November 10, 2017
"Tax reform is a noble goal but an ugly process," Howard Kurtz said, almost sympathetically. He won't have to convince Republicans of that, as they slog through one of the biggest tax rewrites since Ronald Reagan. It's a grueling process for the members and staff, who not only feel the weight of the task -- but the weight of expectation. For a party who hasn't delivered on its key promises to voters, this debate is the debate for changing that.
While the rest of the city was emptying out for Veterans Day, the light on the Capitol dome was still on, signaling the ongoing work of the chambers underneath. That work turned out to be incredibly good news for families, as the House Ways and Means Committee passed a much-improved version of the tax reform package Americans were introduced to last week. Heeding the chorus of conservatives' concerns, Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) made the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act even stronger -- thanks to a 29-page amendment that addresses everything from the Johnson Amendment to marriage penalties and the adoption credit. Happy with the work of his committee, Brady told reporters that this proposal "reflects the consideration and thought we've heard on both sides of the aisle."
It was a big win for families, who stand to keep a lot more of their hard-earned money, and it was a win for free speech. Unlike the earlier draft of the bill, churches aren't the only ones that'll have the opportunity to speak freely in the political process -- so will nonprofit and faith-based groups. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) were able to expand the old language and incorporate their Free Speech Fairness Act into the bill, which stops the IRS from policing the speech of churches and other charitable organizations. That's a huge relief for men and women of faith, who watched the Obama IRS breathe down the necks of nonprofits and religious entities, threatening to take away their tax exempt status if they dared to talk about moral or political issues.
Most importantly, the House plan recognizes that families are at the heart of our economy. By increasing the child tax credit (the most popular piece of the proposal, according to polling), moms and dads can provide better for their children. And with the changes to education savings accounts, that includes unborn children. Now, expectant parents will be able to put aside money for their babies' future learning. Marriage tax penalty rates are significantly reduced -- something that pro-family groups like FRC have been advocating for years.
Ivanka Trump, who flew back early from her dad's Asian tour, was thrilled to see the tax relief for parents.
"The average American family," she points out, "spends almost 30 percent of pre-tax income on the cost of childcare. So the cost of childcare has gone through the roof and families just can't afford it... The GOP idea is not to have government become more involved in providing affordable childcare services but rather to deliver a tax plan that will empower parents to better care for their kids -- which means leaving parents with more of the money they've earned rather than allowing the government to take it via taxation and reallocating it as it sees fit."
Americans overwhelmingly agree, Politico shows in a new survey. While the liberal media is busy panning the plan, they may be the only ones. According to the poll, 45 percent of the country supports the GOP's proposal, an almost 10-point gap from the 36 percent who don't. Most Americans think it would have a positive impact on them (36 percent) than negative (25 percent). And with the greatest enthusiasm, most say it would benefit the economy (42 percent); only 22 percent disagreed.
That's good news for House Republicans, who have plenty of hurdles to go before H.R. 1 is a reality. The Senate, with its own draft of tax reform, may be the biggest. But House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) is still confident the two chambers can work something out. "Yes, the Senate bill is going to be different than the House bill, because you know what? That's the legislative process. But what's encouraging in all of this is... we have a framework that we established with the White House and the Senate, and these bills are being written inside that framework." Ironing out the differences won't be easy, but it is doable. "The House will pass its bill, the Senate will pass its bill, and then we will get together and reconcile the differences, which is the legislative process, and that's how this process will continue."
In the meantime, we tip our hats to House Republicans for listening to voters and giving conservatives a plan they can be proud of. For more on the tax debate, check out FRC's Ken Blackwell on Fox Business.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.