pain, many Americans will protest high taxes and record spending at Tax Day Tea Parties - 21st century versions of the Boston Tea Party. Tonight, I will join Augusta-area residents at one of the Tea Parties at Augusta's Jessye Norman Amphitheater.
These gatherings serve as startling reminders of just how much of our hard-earned money the government takes out of our paychecks. It was just two days ago that the American people celebrated Tax Freedom Day - a day when families finally put in enough work hours to cover the tax bill for this year.
Unfortunately, the amount of time the American people have to work to pay their tax bill will only continue to increase because of recent policies pushed by President Barack Obama and liberal congressional leaders. In fact, families in Georgia should start watching their wallets now considering that the recently passed energy tax will cost each family $3,128 more each year. This tax will affect every family and every small business. It certainly makes you wonder what happened to the president's promise that he would not raise taxes "one single dime" on 95 percent of Americans.
The federal government was not established to tax and spend; it was established to protect freedom and liberty. Yet some lawmakers in Washington try to solve our nation's economic woes through an outdated and failed philosophy of more taxes, more spending, more borrowing, and an overall belief that more government is the solution. How many times will we hit ourselves in the thumb with an economic hammer before we realize that this is not the way to approach our problems?
As elected officials, we have an obligation to be good stewards of the people's money and a responsibility to ease the financial burden of government. In these tough economic times, good stewards would return money to your pockets instead of siphoning more out.
It's high time that liberal leaders in Congress start acting on behalf of hardworking taxpayers instead of making our lives more difficult and expensive. Sen. Everett Dirksen famously said, "When I feel the heat, I see the light." The Tax Day Tea Parties being held across the nation today are perfect opportunities to turn up the heat.
We must demand a simpler and fairer tax code. In 1930, the U.S. Tax Code was a brisk 500 pages long. Today it has swollen to more than 45,000 pages, full of provisions that are confusing and are too expansive to understand. I support the FairTax and other straightforward alternatives that allow American families to keep more of the money they work for and effectively halt the federal government from squandering these dollars before families even see them. The bottom line is that if 10 percent is good enough for the Lord, it should be good enough for Uncle Sam.
We must also demand consideration of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The rights should include:
1. Taxpayers have a right to have a federal government that does not grow beyond their ability to pay for it.
2. Taxpayers have a right to receive back each dollar that they entrust to the government for their retirement.
3. Taxpayers have a right to expect the government to balance the budget without having their taxes raised.
4. Taxpayers have a right to a simple, fair tax code that they can understand.
Recently, Congress passed President Obama's budget for next year. I opposed this budget because it spends too much, borrows too much, and taxes too much. It is a staggering $3.5 trillion spending plan paid for by our children and grandchildren. With this plan, congressional big-spenders and tax-increasers are not only angering concerned citizens everywhere, but they are doing many of the things that prompted the first tea parties in 1773.
I absolutely oppose those in Congress who plan to borrow more from overseas, while taxing more from hardworking Americans. This is not how a responsible government is supposed to operate.
On Tax Day 2009, I hope we turn up the heat on the administration and congressional leadership to remind them of Winston Churchill's great words: "For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle."
And if the current congressional leadership can't take the heat, fiscally responsible Republicans will be happy to take over in the kitchen.
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Watkinsville, represents Georgia's 10th Congressional District.
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