Opinion

Tax bill a bad deal for South Sound residents

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer is a Democrat from Gig Harbor.
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer is a Democrat from Gig Harbor.

We desperately need tax reform, but the tax bill Congress is debating isn’t for us.

If you’re in the middle class, this isn’t for you. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates the bill the Senate passed would raise taxes on 78 million middle-class families over the next decade.

If you care about the nation’s debt, this bill isn’t for you. It creates more than $1 trillion in new debt. That’s a bad deal for our kids, who are the ones who will be stuck with the check. It’s especially steep given that half the bill’s benefits go to the wealthiest 1 percent.

If you want more jobs in Tacoma, this isn’t for you. The bill has loopholes, lots of them, including one that could actually lead to more jobs being shipped overseas.

If you care about the environment, this isn’t for you. The Senate bill allows for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Yes – in a tax bill.

If you have a boss, this isn’t for you. The bill penalizes working people because it applies a higher tax rate to employee wages and salaries than to income earned by proprietors who do the exact same job.

If you’re a Native American, this isn’t for you. The federal tax code doesn’t recognize the unique sovereignty of tribal governments. The House and Senate proposals ignore this problem.

For those reasons, and more, this is a huge missed opportunity.

There’s a better way. Just last week, a group I’m in called the New Democrat Coalition issued a plan that could draw bipartisan support.

A better deal for us would:

▪  Expand benefits for the middle class. Everyday Americans should see more relief when they send a child to daycare, when they adopt, after they pay a big medical bill, or take on a student loan so they can earn more money.

▪  Reward workers who invest in themselves and companies that invest in employees. A lot of folks haven’t received a raise in several years.

We should expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to make work pay more. Business owners should see incentives to hire American workers and to invest in their skills – not for moving jobs overseas.

▪  Create a simpler tax code. Businesses should be able to devote more resources to their core businesses rather than doing taxes or looking for loopholes. A simple tax code is easier to enforce.

▪  Promote innovation and entrepreneurship. The tax code should make it easier for start-ups to raise money and encourage investments in research and development here in America.

Done right, tax reform can encourage more jobs for more people in more places – helping communities like ours that haven’t seen the massive growth experienced in the shadow of the Space Needle.

▪  Spur infrastructure investments. Democrats and Republicans agree that tax reform should encourage corporations to bring money back to the U.S. from overseas. The one-time revenues gained from that repatriation should be used for one-time investments – in roads and bridges and other infrastructure that could grow our economy.

▪  Be bipartisan and lasting. Going it alone doesn’t work. A partisan tax bill written behind closed doors is not built for long-term success. Republicans and Democrats should work together to do this right, so it only has to be done once.

Congress should put forward a bipartisan plan that promotes economic growth, helps the middle class and doesn’t blow a giant hole in our national debt. The tax package being considered in Congress is a missed opportunity.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, represents Washington's 6th Congressional District. Contact his Tacoma office at (253) 272-3515.

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