It’s hard to imagine that any normal business, let alone meaningful reform, can move forward in Washington amid the daily distractions swirling around the Trump administration. Fortunately, though, GOP leaders vow to push ahead with an effort to overhaul the U.S. tax system for the first time in 31 years.
It's work that desperately needs to be done.
According to The Associated Press, a group of high-profile business leaders has launched an aggressive lobbying push to see that tax reform doesn’t fall victim to controversies surrounding the White House. House Speaker Paul Ryan has also vowed to keep the issue alive. This is welcome news.
“I feel very confident we can meet this goal,” Speaker Ryan told reporters.
As the AP reported, the Trump administration released a one-page tax proposal last month that aggressively cuts taxes for businesses, increases the standard deduction for middle-income families, eliminates many itemized deductions, lowers taxes on investments, and puts an end to the federal estate tax.
There is widespread agreement in Washington among both Democrats and Republicans that the current tax system is overly complicated and creates perverse incentives for business that discourage investment. But the blueprints for repair remain divisive. Democrats was to close loopholes that make the system confusing and allow the very rich to avoid paying taxes. Republicans want to see the tax burden on corporations reduced.
“I do believe that there are very serious and legitimate concerns to any version of tax reform, and we’re going to have to accommodate those concerns as we move to a new tax system,” Speaker Ryan said.
Polls show tax reform to be popular with most Americans. To pressure Congress to act on the issue, billionaire libertarian industrialists Charles and David Koch are launching a multimillion-dollar campaign this summer to promote tax policies that allow workers to keep more of what they earn and encourage entrepreneurship and job creation. The campaign will feature digital advertising and direct mail, as well as phone banks and town hall meetings.
“Now is the time. We’ve got to unite around these principles,” said James Davis, spokesman for the Kochs’ political network. “The White House hopefully will see this as a jolt to support them in driving this forward.”
Things do, in fact, appear to be advancing already. According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, 100 staffers in his department are currently working on an overhaul that will both bring “meaningful relief” to the middle class and boost the ability of American businesses to compete in the global marketplace.
The long-term fiscal health of this nation is more important than the chaos described by any momentary headline. Congress needs to soldier on toward comprehensive tax reform despite the White House distractions.
This editorial first appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal, a News Herald sister paper with Gatehouse Media.