Washington, D.CToday, Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and the Senate Budget Committee  held a hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget and Revenue Proposals with Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. At the hearing, Murray addressed revenue proposals in the President’s budget and discussed ways to encourage job creation and economic growth through the tax code, such as expanding work incentives for struggling Americans and closing wasteful corporate loopholes to invest in rebuilding our transportation infrastructure. Murray also discussed the need to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share towards responsibly tackling our long-term budget challenges.

Key Excerpts From Chairman Murray’s Opening Statement:

We have a two-year budget agreement in place, and we’ve taken the possibility of another fiscal crisis off the table through 2015. This was a very important step forward for families and businesses who expect some certainty from Washington. D.C.  But, it can’t be the last step we take.”

“As we’re looking for ways to address each of these challenges—getting more Americans back to work and bringing down our debt over the long-term—we are going to have to take a close look at our tax code. Because right now, it is getting in the way. It is incentivizing activities that do not help job growth in the United States, and we are missing opportunities to end wasteful spending in our tax code and bring down our long-term debt.”

“Our tax code is riddled with wasteful loopholes and special-interest carve-outs…And far too many of these tax breaks are skewed to benefit the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations, who need them the least. In other words, we’re spending a lot of money through the tax code on wasteful and inefficient giveaways to people and businesses who don’t need help, at a time when investing in better schools, infrastructure repairs, or medical research could strengthen our economy and help a lot of families who really do.”

“I am very pleased that there appears to be some agreement about getting rid of wasteful, unfair tax loopholes. Chairman Camp would close a loophole —sometimes called the ‘John Edwards,’ or ‘Newt Gingrich’ loophole—that enables some wealthy business owners to get out of contributing their fair share to Medicare and Social Security. He would eliminate special tax breaks for oil companies and bring an end to Wall Street gaming in derivative contracts, which cheats taxpayers out of billions of dollars every year. And Chairman Camp would close the carried interest loophole that allows hedge fund managers to pay lower taxes on their income than many middle class Americans do.”

“These are just a few of the unfair special breaks that both Democrats and Republicans agree we need to eliminate. In fact, every one of these provisions also appears in the President’s budget.”

“The bottom line is there’s bipartisan support for the EITC, and there is bipartisan support for closing the kinds of loopholes that could help us expand it to more struggling workers. So I really hope that my Republican colleagues will be interested in working with us on this.”

Full Text Of Chairman Murray’s Opening Statement:

“This hearing will now come to order.

“Secretary Lew, we are glad to have you here today.

“Thank you for all of the important work you are doing to boost our economy and strengthen the middle class.

“And thank you to Ranking Member Senator Sessions and all of our colleagues who have joined us.

“Today I would like to take a few minutes to talk about where we are now in terms of the budget and our economic outlook, and why I think there should be some opportunities for bipartisanship when it comes to creating jobs and encouraging growth through our tax code.

“We have a two-year budget agreement in place, and we’ve taken the possibility of another fiscal crisis off the table through 2015.

“This was a very important step forward for families and businesses who expect some certainty from Washington. D.C.

“But it can’t be the last step we take.

“Because, while the economy has come a long way since the Great Recession began in late 2007, we all know we are still not where we need to be.

“We need to do everything we can to get more people back on the job and build a foundation for broad-based economic growth now and in the future.

“When it comes to our debt and deficits, we’ve also made a lot of progress over the last few years.

“Since August 2010, we’ve put in place $3.3 trillion in deficit reduction.

“This year our deficit will be about a third of what the Congressional Budget Office expected it to be just five years ago—and the long-term outlook has improved somewhat as well.

“But there is much more we will need to do to tackle our debt and deficits over the coming decades.

“As we’re looking for ways to address each of these challenges—getting more Americans back to work and bringing down our debt over the long-term—we are going to have to take a close look at our tax code. Because right now, it is getting in the way.

“It is incentivizing activities that do not help job growth in the United States, and we are missing opportunities to end wasteful spending in our tax code and bring down our long-term debt.

“Our tax code is riddled with wasteful loopholes and special-interest carve-outs.

“In 2014 alone tax expenditures, or the countless special tax breaks in our code, will cost us $1.4 trillion. That’s more than we’re expected to spend on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, or our national defense this year.

“And far too many of these tax breaks are skewed to benefit the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations, who need them the least.

“In other words, we’re spending a lot of money through the tax code on wasteful and inefficient giveaways to people and businesses who don’t need help, at a time when investing in better schools, infrastructure repairs, or medical research could strengthen our economy and help a lot of families who really do.

“The good news is there are members on both sides of the aisle who would like to eliminate wasteful expenditures in our tax code.

“House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp recently released a new House Republican tax reform proposal that would get rid of many of them.

“Now, I have some serious concerns about Chairman Camp’s plan.

“It puts every dollar of savings from closing loopholes back into lower rates, primarily for corporations and those at the top of the income scale, and continues to protect the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations from paying their fair share  toward reducing our deficit and boosting the economy.

“Chairman Camp’s plan does nothing to help tackle our long-term budget challenges. In fact, it depends on gimmicks just to stay deficit neutral over the next ten years, and would increase deficits in the decades beyond.

“This is truly disappointing, because the fact is, when you take a serious look at our debt and deficit in the coming decades, tax reform that doesn’t help stabilize our debt is simply fiscally irresponsible.

“But with that said, I am very pleased that there appears to be some agreement about getting rid of wasteful, unfair tax loopholes.

“Chairman Camp would close a loophole —sometimes called the ‘John Edwards,’ or ‘Newt Gingrich’ loophole—that enables some wealthy business owners to get out of contributing their fair share to Medicare and Social Security.

“He would eliminate special tax breaks for oil companies and bring an end to Wall Street gaming in derivative contracts, which cheats taxpayers out of billions of dollars every year. 

“And Chairman Camp would close the carried interest loophole that allows hedge fund managers to pay lower taxes on their income than many middle class Americans do.

“These are just a few of the unfair special breaks that both Democrats and Republicans agree we need to eliminate. In fact, every one of these provisions also appears in the President’s budget.

“As we continue to work towards comprehensive tax reform, moving forward on any of them could help us do a lot to tackle our long-term debt challenges. And we could also put some savings towards investments in job creation and economic growth.

“One option I think there is a lot of interest in exploring is an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which President Obama proposed in his budget.

“The EITC helps lift millions of Americans out of poverty each year by rewarding work. But right now, workers who don’t have children, and workers whose children are no longer dependents, are being left behind.

“The President’s proposal could really help them out, because currently, they are eligible for a maximum EITC that is only a tiny fraction of the maximum credit available to workers with dependent children.

“President Obama’s proposal would boost the credit for childless workers, further incentivizing work and expanding economic opportunity for more Americans who are trying to make ends meet. 

“To pay for it, President Obama would close a number of loopholes Chairman Camp also agrees we should close, like the carried interest loophole for hedge fund managers.

“Chairman Camp unfortunately proposed cutting EITC in his plan—but many other Republicans and conservative experts agree it has been effective.

“One expert from the American Enterprise Institute said recently, Look, I’ve been doing public policy since the 1970s, and this program worked.’

“And Chairman Ryan said that the earned income tax credit gives families flexibility’ and lets them take ownership of their lives.’

“The bottom line is there’s bipartisan support for the EITC, and there is bipartisan support for closing the kinds of loopholes that could help us expand it to more struggling workers. So I really hope that my Republican colleagues will be interested in working with us on this.

“Another issue I’m going to be very focused on in the next few months, and I know many of my colleagues will be too, is making sure the Highway Trust Fund can pay its bills.

“The fund is facing a $60 billion shortfall over the next several years. As soon as mid-August, this could stall construction projects and put jobs across the country in jeopardy. If this isn’t resolved, it would place an unnecessary drag on our recovery this year, and would put off much-needed repairs to our roads and bridges, costing us much more down the line.

“So I was pleased both President Obama and Chairman Camp proposed using one-time corporate revenue to help tackle this fast-approaching infrastructure deficit.

“In the past, both parties have been able to agree that repairing critical infrastructure is a good way to create jobs and encourage growth.

“Helping to create jobs here at home—rather than letting corporations send them overseas to avoid paying taxes—just makes a lot of sense.

“So between now and August, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to work together on closing just a few corporate loopholes that both sides agree are unfair, in order to make sure planned repairs to our roads and bridges continue, and prevent any further hardship for workers in an industry that is just now getting back on its feet after the recession.

“Now, even though closing wasteful loopholes is something many of us agree on, and even though many of us also agree that work incentives for struggling Americans and investments in our infrastructure make sense, I know moving the ball forward won’t be easy.

“Everyone here is well aware there are fundamental differences between our parties when it comes to making tax reforms.

“But as we saw in December, when both sides join together ready to make some tough choices and compromise, we really can deliver.

“I think there are important opportunities to build on that bipartisan foundation by encouraging growth and job creation through our tax code.

“I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle agree—and I’m ready to get to work.

“And now I’ll turn it over to my colleague Senator Sessions for his opening remarks.”