Tax Day is here, and President Trump and Republicans in the House and Senate are finally talking about tax reform. Unfortunately, a group of centrist and liberal Republicans may derail conservatives’ best efforts.
Currently, the tax code is a complex monstrosity of high taxes with special interest loopholes. It has been decades since the political landscape made fundamental, pro-growth tax reform a real possibility, and Republicans have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enact substantive change.
However, we have recently witnessed the power of a flip-flop from the Tuesday Group to completely destroy such an opportunity. Named after the day of their weekly meeting, the Tuesday Group is a sizeable collection of squishy-middle and liberal Republicans in the House. When I say “Republicans,” I am not suggesting they have a lot in common with grassroots Republicans across the country. I mean that it says “Republican” by their name on Wikipedia. And when I say “flip-flop,” it’s not that they bent a little or changed their messaging on Obamacare repeal; it’s that they completely reversed their position.
Before the election, Tuesday Group members voted for a strong repeal of Obamacare, including community rating and essential health benefits, with bills H.R. 2 (2011), H.R. 6079 (2012), H.R. 45 (2013) and H.R. 596 (2015). But when Trump won, they realized they only had two options: They could either stay true to their records and their words for the better part of a decade and lose Obamacare’s cost-raising Title I mandates, or they could reveal their true policy preferences and pressure leadership for a weak repeal, or even a repeal-in-name-only. And we all know what they decided to do.
After their Obamacare fraud, you start wondering how much we can trust Tuesday Group members. The 2016 Republican platform says, “Republicans consider the establishment of a pro-growth tax code a moral imperative,” and declares, “We must start anew.” We will soon find out soon whether the Tuesday Group will follow through on the party’s promises.
FreedomWorks espouses principles in keeping with years of messaging from the GOP: broaden the tax base, lower and consolidate individual tax rates, reduce the corporate tax and investment tax rates, simplify the tax code, and allow repatriation of overseas cash. Given that Republicans have control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, we see an extraordinary opportunity to get a fundamental tax reform bill passed in this Congress. More importantly, because Democrats are in no mood to help, Republicans can do it on their own terms.
Those who say that a tax reform bill should be revenue-neutral are answering the wrong question. If increasing the budget deficit is a concern, as is the case when moving legislation through reconciliation, Republicans should include spending cuts in a tax reform bill to ensure budget neutrality, not revenue neutrality.
After eight years of failed economic policies and endless regulation, the American people are in dire need of relief. Small business owners — the drivers of economic growth — want to expand, invest and hire more employees. Unfortunately, the spirit of entrepreneurship that has made America’s economy the envy of the world is being strangled by Washington’s tax and regulatory policies.
The United States has not seen economic growth of 3 percent or higher since 2005. The only way to change this is to let people keep more of their money and allow this spirit of entrepreneurship to thrive once again.
Will the Tuesday Group say these goals are extreme? If they do, they should be called the Tax Day Group going forward. And they should be honest about which party aligns best with their beliefs.
Noah Wall (@NoahWWall) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is FreedomWorks’ national director of campaigns.
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