Weekly Column: Working Hard For Idahoans As Finance Committee Ranking Member--Tax Policy Focus
Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
Serving on the Senate Finance Committee has given me the opportunity to help make a positive difference in shaping important policy affecting the lives of Idahoans and all Americans. The Committee’s extensive jurisdiction includes federal tax policy; federal social safety net and health care programs; and implementation of reciprocal foreign trade agreements. I always look for opportunities to simplify our tax code, create jobs and help Idahoans save for retirement. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered rates for American workers and businesses, and spurred record growth and low unemployment. It is concerning that, at the onset of this new Congress, our country may be heading in a direction that will result in higher taxes, fewer jobs and a record deficit. As the lead Republican on the Finance Committee, I will work to protect and build off the successes of the 2017 tax reform law and promote other economic recovery efforts.
Economic Recovery—In the last year, Congress and the Administration took extraordinary, bipartisan actions to provide important targeted assistance to families, businesses and the unemployed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is disappointing that the new Senate Majority has decided to move forward with a budget resolution to quickly pass proposals that have failed to garner broad bipartisan support in the past, instead of focusing on policies that will boost vaccine distribution and help get people back to work and our kids safely back to school. However, the Finance Committee should continue to explore additional, bipartisan opportunities to provide necessary assistance to those who continue to struggle, while looking to build on the strong pro-growth fiscal policy infrastructure already in place to further economic recovery.
Tax Reform Oversight—In 2017, Congress enacted comprehensive, pro-growth reform of our tax code for the first time in more than 30 years. Many of the final implementation regulations were released in 2020. I look forward to working with my colleagues to conduct extensive oversight of the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, to rigorously analyze data, and where necessary, propose and consider ways to refine any provisions that may not be having the effect originally intended by Congress. We should also look to preserve and further strengthen those having important pro-growth effects.
Tax Extenders—At the end of the 116th Congress, congressional tax writers came together in a bipartisan way to make important progress in addressing the regular exercise of enacting tax policies on a temporary basis. This included the enactment of the Crapo/Wyden proposal to make permanent the short line railroad maintenance tax credit. A number of other important provisions received either permanent extensions or multi-year extensions, leaving fewer provisions than ever to take the traditional route of receiving only a one-year extension. While there have been many calls to put an end to the annual “tax extenders” exercise, and instead provide important certainty in the tax code, certainty remains unachieved for many of these items. With little exception, many of these provisions enjoy bipartisan support in Congress. We should undertake a process to recognize the bipartisan support of these provisions, to extend indefinitely those provisions found worthy of extension and to allow all others to remain expired.
Retirement—Saving for retirement is important but often difficult, especially when faced with the increased uncertainty of the pandemic. In the last Congress, members of the Committee found common ground in the area of retirement savings, and Congress passed and the President signed into law the bipartisan Setting Every Community up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019. The SECURE Act improves conditions for retirement by providing enhanced investment benefits and allowing retirement portfolios to increase in value, as market conditions continue to improve. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), who have a long history of cooperative work on retirement savings efforts, developed many new retirement savings proposals to follow up on the success of the SECURE Act, and I look forward to exploring these proposals in the 117th Congress.