House Rep Leaders Call for Tax Cuts, Not Spending

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

Capitol Hill ( - House Republican Leader Dick Armey (R-Tex) Wednesday said reducing the capital gains tax will spur economic growth and create jobs, something the economy badly needs. Armey noted that Congress has spent more than $100 billion since Sept. 11 on heightened security, defense, and other government services.

Armey told a Heritage Foundation economic forum on Capitol Hill that the House Ways and Means Committee has been given the go ahead to begin assembling an economic package of tax cuts of up to $75 billion without waiting for a negotiated agreement with Democrats and the Senate.

Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, (R-Calif.), said work on the package could begin as early as next week.

Armey is hoping that the package can see House action within two weeks. "What people need now is jobs. We can't spend our way out of this situation," he said.

According to Armey, it's time for Congress to look forward. He said reducing taxes on capital gains will spur economic growth and job creation, while accelerating the Bush tax-rate cuts would give people more incentive to "work, save and invest."

"Now is our time to turn our attention to growth. Our singular focus in economic policy between now and in the next couple of weeks when I hope we can complete this (economic package) is to recognize what this nation needs is to gain the level of growth that it can achieve, that it's capable of achieving," said Armey.

He reiterated, "Growth means jobs. We have an outpouring of concern across the country and through the halls of Congress for people out of work.

Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee told the forum he wants a capital gains tax cut, one that would apply only to stocks and other assets purchased on or after Sept. 11, the day the terrorists struck.

"Our economy needs a jump start, and capital investment from a capital gains cut can be the spark that makes that happen," he said.

But Portman also believes tax relief will provide new jobs for Americans.

"Since September 11th, tens of thousands of American workers have been put out of work. Our focus should be to pass tax relief that will help businesses get back on their feet and help them create new jobs," he said.

However, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, had some misgivings about the proposed Republican economic plan.

"These people have a hidden agenda. They think they can dust off anything they want and wrap the American flag around it," Rangel told reporters in Washington.