December 27, 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: A Tax Cut for
The tax cut bill just passed by
Congress and signed into law by the president is not perfect. But
I voted for it because it will help working families and small
businesses, give almost all Americans an immediate pay raise, and
create millions of new jobs.
But you don't have to take my
word for it. In fact, as citizens, you shouldn't take any
politician's word for it. And happily, you won't have to.
As in any political debate, there
has been a lot of overheated speculation about this bill. Some
Republicans who opposed my work with Sen. Marco Rubio to change
the bill to provide more tax relief directly to working and
middle class said that would destroy the bill and crush its
chances to spur economic growth. The argument was silly.
But so are many of the criticisms
of the bill coming from the left. Some Democrats say the bill
will only cut taxes for businesses, not individuals. That's
false. The centrist Brookings Institute says the bill will reduce
taxes for all income groups in 2018 by an average of $1,600.
Some congressional Democrats
argued this tax rate reduction plan was the worst bill in
American history, apparently forgetting about the Fugitive Slave
Act, or the Alien and Sedition Acts. These criticisms are nuts.
In total, the bill is estimated
to cut some federal taxes by a total of $6.5 trillion over the
next ten years, and raise others by $4 trillion over the same
period, coming out to a $1.5 trillion tax cut. I am not thrilled
about the potential hit to the deficit. But I also believe we
cannot tax our way to a balanced budget. The only way to close
the deficit is with economic growth and spending discipline. With
new jobs, higher wages, and more investment, the larger overall
economic pie will give a bigger slice both to American workers
and to their government.
Over the last two decades, the
United States' 35 percent corporate tax rate has cost us
trillions of dollars in aggregate international investment. The
new 20 percent rate in this bill will help bring more of the
global economy to our shores, instead of having us send so much
of ours overseas.
And of course the doubling of the
standard deduction and child credit will deliver immediate,
substantial tax relief to middle income families.
And the good news is, in a few
weeks we will be able to ignore the political speculation and
rhetoric and just see for ourselves.
Now that the bill is law, the IRS
will begin to implement the new rules, and paycheck withholding
guidelines will change. In another few pay periods, you either
will or won't see a raise in your take-home pay.
Over the course of the next year,
two years, three years, we either will or won't see more "Help
Wanted" signs in business windows. We will or won't see more
listings on job-search websites. We will or won't hear about this
or that business expanding, opening a new branch or a new plant.
The new, $2,000 per-child tax
credit - which Sen. Rubio and I successfully fought to make
available to millions of additional working families - won't make
raising kids easy. But it will make things like diapers, braces,
little league, or piano lessons more affordable again.
I voted for this tax bill because
I believe it will deliver higher take-home pay, more relief for
middle class families, and business tax reform to spur hiring,
wage growth, and investment. Every Democrat in the House and
Senate voted against the bill because they thought it would not
do those things.
In a few weeks, we'll start to
see - in your paychecks, at your office, in your community - who
Issue in Focus: They See You When
It's a Christmas motif almost as
ubiquitous as Christmas trees or sleigh bells - families and
individuals hastily making their way through airports, balancing
presents, bags, and children, excited to make their way home to
spend Christmas with their loved ones. They're concerned with
their flight status, the weather in their destination, their
luggage making it to the destination, or the likelihood they will
get selected for a random TSA pat-down and any other number of
But in 2018, there may be another
worry to add to that already long list of travel woes.
At some point next year, the
Department Homeland Security (DHS) is hoping to implement
mandatory facial scans for all people - American citizens
included - who are flying internationally. In fact, they've
already rolled out this invasive practice in a handful of
airports this holiday season.
This new invasion of Americans'
privacy caught the attention of Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), who's own
Logan International Airport was one of the airports selected for
the rollout. We wrote a letter together to get more information
from DHS about this program.
There are a number of issues with
this program, including that DHS hasn't instituted a way to let
travelers know that they will be subjected to this scan before
But more importantly there is no
evidence to show that this facial scan actually works. DHS is
hoping to use this technology accurately 96% of the time. But
even at that rate 1 of 25 travelers would still be misidentified
and improperly flagged by DHS.
Additional evidence shows gender
and ethnicity increase the likelihood of being improperly
But perhaps the biggest concern
is how the government will use this accumulated data and whether
or not DHS is even allowed to collect it in the first place. As
of now, the information is supposedly only shared with the
National Institute of Standards and Technology to check for
fraud, and then deleted from the DHS database after 14 days. But
in our examination of the program, we have not seen satisfactory
safeguards that protect this information from being accessed by
third party groups or that show these protocols are actually
The Department of Homeland
Security is ushering in this program in an attempt to fulfill a
Congressional mandate that says a biometric exit program needs to
be in place for international travelers. However, they have gone
beyond this directive as the mandate passed by Congress did not
allow for facial scans to be used on American citizens. For DHS
to do this stands in direct conflict with the Constitution and
its 4th Amendment protection of privacy.
Until the Department of Homeland
Security is willing to address these problems and provide myself,
Senator Markey, and Congress sufficient evidence to prove the
program falls within the constraints of its Congressional
mandate, DHS should provide American citizens with a timely
Christmas present - protecting their rights by not only stopping
this programs expansion, but stopping it's use entirely.
361A Russell Senate
Salt Lake City
Wallace F. Bennett
125 South State,
Salt Lake City, UT
Office of Senator
Michael S. Lee
285 West Tabernacle,
St. George, UT 84770
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