House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, put his stamp on tax reform as a member of the so-called Big Six who released their framework Wednesday. A day later, Brady spoke at The Heritage Foundation about the urgent need for tax reform. Afterward, we spoke at the key elements of the proposal and the likelihood of success. A transcript of the interview is below.
Rob Bluey: Welcome to The Daily Signal’s Facebook Live. I’m Rob Bluey, your editor-in-chief, and today we’re joined by Congressman Kevin Brady, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He was just here at The Heritage Foundation to deliver a speech on tax reform, an issue that you’ve been working on pretty intensely for a number of years but really here in the last few months and you put out a framework yesterday which is getting a lot of excitement, particularly among those Americans who I think are finally sensing there may be some relief coming from Washington when it comes to taxes. Tell us what’s in the framework.
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas: Yeah, Rob, look, this is an important week for Americans who’ve waited 31 years for Congress to act to fix this broken tax code. And here you have the president of the United States unified with House and Senate Republicans on a big bold tax reform plan and a commitment to deliver it to the American people this year. So imagine nine out of 10 Americans being able to file their taxes on a simple postcard-style system and saving money at every income level. Imagine a 40 percent cut in what our local businesses pay in taxes so they can invest more in the community and their workers and a redesign to the system so our American companies can compete and win anywhere in the world. So better jobs, more jobs, bigger paychecks, a fair tax system. That’s what we’re fighting for.
Bluey: Let’s talk about a couple of the components to it. So you double the standard deduction. What does that mean for the average family or individual?
Brady: Yes, so we want to protect more of the first dollars that every family earns. So really important for young people just starting out, for middle-class families with kids like us that are pinching every penny. Or even retirees, us protecting more from that taxation just like President [Ronald] Reagan did. We think this is incredibly important for families to reach their American dream.
Bluey: So one of the myths that we’ve already heard you mentioned this in your speech, Democrats and the liberal media are already saying about the different tax brackets so tell us what it means reducing the number of brackets and what it means to those on the low-income side.
Brady: It’s really important and helpful to them. So we flatten out the tax code from seven to three. We make it simpler, we lower the taxes at every level. Really important. So, for example, the 15 percent bracket goes down to 12 percent. The 10 percent bracket today goes to zero. Just like President Reagan did. Then doubling that standard deduction allows, especially very modest-income and middle-income families, really keep more of what they earn.
Bluey: And as you noted this is something that you had people like Joe Biden, Al Gore, John Kerry support back in the 1980s. Now on the corporate side, our colleague Adam Michel at The Heritage Foundation has argued that really the cut in the corporate rate ultimately benefits the American workers. What does that mean for both businesses and workers?
Brady: A couple key things. One, it keeps those jobs here in America. Right now we are still bleeding. A lot of jobs, research, manufacturing, headquarters overseas. Our goal is not just to stop that but to create that sucking sound back into the United States. So incredibly important there. But you know what it does, it grows productivity, paychecks, and you have a stronger economy so at the end of the day we want local businesses to send less money to Washington so they can invest more in their workers, their business, we think in their success.
Bluey: President [Donald] Trump was in Indiana, he’s gone to North Dakota, he’s taking Democrats with him, they’ve been on the stage … Do you think that this proposal is something that will attract bipartisan support? Should it attract bipartisan support?
Brady: It should. And I hope it does. I’m still hopeful there are Kennedy Democrats who cut taxes, frankly, helped grow the economy in a good way because look: Democrat communities? They’re seeing the same companies leave America as we are. Their young people can’t find good-paying jobs either. They have a big stake in this.
So we’ve in the House, we’ve reached out over the past year to our centrist Democrats, asking: “What’s important to you?” And what they tell us is, “Strong middle-class tax cuts.” So do we. They want to give those jobs back to Americans. So do we. They want to balance within the budget, help us toward a balanced budget over time. So do we. We think getting the economy going can do that. So, I don’t know at the end of the day, you know, what type of support in the final bill, but look, if they’re serious about growing this economy, we’re serious about working with them.
Bluey: So many in our audience complain about the Senate. You get things through the House—you did it with Obamacare—even Speaker [Paul] Ryan was lamenting the lack of …
Bluey: How are you going to get tax reform across the finish line?
Brady: So I think this is important. What we didn’t have in health care was the president, the White House, the House and the Senate on the same page early on. This is different here. Secondly, you’ve got a president leading throughout this country. Look, Obamacare … the country is divided over whether it helps or hurts, I believe it hurts. But no one’s defending this current tax code.
Bluey: That’s true.
Brady: In my district, around the country, I’ve had no one say, “Woo-hoo! Let’s have more of this complex, costly, loophole-driven tax code.” So I see senators who can weigh in and really help drive this tax reform. It’s starting with a unified agreement on where we ought to go. Hugely helpful.
Bluey: Right. Where does the audience go if they want to learn more about the plan, and get more details about what’s coming next?
Brady: Yeah. So we’ve set up a website: fairandsimple.gop. You can go there, you can look at the rates, you can look at how, as a small business, there’s about six big wins for small businesses in this. You can look at how the postcard works, a simple and fair postcard, what’s on there, so important to families like mortgage interests and charitable contributions. We want people to give more to local charities, or a cause they believe in. And then weigh in; look at that, tell us what you’re thinking. We think it’s important. At the end of the day, Rob, this isn’t our tax code. It belongs to the American people, and they’ve got to have a say. First time in their life, they’ve got to have a say in how they’re taxed. So we’re listening.
Bluey: Yeah, 31 years.
Brady: It’s about time.
Bluey: Right. Chairman Brady, thanks so much for joining us at The Daily Signal, we appreciate it. Please subscribe to our videos on Facebook, and you’ll be notified the next time we go live. For The Daily Signal, I’m Rob Bluey. We’ll see you next time.