Recipe for Tax Reform: One Cup of Political Courage

Ever since the idea of tax reform was proposed in the 113th Congress, opposition and naysaying have dominated much of the reporting on the subject. With lobbyists, politicians, and many businesses loathe to lose special treatment, it is easy to say tax reform is in trouble. Even Tea Party Patriots was scathingly critical of the tax reform letter Senators Baucus (D-MT) and Hatch (R-UT) sent to their colleagues because it gave these same lobbyists and politicians many opportunities to maintain special treatment in the tax code.

Critiques of the tax reform effort have not let up in recent weeks. In an article on August 17, National Journal examined four reasons why tax reform in the House is difficult. On the 25th, a Washington-based CBS affiliate reported how many Democrats are hesitant – Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) is outright hostile – to back tax reform. Howard Gleckman declared on the Tax Policy Center’s blog that “[c]utting tax rates is a great idea in theory, but it is very tough to pull off.”

According to a senior Democratic aide on the Senate Finance Committee, however, progress is being made:

There are some obstacles but the chairmen are pushing ahead. They are both determined to get [tax reform] done and they have been building support throughout the summer meeting with people across the country.

House Ways & Means Committee spokesperson Sarah Swinehart told Tea Party Patriots that “The Committee has had 30 hearings and roundtables, and through we’ve received more than 10,000 comments on how we can create a simpler, fairer tax code.  Chairman Camp is focused on tax reform that helps families, makes our economy strong and creates more jobs and higher wages.”

With a goal of passing a tax reform bill through the Ways & Means Committee by year’s end, mixed signals are definitely coming from the media and the leading Capitol Hill proponents of tax reform. And yet, all it takes to pass tax reform is a bit of courage and intellectual honesty from those in Congress. Consider:

1) Members of Congress must be willing to make the tax system fairer and more economically efficient – which will create enemies on K Street.
2) They must be willing to admit that the wealthy pay the most in taxes.
3) They must admit that a democratic republic cannot survive when 50% of earners have no incentive to keep spending low, because they pay almost no taxes.
4) Finally, the politicians must be willing to give tough solutions to their constituents – solutions that will be difficult to adjust to, and may cause some politicians to be voted out of Congress…but solutions that will benefit America in the long-term.

The American economy has struggled for years, as the 2000 recession and the 2007 recession eliminated the financial gains of the middle Bush years. Tax reform, followed by regulatory and spending reforms, would give all Americans a better chance at the American Dream, and institute a fairer, freer market system in our country.