I have devoted time in my columns to describe what is wrong with the Trump/Fortenberry/GOP tax bill. I believe that most people are familiar with the many bad features of this legislation. However, it’s not enough to point out the flaws in GOP legislation and proposals. As Democrats, we need to tell the voters what we stand for – what we will do when we are returned to power. (It will be sooner rather than later.)
The first way to get tax reform right is to fix the process. In my opinion, a better process is much more likely to produce a better bill. We must start with multiple hearings, expert witness testimony and a full Congressional Budget Office score. In addition, we need to include responsible Republicans when we draft legislation. I’m willing to work with anybody who in good faith shares our goals. We should try to establish a bi-partisan process.
One of the many false talking points from the GOP and the right is that Democrats don’t have any ideas and only stand for opposition to Trump. That simply isn’t true. Since the 2016 elections, Democrats at both the state and federal levels have begun to come up with innovative policy ideas in many areas – including taxes.
As a Democrat and a candidate for Congress, I stand for middle class tax cuts that don’t increase the deficit. As Harry Truman said about a GOP tax bill that he vetoed: ” And when tax relief can be given, it ought to go to those who need it most, and not those who need it least, as this Republican rich man’s tax bill did.”
One creative idea percolating in Congress is the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to reach more childless workers. The proposal has been termed: “EITC for All.” The current version of the EITC was expanded under President Clinton in 1997 and it has lifted 10 million people out of poverty every year. It is one of our most successful anti-poverty programs.
EITC for All would encourage young men to seek employment, make increased child support payments, contribute to higher marriage rates and reduce the rate of incarceration. An expansion of the EITC for childless workers would benefit a wide swath of Americans – beyond just young men.
Another important tax reform being proposed by Senators Michael Bennett (D-CO) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) would significantly increase the child tax credit and potentially cut the child poverty rate in half. The cost of this proposal is only half of the cost of the Trump/Fortenberry tax cuts. It would have virtue of reducing the United States’ scandalously high child poverty rate.
The guiding philosophy of my tax cut proposals is that the middle class is the key to a better economy. If the middle class has more money to spend, we can build a stronger economy for all Americans. The middle class – not the wealthy – the genuine job creators. I think history has clearly demonstrated that trickle down economics simply doesn’t work. It is a failed strategy.
If we are to enact these kinds of progressive policies that will benefit all Americans, we need to win the elections in 2018 and 2020. We can never take a day off. The American people are on our side. They are thirsting for the kind of change we offer. Now let’s go out and get it done! Thank you!