Cooper: Give tax reform a chance

Cooper: Give tax reform a chance

September 29th, 2017 by Clint Cooper in Opinion Free Press

A Volunteer Income Tax Assistance preparer works with a client on his income tax return at the Urban League.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

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If things were as they should be, Wednesday's tax reform proposal by President Donald Trump would be subject to a certain amount of posturing before the Republican and Democratic parties actually put their heads together and got down to work.

Trump and Republicans in a compromise deal wouldn't get everything they wanted, and Democrats — currently without a power base in Washington, except the media — wouldn't get everything they wanted, either.

The country needs tax reform. Certainly, the time is ripe for a simpler form to use and for middle-class tax relief. About 45 percent of American households already pay no federal individual income tax, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Trump also has made corporate tax reduction central to the plan. The United States currently has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. It's 35 percent here, but about 20 percent in most other countries. The president would like ours to be 15 percent.

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For those who know nothing about corporate taxes, it's fairly simple to understand that our rate puts us at a global disadvantage.

The president's proposal reduces individual income tax to three brackets, 35, 25 and 12 percent, but doesn't yet specify the amounts of income within those brackets. It also doubles the standard deduction, which is in itself a cut for some low- and middle-income Americans.

In return, in an effort to simplify the tax code, the proposal removes almost all tax deductions except the mortgage interest and charitable contribution deductions.

There's a lot to like in the plan.

On the other hand, there's no reason to stand up and cheer or throw up roadblocks. What's proposed is never what results after the sausage-making is done. If the sausage-making even gets done.

It won't be easy.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said Wednesday that getting tax reform done will be more difficult than getting health care reform done. And we all know how that turned out.

Nevertheless, Republicans seem more unified about the proposal's prospects than they ever did about health care.

Which brings us to the Democrats. As we said at the outset, if things were as they should be, both parties would give a little in order to accomplish something for the American people.

But that's not who the Democrats are at the moment. Embarrassed over their upset loss of the presidency last November, they have made it their job to oppose everything Trump has proposed. Their leaders already have declared the tax reform plan dead. Without negotiation. Without compromise. Without regard to what the American people want.

Principles above personalities. We'd like to see a return to that.

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