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The First Line of Defense Against Higher Taxes

February 15, 2019

As you may know, I recently accepted the top Republican position on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, which writes tax policy for Congress. It’s quite an honor for me because my colleagues and I on this panel represent the first line of defense against higher taxes. According to the U.S. Constitution, any legislation concerning taxes must originate in the House of Representatives and by extension my committee. 

Fifteen months have passed since President Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which I worked to write as a member of this committee. Our economy is growing at greater than three percent and wages are increasing at nearly four percent. Americans are keeping more of their money with every paycheck. It has never been easier for an American who wants to take advantage of economic opportunity to enter the workforce or find a better job.

Last year, the Human Resources Subcommittee, which I then chaired, held a series of hearings reviewing what more we could do to engage those not currently in the workforce. We found reconnecting gave workers not just an income, but the dignity and pride of supporting their family and building self-sufficiency. We also found employers need people as badly as people on the sidelines need that first step back toward opportunity. 

The message from employers in those hearings was clear: they desperately need workers to fill good jobs, so much so that they are willing to train people themselves and pay them a competitive wage with good benefits to fill open positions. Last year, I had the opportunity to visit MetalQuest in Hebron to see their state of the art automated manufacturing facility. During my visit, the head of manufacturing told me that despite their automated production process, the biggest impediment to growth was a lack of people to operate and maintain machinery. This is a common refrain across Nebraska and much of the country.

I also recently visited the heavy equipment program at Central Community College in Hastings because I had been hearing from leaders across the construction industry how pleased they were to help create and support this program to address the ongoing labor shortage. I was impressed with the competitive cost, quality training, and speed at which they train Nebraskans to succeed in good jobs - further proof you don’t need an expensive four-year degree to excel in our economy.

Alongside the strong job market, tax reform is helping Americans across the country. Under our new tax code, a single mother with two children doesn’t owe a nickel in federal income tax until she earns more than $53,000, and the typical family of four earning $75,000 will save $2,000 in taxes annually. The worst thing we can do for middle class families is to take more of what they earn through higher taxes.

Raising Social Security taxes, as Ways and Means Democrats have already proposed, won’t help single moms to get ahead. Increasing the gas tax or raising income taxes as part of a Green New Deal won’t help stretch paychecks any further. Repealing corporate tax reform - an initiative even President Obama supported and included in his annual budget - won’t help to create new jobs. 

Tax reform shouldn’t be a once-every-thirty-years event. We should instead work every year to ensure the tax code is working well for as many Americans as possible. Any changes to the tax code should help Americans help themselves, rather than collecting more money so we can grow government on the backs of hard-working Americans. This is the message I bring to Washington, and to the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures.