Mr. President, I want to thank the senator from South Carolina for his comments. As the only accountant in the Senate, I really appreciate when others join in the debate about the accounting issue that, if there is a surplus, why is the national debt going up? It's a very simple test. It is our duty to be sure that there is good accounting around here, that we aren't keeping two sets of books, that we aren't borrowing the best of each world, and the articles that were mentioned, I want to point out that it said that everybody's involved in this. The president is even accepting the best of both worlds so that things can be done this year, rather than in future years when a more accurate surplus shows up. The best that anybody's talking about right now is that $3 trillion in surplus, and this is supposed to be a true surplus not counting Social Security. We're almost $6 trillion in debt. So if all of the surplus went to debt, we'd still be $3 trillion in debt. That's a lot of money.
But what we're talking about here today isn't whether it's a true surplus or not. We're not talking about spending down the national debt. What we're talking about is spending versus tax relief. The intent of taking away from tax relief by the Democrats isn't with the intent of paying down the national debt. It's to put it into new programs. We already have programs that are not adequately funded in this country. We have programs that we have dedicated ourselves to in the past that are not adequately funded. We keep hearing ideas from the other side, and we all have ideas for other things that we'd like to spend your money on. But these ideas for new spending programs will also be inadequately funded. This debate is about spending versus tax relief -- if you get confused somewhere in between, your lost in the rhetoric that you just heard. Spending versus tax relief. We're saying that there will have been a true overpayment of three trillion dollars -- that's an overpayment of your tax money. Do you want that spent on new programs, or do you want some of it back? That's the issue around here.
If we were truly talking about paying down the national debt, Sen. Allard and I have a bill that really concerns about paying off the national debt, not paying down the national debt, paying off the national debt -- paying it off over a 30-year period. Just like you pay a house mortgage. Pay it down like a house mortgage. Thirty years of payments. How do you do that? You take 30 billion a year, plus the interest that you save by paying down the debt, over a 30-year period. Not all the pain that everybody talks about, but something that we owe to future generations. It wasn't them who spent the money -- it was us. So we have an obligation to start the payments on that. We're buying a house for future generations. Yes, they will have to make some of the payments on it because it extends over 30 years. But yes, we can pay off the national debt and we can do it and still have money to do some of the other things. There's a bill that will put it on 30-year payments. I hope people will pay a little bit more attention to it, while we're touting paying off the national debt. That should be an important factor to us.
That isn't what the debate is about today. The debate's about spending versus paying back your overpayment of taxes. I listened to 45 minutes of speeches that preceded me, and it seems to me that the Democratic definition of wealthy is anyone who pays taxes. The say if you pay taxes, you ought not get any back - we just have to worry about the poor. Everybody in this country gets something from the government. Everybody. Sometimes it looks like some are getting more, but everybody gets something from the government. Almost half of the people in this country don't pay taxes. When that slips over that half mark, in a Democracy, in a republic where we vote for our elected officials, what will be the sole source and reason for that vote? Whether we pay taxes or not is the answer. There will always be some paying taxes, and those who pay the taxes when there's an overpayment ought to receive some of the money back.
The president has been saying that he wants to save Social Security first, extend the life of Medicare second, then we get a little confused on what comes third. I think the president is for more spending rather than tax relief. I've listened to two State of the Union speeches where the message was 'Save Social Security First.' I'm still waiting for the plan. A true plan -- I've seen the one where money is taken from Social Security and put into a trust fund, then a check is written for spending and all the trust fund winds up with is IOUs. That's the way it's been, that's the way it is, that's the way the president wants it to be. You can take that money and instead of just putting into regular spending, you can just put it back into Social Security again. This is the greatest pyramid scheme that's every happened. You can show where you can get that trust fund up a couple trillion dollars and it's just by spending the trust fund money and putting it back in again. It's the same money being counted time after time after time. That isn't true accounting and it doesn't save Social Security.
We have a crisis coming up in Social Security. There are at least five plans out there on Social Security -- the best of each of those plans could be combined into one and we could save Social Security first. Medicare -- extremely important. A lot of people relying on it. You know what the biggest debate in Medicare is these days? How we can spend more money. How we can include more people, more benefits, and we're still leaving those people kind of dangling out there that are really counting on Medicare. We have a trust fund that we're revolving and spending there, too. We have to quit putting in the IOUs.
A little known fact about this tax proposal is that it isn't a Republican plan. This is a bipartisan plan that passed out of the Finance Committee. If you check the Washington post today, you'll find a guest editorial by [Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb.], who explains that the tax relief package is important and why he voted for it in committee.
This tax proposal is a bit more complicated than anything I'm interested in, but every senator here doesn't get his own way on a tax package and I'm willing to recognize that. Again, we have Social Security we need to save, Medicare we need to strengthen. We need to take care of debt reduction and I've suggested a way that may be done, that there's a bill out there that can do it relatively painlessly over a 30-year period. I hope that instead of going into a bunch of new spending programs that we will look at tax relief for every American tax payer as the money is available. Tax relief for every American tax payer. That means giving the tax break to those who are paying the tax.
I also want to talk about small business and individual death tax relief. This is a big issue in my part of the country. Wyoming is mostly small businesses. Those small businesses are sometimes retailers and manufacturing. Quite often, though, they're ranches and farms. Let me tell you what happens when the head of a household dies on a ranch or farm: The IRS estimates the value of his property. Estimates. I haven't seen anybody saying that those estimates are low. They estimate the value of the property and that family sells off part or all of the land to pay that tax debt. Now if you sell of a part of a ranch or a farm, what you're left with isn't economically viable. In fact, with the current economic situation, there's a lot of question about the economic viability of the future of our family farms and ranches. There is tremendous concern out there for that. We also have this death tax that we impose by the IRS estimates at the time of death. If I could dictate the Finance Committee's final decisions on these things, I wouldn't have an estimate at the time of death. I would have a real value at the time there's any sale. If it stays in the family, it keeps the same basis as always, and you don't have to estimate then. When the property or business is sold, you're not eliminating an economically viable business at that time. You're collecting the revenues for a true value on a sale. There are other ways that can be enhanced, and I hope in an incremental way that it will.
I see that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, from Texas is here. I've worked with her on marriage tax penalty relief. It's a grossly unfair situation in the U.S. We're not putting our tax policy were our mouth is. We're saying we want stronger families in this country, and then we're penalizing marriage. We can't have that. There are a number of changes that need to be made in our tax policy. I was naive when I first came here. I anticipated that senators sat down in little groups and crossed out words and came up with lines and got things passed. I am disappointed in the cross communication here. I want to congratulate the Finance Committee on the work they did on this tax package. It is a bipartisan tax package. I hope that people will work to improve it, not only on the Senate side but across the building. Often it seems to me that we have more conflicts between House and Senate than between Democrats and Republicans.
When you're listening to the rhetoric on whether we're going to spend, which is the reason we're not going to do tax relief or do tax relief, pay attention to the debate because you will hear some dissension among the Republicans. Probably because we understand taxes and want to come up with the best possible plan, the best possible way of dealing with any overpayment that comes up. I thank the chair and yield the floor.