Rep. Brat: Tax Reform Must Be Priority Number One
By: GREG COROMBOS
Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are pushing party leaders to speed up work on major legislative priorities and stay committed to their campaign promises, but one key member says the effort should begin with tax reform and not Obamacare.
As the first 100 days of the Trump administration tick by, conservative lawmakers are urging leaders in the House and Senate to get going on their vows to repeal and replace the Obama health care law and jump-start the economy with significant tax reform.
Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., shot to conservative stardom when he toppled then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 congressional primary. A former college economics professor, Brat told WND and Radio America getting tax reform done first and done right are at the top of his priority list.
He said news that top Republicans plan to address health care and infrastructure before the tax code is a mistake.
"That is hugely concerning. I taught economics for 20 years. That is piece No. 1, without which I can't vote for anything else," Brat said.
Specifically, Brat wants to see a major reduction in the corporate income tax rate and immediate expensing for business. He said that is the key to getting the economic engine humming. He said experts who helped to craft the 1981 Reagan tax cuts, such as Arthur Laffer, see those provisions as the keys to explosive growth, wage growth and job creation.
"He said that is consistent with eight percent wage growth, four percent GDP growth for the country and eight percent wage growth for a country that has not seen the average guy have their wages increase for 30 years," Brat explained.
He said getting that right will set the stage for everything else.
"If we don't get that piece, we will not be able to afford any of the rest of it," he said. "That has to come first. It's got to be in writing. It's got to be in stone, or I can't go along with the rest of it."
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va.:
As for Obamacare, conservatives have two growing concerns: moving more quickly to advance legislation and pushing hard against some GOP leaders who now seem willing to work within the framework of Obamacare rather than to repeal it in full.
Brat said part of the current delay on legislation is due to the Senate slow-playing the confirmation of Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to be the next secretary of Health and Human Services. The congressman said President Trump has made it clear that is the key to revving up the reform effort.
"A few weeks ago, he said, 'Look, once Price is in that slot, then we're going to move at lightning speed.' So I think that's what you can realistically hope for. Once Price [is confirmed], boom, the plan comes out and we run with it. I think it's going to be surprisingly good," Brat said.
"I don't think it will be perfect. I'm not a big fan of tax credits because you can bid those up forever," he said. "But it will not be Obama-lite, from what I'm hearing."
An aggressive approach in the House, however, may run into hesitation from Senate Republicans, who seem more willing to work within the existing framework of Obamacare.
"The Senate has made it clear they're OK with tweaking Obamacare and repairing the existing broken system. I obviously think that's the wrong way," Brat said.
He said Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., is coming to rally the GOP members to stand strong on campaign promises to repeal and replace Obamacare.
"[Walker] says, 'Once you start reform, you can't backtrack. Once you take out one leg of the stool, which we already have done - Trump has already done some of the repeal by regulatory fiat. Once we start down that road, we've got to conclude it,'" Brat said. "I think (House Speaker) Paul Ryan is going to to come out and make that clear in the next few days."
Brat said the tinkering approach cannot work. He pointed out that the typical family on just a bronze plan is saddled with a $12,000 deductible just to get access to the health care system. As a result, he said it's putting even greater financial pressure on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans programs, which are now headed toward insolvency faster and faster.
The congressman said the current system bends the cost curve up by 20 percent for Americans. He said the only responsible approach is to bend the cost curve to zero to spare those programs and give younger Americans a fighting chance of actually seeing some of those benefits.
"We're growing (the cost curve) at 20 percent now. Bending the cost curve down doesn't mean you grow at 10 percent or five percent. It means you shrink the cost of health care to zero. That's what you've got to do just to maintain balance. That doesn't reduce costs. That just keeps them from growing more in the out years," Brat said. "So we've got some heavy lifting to do."Donald Trump, Jobs, Economy, Big Government, Business, Dave Brat, Donald Trump , Tax Reform