Republicans Must Deliver Tax Cuts For Working Families

Sen. Mike Lee Senator, Utah
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Let’s face it: Republicans in Washington must pass tax reform.

The American people elected us expecting us to repeal Obamacare and bring about tax reform.

We haven’t repealed Obamacare, and if we don’t get tax reform done we are in trouble. We might as well fold up our tent and go home.

Fortunately, tax reform looks to be off to a good start. The nine-page plan released by the White House Wednesday lowers rates, simplifies the tax code, and encourages businesses to invest in America again.

There is one problem though. The plan is not specific enough about how it will cut taxes for working families. And if those details aren’t filled in correctly then some working families would see no tax cut at all and others might even suffer a tax hike.

The hitch is this: two-thirds of Americans pay more in payroll taxes than income tax, and a large portion of these Americans are low or middle-class families. While the current White House plan keeps an income tax exemption in place for families with children, it eliminates the personal exemption, meaning some families with children could actually pay more under the White House plan than they do under the current tax model.

This is simply unacceptable. Those who choose to have children shouldn’t be responsible for more of the tax burden when they are already investing time, energy, and money in raising the next generation of American citizens. The aim of tax reform should be to put more money in the pockets of working families, not less. That is the kind of reform Americans voted for last November, and it should be the kind of reform Congress votes for now.

If this doesn’t happen, Democrats will surely attack tax reform as a give away to the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the very working class families that came to the polls for President Trump. In short, it could spell doom for tax reform, and doom to the Republican Party.

But don’t worry. There is a solution.

The White House tax plan does call for an increase of the child tax credit — it just doesn’t specify how much. If the tax reform legislation written by Congress fills in that detail correctly, if they at minimum double the child tax credit and make it applicable to payroll taxes, then Republicans can follow through on their promise to cut taxes for all working families. These two things alone would immediately put billions of dollars into the paychecks of working families every week.

Last Wednesday, President Trump unveiled this tax plan in Indiana, promising the American people who “we’re going to cut taxes for the middle class, make the tax code simpler and more fair for everyday Americans, and we are going to bring back the jobs and wealth that have left our country.” He continued, “we want tax reform that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-worker, pro-family, and yes, pro-American. It’s time to take care of our people to rebuild our nation, and to fight for our great American workers.”

Republicans in Congress share that sentiment and can follow through on this promise. They can show the nation they can govern. But none of that is going to happen if they leave working families out in the cold. If tax reform is going to pass, it is going to have to benefit all working families.

And the best way to do that is a big increase in the child tax credit and make it applicable to payroll taxes.

We can do this. Let’s get this done.

Mike Lee represents Utah in the United States Senate. A modified version of this op-ed first appeared in Senator Lee’s weekly email newsletter.

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