Ahead of President Trump’s push for tax reform in Springfield, Missouri, Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., published an op-ed demanding that Congress’ bill include real tax cuts and that the details of the bill be debated in the open.
Decrying the talk from “wonks in Washington,” Paul argued that tax reform must not be “revenue neutral” through offsets elsewhere in the tax code.
“Revenue neutral ultimately means that someone pays more for someone else to pay less. It means tax ‘reform’ without real tax cuts,” Paul wrote.
“I fear that tax reform that mandates revenue neutrality will result in those with the best lobbyists, lawyers and accountants being the winners, while most everyone else either gets nothing or largely loses out,” he explained.
Senator Paul laid out three “areas of focus” for a tax reform plan that he says will work. First, Sen. Paul says that every American should see his or her tax rate lowered by a percentage. Second, the corporate tax rate should be cut to 15 percent. Third, Sen. Paul wants to end the 35 percent tax on overseas profits, bring that rate down to 5 percent, and make it voluntary to encourage corporations to bring their overseas investments back to the United States.
Paul writes that the basic premise of these ideas could receive bipartisan support, “and we can get down to arguing about the exact numbers.”
“We can do this, but not if we operate the way the Swamp normally does. Secret meetings. Leaders writing complicated bills no one sees. Lobbyists getting their pet provisions in bills.”
Senator Paul’s message came just ahead of a major speech President Trump delivered in Springfield, Mo., Wednesday outlining the principles of his tax reform plan. The president did not mention specific proposals in his speech, but rather relayed general themes of making the tax code simple and fair, closing loopholes for special interests, and easing the burden on businesses.
The White House does not plan to release details of its tax reform plan, apparently deferring to congressional leadership on the details, which remain unknown.
A collective of Republican leadership known as the “Big Six” – including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch — have been negotiating the plan in secret.
Earlier in August, some members of Congress expressed frustration with the lack of guidance from Republican leadership on tax reform. The secrecy surrounding this tax bill echoes the secrecy surrounding the Senate’s Obamacare repeal and replace legislation. That bill failed, in part, because Republican leadership hid the details from members of Congress until the last minute and failed to build a case for passing the bill to the American people.
Senator Paul warns that history can repeat itself with tax reform if Republicans fail to lead.
“If tax reform is run like most things around here — like Obamacare repeal, for example — then I can't predict what will happen other than it will be complicated, won't help much and could even fail,” Paul wrote. “There's no excuse for that.”