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June 14 2017

There May Be a Path to Lasting Tax Cuts with 51 Votes

by Charlotte Hays

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and David McIntosh president of the Club for Growth, team up to explain how Americans can get tax reform that outlasts the traditional ten years horizon under the process known as budget reconciliation. First, what kind of tax cuts are needed?

Americans know what kind of tax reform they want: a bill that cuts rates across the board, kills the death tax and the alternative minimum tax, expands the personal and family exemptions, and eliminates politically directed loopholes. If lawmakers passed such a plan, it would supercharge the economy and create millions of jobs. 

Tax reform can be achieved by 51 votes in the Senate under complex reconciliation rules. But because of the Byrd Rule the cuts traditionally expire in around ten years "like Cinderella’s carriage turning into a pumpkin at midnight." Norquist and McIntosh explain why this impedes economic growth:

But any tax reform meant to spur economic growth should be permanent so that corporations and entrepreneurs can plan ahead. If they don’t know what the rules will be a few years down the road, it is tougher to build factories, hire new workers, invest in equipment, or spend on research and development. 

The conventional wisdom, they write, is that the only way to get permanent tax cuts is to offset them with corresponding tax increases (UGH), broaden the tax base, or make permanent spending cuts (the third sounds like a winner to this laywoman, though of course Democrats will throw a hissy fit at every proposed cut). But Norquist and McIntosh say these are not the only paths to lasting tax reform: proposal:

There’s another option: Extend the budget window to 25 years—or longer. The 10-year window is not set in stone. The Budget Act of 1974 simply says that the window has to be at least five years in duration.

 The idea of modifying the time frame isn’t new, and it certainly isn’t radical. The budget window was expanded in fiscal year 1995 from five years to seven. Congress used the 10-year window for the first time in 2000, but then went back to five years again as recently as 2007.

We say extend the budget window to 25 years. Why? Because the people creating jobs and investing in new products think long-term. Depreciation schedules for new plant and equipment often run to 25 years or more.

 If Congress is serious about boosting the economy, it should pass a net tax cut within the extended 25-year budget window. As President Trump says, “prime the pump” now and the economy will start to flow, creating millions of jobs and more tax money for Washington.

Senator Pat Toomey, Republican from Pennsylvania, is promoting just such a move, and Norquist and McIntosh compare it to cutting the Gordian Knot. This is a way to unravel the Byrd Rule and create millions of jobs.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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