Frank R. Pignanelli and LaVarr Webb: Tax reform, monuments generate holiday food fights

Jeff Roberson, Associated Press

President Donald Trump speaks about tax reform Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, in St. Charles, Mo.

The holiday season (President Trump prefers that we say “Christmas season”) is officially upon us. Americans are in a mad dash to complete shopping and work projects before relaxing. Politicians are also scrambling at year’s end. We explore some of the action.

A UtahPolicy.com poll showed 53 percent of Utahns agree with the Republican spin on federal tax reform (make the tax system simpler, fairer and help the middle class), while 34 percent agree with the Democratic spin (GOP reform will mostly benefit the rich and well-connected). This disparity is reflected across the country. Will Congress get any tax reform passed by the new year, or ever?

Pignanelli: “No one feels undertaxed. Tax reform is an important issue, and there must be an inherent sense of fairness.” — Stephen A. Schwarzman

The politics of comprehensive tax reform are similar to the politics of a successful Thanksgiving dinner in 21st-century America (especially in my family). In addition to the traditional fare (turkey, stuffing, potatoes, etc.) modern side dishes are now required (i.e. organic, gluten-free, dairy free, non-GMO, Vegan, etc.). There has to be something for everyone … or else.

The proposals contain some important items (simplification, lower rates, potential child credit, ending regressive state tax deductions), but others are typical D.C. frustrations. In one version, corporate tax breaks are permanent, but middle-income earners could lose their reduction in 10 years because of the “Byrd Rule.” The Senate adopted this years ago to prevent deficits, but $20 trillion of debt document the failure of such well-intended measures. Also, millions of Americans providing services through pass-through corporations provide jobs and resources to their communities that cannot be excluded from the tax-reform dinner.

Menu advice to Congress: Americans don’t care about the Byrd Rule, so carve it out. Big companies can get a large serving of the tax-reform meal, but everyone else deserves to feast. Otherwise, there’ll be a huge food fight — a big mess with no winners.

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