by Matt Sanctis, Springfield News-Sun
A proposed tax reform package that could be before the Senate as early as this week has a good chance of passing, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan told a group of Champaign County business leaders on Monday.
Republicans have argued the tax plan would benefit families and businesses by increasing the standard deduction and child tax credit and cutting corporate tax rates. Democrats have criticized the proposed tax legislation as a giveaway to the rich.
“I do feel cautiously optimistic we’ll get tax reform legislation done before the end of the year,” Jordan, R-Urbana, said.
A recent report released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the tax bill would add about $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said during testimony on the bill that the beneficiaries are the same corporations that have been rewarded for sending American jobs overseas.
“If you want to cut taxes for the middle class, why don’t you cut taxes for the middle class?” Brown said.
Jordan countered it would lead to economic growth to make up for some of those losses, although he argued spending cuts and welfare reform also should be required in subsequent legislation.
“We’ve got to get to 4 or 4.5 (percent) to be able to grow at a rate that can allow us to deal with a $20 trillion debt,” Jordan said of economic growth. “If you get growth moving in the right direction, then you’ve got to cut spending.”
Several business officials who attended the meeting asked about various issues, including raising concerns about a lack of available workforce.
Jordan also pushed for welfare reform, which he argued should include work requirements for able-bodied adults. Last year, Jordan proposed legislationthat would require able-bodied adults without dependents to work at least 80 hours per month, or take part in vocational training to continue to receive benefits. It included more lenient requirements for families with children.
“When you require something for the benefit, what happens is a lot of people will forego the benefit and just get a job,” Jordan said.
The Senate version of the tax reform bill includes a provision that would eliminate the requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance, which Jordan said should have been included in the House version of the bill.
He argued Republicans made a mistake by trying to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, at the same time. Instead, he argued a simple repeal would have forced Democrats to the bargaining table.
“It was just poor strategy,” Jordan said of Republican efforts to repeal the ACA. “That’s why we advocated a two-bill strategy.”
Brown has argued including a repeal of the individual mandate in the tax reform package would cause millions of Americans to lose health insurance.
“Tax reform should be about cutting taxes for working families, not raising the cost of their health insurance,” Brown said. “It’s outrageous that senators, whose own health care is paid for by American taxpayers, would try to take health care away from working families in order to cut taxes on corporations that send jobs overseas.”
Some local business officials who attended the meeting said in general, the tax reform bill would provide some benefits to local manufacturing firms.
Mark Hunter, controller at Weidmann Electrical Technology in Urbana, said the corporate tax cuts might not translate directly into higher wages for employers. But he said cutting the corporate tax rate would allow the company to increase its capital spending, and likely expand and hire more employees.
“The wages are going to go up because competition is driving it up,” Hunter said. “We try to do whatever we can to maintain our current workforce.”
By Christopher Selmek, Urbana Daily Citizen- firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) spoke to the Champaign County Manufacturing Human Resources Council at Urbana University on Monday. He spent about a half hour answering questions from the group of about 20 business representatives. Jordan talked about politics in Washington, D.C., but also addressed audience concerns about federal debt, health care and education.
“Lots of things voters hate about Washington, but the two at the top of the list are when politicians say one thing at election time and get in office and do something else,” Jordan said. “It drives them crazy and it should. We’ve seen way too much of that. We make the job way too complicated and it should be pretty basic: what’d you tell the voters you were going to do when you ran for the job, they elected you, now go do what you said. Keep your promise.
“The second thing that also drives voters crazy is when they perceive that there are two standards: one set of rules for regular Americans, and a different set of rules if you are part of the political-connected class,” he continued. “That drives them crazy, and it should, because it goes right to the heart of what our country is about. It’s supposed to be equal treatment under the law regardless of station, regardless of status, regardless of type. But unfortunately we’re not seeing that, so I spend a fair amount of my time as your member of Congress on that issue: trying to hold people accountable who I think have done something wrong, and trying to get answers to questions that my constituents come up and ask me all the time.”
Jordan asked a series of questions about the Clinton campaign during the summer of 2016, including why FBI Director James Comey called the Clinton investigation a matter and not an investigation, and why Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with Bill Clinton on the tarmac in Phoenix.
Near the end of the meeting, he also said that he enjoys working with President Donald Trump.
“Whatever you may think about the president, I like the guy,” he said. “I wish every single American – all 333 million of us – could get a chance to visit with him in person, because if you could you would like the guy. He has a charisma and energy about him that is unbelievable. You can tell when you’re around him he genuinely cares; he cares about our military, our law enforcement, our business owners. He does. And you may not always agree with some of his tactics, but I think he is genuinely trying to improve the country and move it in the right direction.”
Jordan told the Urbana Daily Citizen there has been zero evidence that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to affect the election, although it may be obvious they did attempt to impact the election.
Jordan said he is concerned with the end of year spending bill, which he said will be too high. He added Democrats may try to attach an immigration bill, which he said would be disastrous. He said he was cautiously optimistic that Congress would pass a tax bill by the end of the calendar year and that it would be good for manufacturing.
Possible tax cut
“Revenue neutrality is Washington saying we’re going to keep the tax burden the same, we’re just going to shift around who pays what,” he said. “In that zero-sum game scenario, what always happens is the big corporate interests get a good deal, and middle class families get a bad deal, so it’s just a bad idea. Plus, it starts on the premise that somehow letting you keep your money is a cost to government. I just never adopted that premise; my premise is letting you keep more of your money is called freedom.”
Jordan called for a tax reform bill that cuts taxes, simplifies the tax code and promotes economic growth. He said there will be stronger growth under Trump.
He was critical of the Affordable Care Act and said that health care was the one place where politicians had forgotten what the marketplace looks like. He said the ACA was based on a lie, but that the process of repealing and replacing the ACA involved a lot of compromise between parties.
“Never forget what we were all told as Americans when this thing passed,” he said. “I call them the nine lies of Obamacare: ‘like your plan, keep your plan,’ ‘like your doctor, keep your doctor,’ ‘premiums are going to decline,’ the president told us premiums will decline $2,500, the president told us deductibles will go down. Remember when they told us the website was going to work? They told us at one time our information was secure. Then they told us these co-ops they created – they created 23 co-ops that only started three years ago – and only four are still in business … and then finally they told us that emergency room visits would also decline. So everything they told us was a lie.”
He suggested reforming welfare to give people a greater incentive to get back to work, and that federally-qualified health clinics in almost every community were still available for people to get health screenings.
Also on this visit, Jordan spoke to the Urbana’s Rotary Club and took a tour of Sarica Manufacturing and the Hall Company. He will next visit Urbana for a tour with some private business owners on Dec. 15.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304.
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