GUEST EDITORIAL: Let’s have that debate on tax reform plan

U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, is to be commended for advancing a comprehensive federal tax reform proposal, something that he has been working on for the past three years.

He could have sat back, waited for the November elections to pass and then went back to work on this signature legislation. Instead, recognizing the sorry plight of the U.S. economy, he bucked even some in his own party as he worked to simplify and make fairer a complicated, confusing, 70,000-page U.S. tax code.

The reform plan is the result of 30 separate congressional hearings, 11 separate bipartisan tax reform working groups, three discussion drafts that looked at different areas of the tax code and more than 14,000 public comments at TaxReform.Gov.

Just about every politician, including President Barack Obama, has spoken of the need for tax reform, and Camp has offered a plan that the Joint Committee on Taxation says will create up to 1.8 million new private sector jobs, and increase the Gross Domestic Product by up to $3.4 trillion over a 10-year period.

Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has offered a plan that not only simplifies the individual and business tax code, it also holds promise that more low- and middle-income Americans will get to keep more of what they earn as the average middle-class family of four would see an extra $1,300 per year. The act would increase the Child Tax Credit to $1,500 per child.

The Ways and Means Committee drafted legislation that will allow an estimated 95 percent of tax filers to get the lowest rate by simply claiming an increased standard deduction.

The Tax Reform Act of 2014 will repeal about 25 percent of the current tax code, change the way the earned income tax credit is figured and cap the mortgage interest deduction, shrink the number of tax brackets from seven to two, with a 10 percent increase in the top rate that will apply to people earning above $450,000 for joint filers, among other changes.

Camp and the JCT say that the tax plan will be revenue neutral, which could pose problems for getting the legislation through the Senate and signed by Obama. Both want to raise a trillion dollars through changes in the tax system.

As a matter of fact, it’s disappointing to listen to the two top leaders of the Senate — Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — as they already blame each other for this legislation’s failure in the Senate, rather than debating its merits.

Camp has shown that he is willing to debate these tax points for the good of the economy.

“I have never felt that I ought to warm the chair and sail through the election in November,” responded Camp when asked why he introduced the act now. “We need to have this debate. We’re not seeing the kind of growth. There are fewer people in the workforce than were in the Carter Administration in terms of participation rates. We need to have these ideas out there and if this isn’t good enough, let’s see what the alternative is.”

We agree. We need a tax system that is easier to understand, fair, transparent, less costly, less wasteful and less frustrating.

Reid and McConnell need to get that message too.


This editorial originally was published in the Feb. 27 edition of the Midland Daily News.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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