October 20, 2017
It's not every day you see the words "Senate" and "passes" in the same sentence. But last night, the underachieving chamber finally delivered, approving a $4 trillion budget resolution -- and unlocking the door to the GOP's major tax overhaul. It was a rare victory for the Republicans, who haven't exactly been winning popularity contests since their botched attempts to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood.
Although the bill squeaked through 51-49, it unlocks the reconciliation process, meaning that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will only need 50 votes instead of the usual 60 to get his tax plan through. That's a relief for GOP leaders, who would have had a tough time rallying any Democratic support for the idea. President Trump, who's been waiting nine months for the Senate to do anything of substance on his legislative agenda, seized the rare opportunity to applaud the Senate. "This now allows for the passage of large scale Tax Cuts (and Reform), which will be the biggest in the history of our country!"
In my conversation with Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) on "Washington Watch" yesterday, it's obvious that the GOP understands the stakes moving forward. "Republicans in this Senate understand that if we don't get this done, we're in a lot of trouble. And that's a big motivator... We have reason to be fearful of what will happen when our constituents see us failing to do this, which is why we can't fail." With very little margin for error after the health care debacle, the GOP is determined to bring the same growth we're seeing on Wall Street to America's main streets.
One of the most important ways conservatives can do that is putting more money in families' pockets. Relief like the child tax credit, an idea that FRC originated in the 1990s, is exactly the kind of forward-thinking that leads to meaningful reform. Fortunately, Senators Lee and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) realize that and spent a lot of hours fighting to ease that burden in this bill. Their hard work paid off in Thursday's resolution, which doubled the credit to $2,000 per child. As Mike Lee reminded listeners of my show, "Today's children are tomorrow's workers," and the government needs to promote -- not punish -- families that produce the future drivers of our economy.
"We have to protect our ultimate entrepreneurial and investor class, which is America's moms and dads. The family is the most important institution in our society. It's the fundamental unit of our society and our economy. This is really an incubator of economic opportunity. It is one of the best indicators of economic success, and it's becoming more socially and economically important every day. But unfortunately, our current tax code singles out parents of young children and unfairly double taxes them. This is what I call the parent tax penalty. It's a glitch in our system that requires parents to contribute to our entitlement programs -- not once, but twice. So my idea for increasing the child tax credit is really a solution to this penalty."
The idea is to reward the moms and dads who are working and actually contributing to society. These are the families, after all, that the country is relying on to keep massive entitlements like social security afloat. As Joy Pullman points out in this sobering article for the Federalist, the system will collapse without a future generation of workers. As Rubio said on the Senate floor:
"[The family is] the first government. It's the first school. It's the core institution that underlies everything else we do as a nation. There is no more important job that any of us will ever do than the job of a parent. And if you think about our tax code, it says if you invest money in a piece of equipment or a business, the tax code will help you with that, but if you invest it in a future American taxpayer, if you invest it in someone who you are going to need to build the sort of economy and future we want for our nation, the tax code does not really take it into account. That makes no sense to me."
Apparently, it made no sense to Democrats either, who voted unanimously to raise the tax credit and start leveling the playing field for America's parents. For once, it may finally be sinking in that strong families are the key to a strong economy. A lot of the credit for that belongs to the Trumps, who've made this a centerpiece of their growth plan since day one. Our hats off to the Senate for bringing them one step closer to the ultimate goal: helping families help America.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.