Tax re­form

The Dominion Post - - Opinion -

Repub­li­cans in Wash­ing­ton are go­ing full speed ahead on tax re­form leg­is­la­tion. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plan would ‘‘ig­nite Amer­ica’s mid­dle class mir­a­cle once again’’. House Speaker Paul Ryan says the bill should be on Trump’s desk by the end of the year.

There’s just one prob­lem: At the mo­ment, no such tax re­form bill ex­ists. House Repub­li­cans plan to in­tro­duce one on Wed­nes­day, then push it through in a cou­ple of weeks. By com­par­i­son, the last ma­jor over­haul, in 1986, took more than a year from the point an ac­tual bill was pre­sented. Ul­ti­mately, Congress passed the mea­sure with large and bi­par­ti­san mar­gins.

This time around Repub­li­cans have been urg­ing swift ac­tion on . . . a nine-page ‘‘frame­work’’. This out­line calls for re­duc­ing the cor­po­rate in­come tax rate from 35 per cent to 20 per cent, while low­er­ing and con­sol­i­dat­ing the num­ber of in­di­vid­ual rates from seven to three. With­out de­tails, it’s hard to have any kind of mean­ing­ful de­bate.

In­stead, key Repub­li­cans and Trump of­fi­cials have been shop­ping around ideas be­hind closed doors. Closed-door ne­go­ti­a­tions fol­lowed by an ex­tremely trun­cated pub­lic de­bate is no way to pro­ceed. An over­haul is badly needed. But it de­serves to be de­bated thor­oughly and pub­licly, not rammed through amid a frenzy of se­cre­tive lob­by­ing and deal-mak­ing.

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