Opinion Pieces

Herrera Beutler: Tax bill will help all in S.W. Washington

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Washington, D.C. , December 24, 2017 | comments
It’s been 10 years since the start of the Great Recession where so many Americans lost jobs, savings and even their homes. While Wall Street’s economy may have improved, when I talk to people, I ask them whether they feel “recovered.” Do you make enough money to cover your bills? Is there enough left over to put in savings? Are there other jobs out there offering you better pay? Usually, the answer is “not even close.”
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It’s been 10 years since the start of the Great Recession where so many Americans lost jobs, savings and even their homes. While Wall Street’s economy may have improved, when I talk to people, I ask them whether they feel “recovered.” Do you make enough money to cover your bills? Is there enough left over to put in savings? Are there other jobs out there offering you better pay? Usually, the answer is “not even close.”

Southwest Washington residents deserve a real economic recovery that leaves them with more money in their pockets, bigger paychecks and better job opportunities. Fortunately, Congress just passed a tax cut and jobs bill that will help.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reforms the tax code to allow the average family of four in our region to keep $2,385 more of what they earn. People across all income levels will benefit from this tax relief. Additionally, independent economic entities like the Tax Foundation verify that reforming our broken, overly complex tax code will lead to more jobs and bigger paychecks.

How? By empowering small businesses — which create two out of every three new jobs in Southwest Washington — to grow their operations. The tax bill lowers small-business taxes, specifically incentivizing them to invest in new equipment and skills training. For instance, craft breweries will have their excise tax cut in half. Businesses that make and keep more profits usually expand, and require more workers to help.

Corporate tax reform will help, too. This is hardly a conservative Republican idea; Presidents Clinton and Obama regularly promoted corporate tax cuts, recognizing that the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Liberal countries like Germany and Sweden have recently cut their corporate tax rates to spur economic growth.

Businesses small and big represent jobs and paychecks. When whole industries succeed, they offer better wages to compete for employees.

The final version of the bill we passed this week made several improvements to the original bill to protect hardworking individuals. Homeowners are better protected now that $750,000 in mortgage interest deductions is preserved. We expanded the medical expense deduction. The child tax credit is doubled to $2,000, with $1,400 being refundable. State and local taxes of all types are deductible up to $10,000. And graduate students preparing to begin their careers will have tuition exempted from taxes.

Falsehoods swirling
There were many fighting to maintain the status quo, some attacking this initiative before there was even a bill. Some are more interested in scoring political points than in actual solutions. Others profit from the complex maze of our current, outdated tax code. Whatever the underlying motivation, falsehoods about this bill are swirling. You deserve the truth.

One of the most irresponsible claims is that this bill will cut Social Security or Medicare. These types of attacks seek to create fear among some of our most vulnerable citizens — our seniors. Here are the facts: nothing in this bill touches Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

Congress won’t cut those programs to finance tax cuts. Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a formal statement on Dec. 1 opposing any such cuts and mapping out a strategy to protect Social Security and Medicare. I believe Congress should protect and strengthen these trust funds that people pay into their entire working lives, and would oppose any attempt to weaken them.

Families shouldn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck because true economic recovery never arrived. A decade is too long to have stagnant wages and people stuck in low-paying or part-time jobs when they want to move upward and earn more.

Critics of this tax-cut plan seem to believe that our present “recovery” is good enough, but I don’t accept that. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will help residents of Southwest Washington earn more money and live with the economic security they deserve.
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