“President Obama faces a choice: He can work with Congress to deal with the tough issues, or he can go it alone and cement a legacy of increased polarization, partisanship and lawlessness. There is no doubt that immigration reform and tax reform will be hard, but there is also no doubt that acting the right way will boost our economy, create jobs and – perhaps – begin to rebuild the tattered bonds of trust between the American people and their government.”
August 8, 2014
“For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken’s famous saying sums up exactly the choice that President Obama now faces on immigration and tax reform. On both issues, he should resist the siren song of political expediency and stand up to his political base to do the right thing – even though it will be harder.
The American people’s top priority is getting our economy moving again, and helping the private sector create more jobs. In the House, their top priority is our top priority – which is why we have sent more than 40 jobs bills to the U.S. Senate. By dealing responsibly with both the border crisis and tax reform, the president can join us in listening to the people and acting on their priorities.
We face a terrible humanitarian crisis on our southern border. It was fueled, in part, by a law passed in 2008 that gives more legal protections to migrants from Central America than to those from Mexico or Canada. It was also fueled, in part, by President Obama’s decision to unilaterally rewrite the law and refuse to enforce immigration laws for some individuals. Now, consistent news leaks from the White House suggest the president is poised to repeat that mistake – and make it far worse – by rewriting the law again and dramatically expanding his unilateral action.
That would be a grievous mistake. Immigration is a tough issue, and the situation at the border has made it even more fraught and complex. We need to fix our broken immigration system, but it must be done by Congress, and it must be done in a common-sense, step-by-step fashion so that the American people have a say in what we are doing. We can only succeed if the people understand and support these reforms.
Our tax code, like our immigration system, is badly broken. Because we have the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, American companies have an incentive to relocate their headquarters overseas to lower their tax bill. That costs American jobs.
In 2011, President Obama came close to agreeing to the real solution: broad-based tax reform to weed out wasteful deductions, lower the tax rate, and create more American jobs. The White House backed off then, but House Republicans have continued to work toward those goals. Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp released a discussion draft, which would lower the tax rate for individuals and corporations to a top rate of 25 percent and would modernize the taxation of U.S. companies doing business abroad – like all of our economic competitors. We are continuing to listen to House members – and our constituents – about ways to improve it. If we can reform our tax code, changing it from one that drives American jobs out of the country to one that supports sustained economic growth and brings jobs home, it will go a long way toward resetting the economic foundation of our nation.
Now, President Obama is hinting that he may act unilaterally in an attempt to supposedly reduce or prevent these so-called “tax inversions.” Such a move sounds politically appealing, but anything truly effective would exceed his executive authority. The president cannot simply re-write the tax code himself.
The right choice is harder. President Obama must get his allies on Capitol Hill to do their job. Senate Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, pay lip service to tax reform, but they have utterly failed to act. The president, the leader of his party, must actually lead it.
President Obama faces a choice: He can work with Congress to deal with the tough issues, or he can go it alone and cement a legacy of increased polarization, partisanship and lawlessness. There is no doubt that immigration reform and tax reform will be hard, but there is also no doubt that acting the right way will boost our economy, create jobs and – perhaps – begin to rebuild the tattered bonds of trust between the American people and their government.