True Tax Reform Takes Time & Bipartisanship
This week, Washington is laser focused on tax reform. Before the Thanksgiving recess, the House passed a bill that would overhaul the current structure. Now, all eyes are on the Senate, where Republicans are trying to push through legislation and get it to President Trump’s desk as quickly as possible.
While the potential impact of a tax reform bill is profound, one crucial element is missing from today’s politicking: Democratic support. This is both bad public policy and bad for the American people.
It’s in no one’s best interest to have tax reform unilaterally pushed through along party lines. This goes far beyond our core belief that collaboration is best for the country. Republicans are trying to pass the bill using a budgetary process called reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority of 51 votes without being subject to a filibuster. If successful, the bill will sunset after a decade. That means that in just 10 years, Washington would have to revisit this problem, causing unnecessary economic instability.
However, there is historical precedent that proves a bipartisan effort is not only possible but also effective. During the Reagan administration, both parties worked closely to pass the 1986 Tax Reform Act — the most comprehensive tax reform bill to date.
Throughout the long and arduous process, President Reagan repeatedly called on Republicans and Democrats to unite around moving tax reform legislation through Congress. Ultimately, the parties did come together, but true bipartisanship took time.
To come up with a tax system that was “clear, simple, and fair for all,” tough compromises had to be made on both sides. In the end, the House approved the final version of the bill 292 to 136, and the Senate approved it 74 to 23. A majority of both parties in both chambers voted for the final bill. But it was close to two years from when President Reagan declared his intent to simplify the tax code to when he signed the bill into law.
By contrast, Republicans today are on an expedited schedule. In just two weeks, representatives introduced a tax bill and cleared it through the House. Not one Democrat voted in support of it. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill this week or next.
As Republicans in Washington debate the merits of tax reform this week, we urge them to slow down and reach across the aisle. Lawmakers should be playing the long game — creating lasting change, rather than scoring political points that show the strength of one party.
No Labels is an organization of Democrats, Republicans, and independents working to bring American leaders together to solve problems.