The Laudable Pursuit: Let's Get Tax Reform Done

Senator Mike Lee
2017-09-08 21:00:34
September 8, 2017 "to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life." --Abraham Lincoln Chairman's Note: Let's Get Tax Reform Done There is no way to sugar coat it. The last few months have not been good for the conservative movement. This past summer Congress failed to repeal Obamacare and now Congress has yet again kicked the can down the road on tackling our uncontrolled spending and working to reduce our continually growing debt that is about to reach $20 trillion. But what is done is done, and we must now do our best to salvage the year by passing real tax reform before the year is out. I firmly believe that the best way to build a winning coalition to pass tax reform is to make sure the legislation explicitly and directly helps American working families. And the best way to do that is to expand the tax code's existing child tax credit. All conservatives should support tax relief for working parents because the current code unfairly overtaxes them. I don't mean this in the generic sense that Washington overtaxes everyone. Though that's true, too, of course. Rather, I mean that today, parents raising children are discriminated against and effectively penalized by federal tax policy. This hidden "parent tax penalty" is not as well known as the marriage tax penalty, but it's an even greater challenge to working moms and dads. And I believe conservatives should insist on addressing it in any tax bill this Congress considers. The penalty works like this. Because of how our federal senior entitlement programs are set up, parents pay for them twice. Parents of course pay their payroll taxes, like everyone else does. But then they also contribute again, by bearing the enormous costs of raising their children - who of course grow up to become the next generation of citizens, workers, leaders, and taxpayers on which the whole system depends. Parents alone bear this double burden during the years they're raising their kids. It's not a natural consequence of having children - like sleep deprivation or mowing the lawn in shorts and over-the-calf dress socks. Rather, it's a dysfunctional consequence of poorly written government policy. And so it seems to me that policymakers need to figure out some way to offset that inequity. The current, $1,000 per-child tax credit is a good start. But over 18 years, $18,000 barely makes a dent in the costs of raising a child - which runs to hundreds of thousands of dollars. And so I think it should be bigger. A lot bigger. Two-thousand dollars per child? Twenty-five hundred? Furthermore, because the payroll tax is the real tax burden most middle class families face, the child credit ought to be applicable to payroll taxes, too - not just income taxes. The child credit, thus, does not create an inequity in the tax code; it helps to correct one that already exists. Americans voted for change last November, and frankly we have not delivered so far. But passing tax reform that would return billions of dollars to working families would be a great place to start. Utah Solutions Summit 2017: Congressional Collaboration and Conviction's Role in the Process Click here to watch video Issue in Focus: The Art of Tolerance In July 2012, two men entered the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado and asked the owner of the bakery, Jack Phillips, to custom-design a wedding cake for the pair's same-sex wedding. Phillips offered to sell the couple anything else in the store, even a pre-made cake, but citing his Christian faith Phillips declined to design a special cake just for the couple's wedding. The couple then filed a complaint with Colorado Civil Rights Commission who found that Phillips had violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and ordered Phillips to bake the couple a wedding cake. The Commission further ordered Phillips to go through a "re-education" program and file quarterly "compliance" reports with state showing that his business was following the state's prevailing marriage doctrine. Phillips appealed the Commission's decision to Colorado's Supreme Court and when that court ordered him to bake the cake too, he then appealed to the United States Supreme Court who will hear oral arguments on the case later this year. This week, 85 of my congressional colleagues and I signed an amicus brief supporting Jack Phillips' First Amendment right to freedom of expression. It is a sad commentary on the current state of religious freedom in this country that this case had to go this far. The American colonies were settled by persecuted religious minorities. The Constitution makes clear that America is a meant to be a nation that tolerates and protects differences of opinion. We're supposed to share the public square with people who hold vastly different beliefs about life, not to mention the life to come. It is clear we are going through a period of heightened tension and distrust in this country. But I believe that most Americans still have the maturity-not to mention the neighborly decency-to live side-by-side with people who are different from them. The Supreme Court should reaffirm the basic principle that government is not a legitimate tool to squelch dissent. It cannot force us to speak when we want to remain silent, just as it cannot shut down our speech in the public square. Rather than enforcing conformity, the Court should leave us to work out our differences among ourselves, with peace and charity. Washington, D.C. Office 361A Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C., 20510 Phone: 202.224.5444 Fax: 202.228.1168 Salt Lake City Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building 125 South State, Suite 4225 Salt Lake City, UT 84138 Phone: 801.524.5933 Fax: 801.524.5730 St. George Office of Senator Michael S. Lee 285 West Tabernacle, Suite 200 St. George, UT 84770 Phone: 435.628.5514 SaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSaveSave Save Save Save Save This message was intended for: xxx You were added to the system October 2, 2015. 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September 8, 2017

"to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life." --Abraham Lincoln

Chairman's Note: Let's Get Tax Reform Done

There is no way to sugar coat it. The last few months have not been good for the conservative movement. This past summer Congress failed to repeal Obamacare and now Congress has yet again kicked the can down the road on tackling our uncontrolled spending and working to reduce our continually growing debt that is about to reach $20 trillion.

But what is done is done, and we must now do our best to salvage the year by passing real tax reform before the year is out. 

I firmly believe that the best way to build a winning coalition to pass tax reform is to make sure the legislation explicitly and directly helps American working families. And the best way to do that is to expand the tax code’s existing child tax credit.

All conservatives should support tax relief for working parents because the current code unfairly overtaxes them.

I don’t mean this in the generic sense that Washington overtaxes everyone. Though that’s true, too, of course. 

Rather, I mean that today, parents raising children are discriminated against and effectively penalized by federal tax policy.

This hidden “parent tax penalty” is not as well known as the marriage tax penalty, but it’s an even greater challenge to working moms and dads. And I believe conservatives should insist on addressing it in any tax bill this Congress considers.

The penalty works like this. Because of how our federal senior entitlement programs are set up, parents pay for them twice.

Parents of course pay their payroll taxes, like everyone else does. But then they also contribute again, by bearing the enormous costs of raising their children – who of course grow up to become the next generation of citizens, workers, leaders, and taxpayers on which the whole system depends. 

Parents alone bear this double burden during the years they’re raising their kids. It’s not a natural consequence of having children – like sleep deprivation or mowing the lawn in shorts and over-the-calf dress socks. Rather, it’s a dysfunctional consequence of poorly written government policy.

And so it seems to me that policymakers need to figure out some way to offset that inequity.

The current, $1,000 per-child tax credit is a good start. But over 18 years, $18,000 barely makes a dent in the costs of raising a child – which runs to hundreds of thousands of dollars. And so I think it should be bigger. A lot bigger. Two-thousand dollars per child? Twenty-five hundred? 

Furthermore, because the payroll tax is the real tax burden most middle class families face, the child credit ought to be applicable to payroll taxes, too - not just income taxes.

The child credit, thus, does not create an inequity in the tax code; it helps to correct one that already exists. 

Americans voted for change last November, and frankly we have not delivered so far. But passing tax reform that would return billions of dollars to working families would be a great place to start.

Utah"Solutions Summit 2017: Congressional Collaboration and Conviction's Role in the Process

Click here to watch video

Issue in Focus: The Art of Tolerance  

In July 2012, two men entered the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado and asked the owner of the bakery, Jack Phillips, to custom-design a wedding cake for the pair's same-sex wedding.

Phillips offered to sell the couple anything else in the store, even a pre-made cake, but citing his Christian faith Phillips declined to design a special cake just for the couple’s wedding. 

The couple then filed a complaint with Colorado Civil Rights Commission who found that Phillips had violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and ordered Phillips to bake the couple a wedding cake. The Commission further ordered Phillips to go through a “re-education” program and file quarterly “compliance” reports with state showing that his business was following the state’s prevailing marriage doctrine.

Phillips appealed the Commission’s decision to Colorado’s Supreme Court and when that court ordered him to bake the cake too, he then appealed to the United States Supreme Court who will hear oral arguments on the case later this year.

This week, 85 of my congressional colleagues and I signed an amicus brief supporting Jack Phillips’ First Amendment right to freedom of expression. It is a sad commentary on the current state of religious freedom in this country that this case had to go this far.

The American colonies were settled by persecuted religious minorities. The Constitution makes clear that America is a meant to be a nation that tolerates and protects differences of opinion.

We’re supposed to share the public square with people who hold vastly different beliefs about life, not to mention the life to come. 

It is clear we are going through a period of heightened tension and distrust in this country. But I believe that most Americans still have the maturity—not to mention the neighborly decency—to live side-by-side with people who are different from them.

The Supreme Court should reaffirm the basic principle that government is not a legitimate tool to squelch dissent. It cannot force us to speak when we want to remain silent, just as it cannot shut down our speech in the public square.

Rather than enforcing conformity, the Court should leave us to work out our differences among ourselves, with peace and charity.


Washington, D.C. Office
361A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20510
Phone: 202.224.5444
Fax: 202.228.1168
Salt Lake City
Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building
125 South State, Suite 4225
Salt Lake City, UT 84138
Phone: 801.524.5933
Fax: 801.524.5730
St. George
Office of Senator Michael S. Lee
285 West Tabernacle, Suite 200
St. George, UT 84770
Phone: 435.628.5514



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