8/01/2017 — 

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is urging the Trump Administration and Senate leadership to take a transparent, bipartisan approach to rewriting the tax code.  Reed joined with forty-four Senate colleagues in sending a letter outlining key priorities for tax reform legislation that prioritizes working families over the wealthiest one percent and special interests.   

“Tax reform is long overdue, and if Congress works together, we can lower taxes for working families and spur economic growth and domestic job creation, in a smart, fiscally-responsible manner.  Economists across the political spectrum agree that we should be focused on crafting a tax system that boosts productivity, spurs job and wage growth, and addresses the unprecedented income inequality in this country today.  We can accomplish these goals by sticking to the principles that my colleagues and I outlined here,” said Senator Reed.

“I am hopeful that Republicans will see the benefits of bipartisan cooperation and not try to power a bill through along partisan lines.   We need to get rid of special interest loopholes that shift jobs overseas.  The very wealthy are doing just fine, if we are going to expend $1 trillion in tax cuts, those benefits should go to working families.  Democrats are committed to cutting taxes for middle-class families and Main Street businesses that are the heart and soul of our economy,” Reed continued.  “The American people will be better served if Congress can work together in a transparent way and pass a bill that can attract sixty votes, as we have in the past.”

In the letter to President Trump and Republican Senate leaders, Senate Democrats outlined three key policy priorities: the legislation must provide tax relief for middle-class families without new giveaways for the richest one percent; the tax changes must be fiscally responsible and not endanger critical programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security; and a return to “regular order” that includes public hearings and precludes the use of “budget reconciliation” rules that Republicans unsuccessfully attempted to use to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“We are writing to express our interest in working with you on bipartisan tax reform,” wrote the 45 Senators, who noted:  “We are confident that, by working together, we could modernize our tax system to increase working families’ wages, improve middle-class job growth, promote domestic investment, modernize our outdated business and international tax system and put in place sound fiscal policy.” 

The Senators also wrote: “We believe it is crucial that tax reform legislation go through regular order and not reconciliation.  Using a fast-track process like reconciliation would undoubtedly result in outsized political influence on the process and significantly hinder lawmakers’ ability to close loopholes and end special interest favoritism that plagues our current tax system.”

In addition to Reed, the letter was signed by Senators Charles E. SchumerRichard J. DurbinRon WydenPatrick J. LeahyDianne FeinsteinPatty MurrayBill NelsonThomas R. CarperDebbie StabenowMaria Cantwell;  Robert MenendezBen CardinBernard SandersSherrod BrownRobert P. Casey, Jr.; Claire McCaskillAmy KlobucharSheldon WhitehouseJon TesterTom UdallJeanne ShaheenMark R. WarnerJeff MerkleyMichael F. BennetKirsten GillibrandAl FrankenChristopher A. CoonsRichard BlumenthalBrian SchatzTammy BaldwinChristopher MurphyMazie K. HironoMartin HeinrichAngus S. King, Jr.Tim KaineElizabeth WarrenEdward J. MarkeyCory A. BookerGary C. PetersChris Van Hollen; Tammy DuckworthMaggie HassanKamala D. Harris; and Catherine Cortez Masto.   

Text of the letter follows:

August 1, 2017

Dear President Trump, Leader McConnell, and Chairman Hatch:

We are writing to express our interest in working with you on bipartisan tax reform.  We are confident that, by working together, we could modernize our tax system to increase working families’ wages, improve middle-class job growth, promote domestic investment, modernize our outdated business and international tax systems and put in place sound fiscal policy that raises the revenue needed to meet the needs of our country.

This letter highlights three key principles that we believe are prerequisites to any bipartisan tax reform effort.

First, we believe that tax reform should not increase the tax burden on the middle class.  In addition, any reform effort should not benefit the wealthiest individuals, who have already seen outsized benefits from recent economic gains while working-class wages have remained stagnant.  Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed support for this principle when he stated before the Finance Committee that there would be “no absolute tax cut for the upper class.” We hope you agree. Tax reform cannot be a cover story for delivering tax cuts to the wealthiest.  We will not support any tax reform plan that includes tax cuts for the top one percent.  

Second, we believe it is crucial that tax reform legislation go through regular order and not reconciliation.  Using a fast-track process like reconciliation would undoubtedly result in outsized political influence on the process and significantly hinder lawmakers’ ability to close loopholes and end special interest favoritism that plagues our current tax system. As such, reconciliation is just a tool to jam through partisan short-term tax cuts that would result in economic uncertainty and instability and significantly increase our budget deficit. This stands in stark contrast to the regular order, transparent, and fiscally responsible process that allowed the 1986 tax reform to succeed and endure.  Only regular order allows for a bipartisan effort and successful, lasting reform.

Third, tax reform should be focused on providing a revenue base that meets the needs of our country.  Deep cuts to our corporate, individual, and other tax rates are very costly.  We will not support any effort to pass deficit-financed tax cuts, which would endanger critical programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other public investments in the future.

We look forward to working together to write tax reform legislation that provides real relief for America’s working families.