After a nearly six-week recess, Congress returned this week for a brief lame-duck session to wrap up final legislative items on its plate before adjourning for the year. The top priority will be to pass a government funding bill, although whether to do so through an omnibus spending bill or yet another continuing resolution remains up in the air. The inclination appears to favor the latter, expedient course. If that is the case, lawmakers would do well to listen to Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) and keep such a continuing resolution “as clean as possible.”
Talk has been heard of extending various renewable energy tax credits left out of last December’s $680 million revenue package. Doing so simply would open up a Pandora’s Box, with members debating over an untold number of other expiring tax provisions. That discussion has its place, but it’s not with a funding bill that must pass to avoid a government shutdown; it belongs in the context of comprehensive tax reform.
Momentum grew throughout this election cycle to at long last fix our complex tax code that burdens individuals and businesses alike, not to mention the nation’s economy. Now with a President-elect Trump and Republicans controlling both the Senate and House, it appears almost certain that tax reform will happen in 2017—and likely will be a priority for the Trump White House and the congressional leadership.
Indeed, post-election, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) has announced his intention to move tax reform legislation within the new administration’s first 100 days, telling the Wall Street Journal that he’s “confident that this blueprint will grow the economy significantly, simplify the tax code for families and lower their tax burden and bust up the IRS, redesign[ing] it so it’s focused on customer service.”
Earlier this spring, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Chairman Brady introduced that blueprint—“A Better Way for Tax Reform”—which would consolidate the individual income tax brackets down to three, with the top tax rate at 33 percent, and lower the sky-high corporate tax rate to 20 percent. President-elect Trump’s tax reform plan has much in common with that of Speaker Ryan and Chairman Brady, although his lowers the top corporate tax rate all the way down to 15 percent.