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Koch Adviser: How Trump and Congress Can Manage An Aggressive Agenda

4 minute read
Davis is the executive vice president for marketing and communications at Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and Spokesman for the Seminar Network

It’s no secret the American people have lost faith in the ability of Washington lawmakers to enact policies that help people improve their lives. Many voters believed Donald Trump could change that. Despite some setbacks, there remains significant opportunity for the president, working with Congress, to end the gridlock and enact reforms that will help hardworking families across the country. While they work on a plan to repeal Obamacare and repair healthcare overall, they can advance other priorities.

The most immediate opportunity — and a top priority for our network — is confirming a principled Supreme Court justice to replace Antonin Scalia. President Trump couldn’t have made a finer nomination than he did in Judge Neil Gorsuch. Emerging from his Senate confirmation hearings last week in an even stronger position than he went in, Judge Gorsuch should be confirmed without any unnecessary delay.

Congress should then shift its focus to enacting policies that will help people to improve their lives. There’s no better place to start than comprehensive tax reform.

The goal of the federal tax code should be to raise enough revenues to fund the proper roles of government. That’s it. Yet in recent decades, lawmakers have used the code to reward special interests and campaign donors, and to give politically-favored industries unfair advantages over the competition. The American people know this and they feel it: A poll last year found 71 percent of Americans believe the U.S. economic system is “rigged in favor of certain groups.”

President Trump and Speaker Ryan have put forward ideas that will grow the economy, create more opportunity for working families, and help people keep more of what they earn.

For starters, their plans to reduce our corporate income tax rate of 35 percent to around 15 to 20 percent would make American businesses more competitive, and keep and create more jobs in the United States. They also want to eliminate most of the special-interest carve outs that have rigged the system against working people. These principles of competition and fairness are ones the American people—and our network—fully support and should be the cornerstone of tax reform legislation. (The one provision that has been mentioned that does not embody these ideals is the border adjustment tax, and this is something our network would not support.)

The American people also agree that federal regulations are holding our economy back—and for good reason: According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington red tape cost our economy nearly $1.9 trillion in 2015. That comes out to around $15,000 per family paid in the form of higher utility bills, higher prices at the store, and lower wages on the job.

President Trump and Congress have already made significant progress in repealing some of the most harmful regulations of recent years, and they shouldn’t let up. Just this week, President Trump signed an executive order that starts to unwind the EPA’s carbon regulations, which will save families hundreds of dollars per year on energy bills and thousands of good-paying jobs. He also listened to the majority of Americans and approved the Keystone XL pipeline. Continuing to roll back unnecessary regulations will help families that are struggling to get by.

And lastly, Congress can improve the lives of millions of veterans who receive healthcare from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nearly three years after the Phoenix VA scandal, very little has changed. It can still take months to schedule doctors’ appointments, and the headlines of negligence and abuse continue rolling in. Even now, it can take years to terminate employees who are found to have engaged in misconduct.

Congress can fix many of these problems by passing the VA Accountability First Act of 2017, which cleared the House earlier this month. The legislation would make it easier to terminate bad employees, claw back bonuses, and improve accountability. This would amount to the most significant civil service reform in decades and send a clear message: Washington is working for the American people, not the other way around.

The Trump administration and Congress have an aggressive policy agenda. Proper management of these issues provide them with an opportunity to unite a broad coalition to support positive changes in Washington. Doing so will help millions of people improve their lives, and open the door for bigger, bolder reforms in the years ahead.

James Davis is the executive vice president for marketing and communications at Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and Spokesman for the Seminar Network.

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