Delegation positions illustrate national debate
That North Dakota’s two senators have diametrically opposite views of the Republican tax plan in Washington should come as no surprise. Despite her occasional siding with the GOP on relatively small issues of specific importance to North Dakota special interests, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is a reliable vote for the Democrat party line. Meanwhile, Sen. John Hoeven rarely deviates from the Republican party line.
The proposed tax cut is exactly the kind of thing that emphasizes partisan differences, even if they are entirely rhetorical and/or designed for political gain and not for actually serving the public interest. Tax bills often illustrate everything that is wrong with the federal government.
The proposal includes the first real tax “reform” in years – that is, more than just tax cuts. It also includes things beloved by Republicans: breaks for small businesses, an increase in the personal deduction for the working/middle class, breaks for companies repatriating billions of dollars currently housed overseas, and numerous incentives for businesses to spend and invest in domestic expansion. It doubles the Child Tax Credit and retains deductions for state and local property tax up to $10,000 for individuals and families.
Legitimately, it is an easy argument to make that the proposed tax bill benefits those who actually pay the overwhelming majority of taxes in the first place. Oh, it isn’t perfect. The $1.5 trillion anticipated reduction in revenue will only be offset with economic growth, which some claim won’t be high enough to offset the “cost” of the cuts. Of course, none of those experts anticipated the eight percent economic growth that followed Reagan tax reforms or the boom that followed Democrat John F. Kennedy’s massive tax cuts. Republicans are banking on serious growth, which is not unreasonable considering the mood of consumers and the huge explosion in the stock market since the election of President Donald Trump.
Democrat arguments against tax reform are specious at their core, in addition to rhetorically emerging from central casting. Democrats claim no one has had time to read the bill and that the tax plan adds to the deficit. Democrats have no foot to stand on here. They hailed passing a healthcare plan – now a dismal failure – that they did not read. And it is cause to mirth for the left to consider the cost of anything government does since it has been decades since they even recognized that the nation has a problem with debt and deficit.
Furthermore, the chief leftist argument against any tax reform is that they disproportionately benefit “the rich.” This has always been a disengenuous argument, because “the rich” pay the majority of taxes. How can the government cut taxes – which are paid largely by “the rich” – without it benefiting those people who pay the majority of taxes in the first place? Guess what? Small businesses and successful people fund the government; not people who have made the life decision to work for minimum wage.
Clouding the matter is the national election map, which clearly shows that the wealthiest sections of the country are also the most Democratic. So, who are we to believe about the potential benefits of tax reform – 40-something Red or Red-leaning electorates of coastal communities of wealthier folks who purport to be smarter and thus know what’s good for the majority of American states?
Finally, many people are simply tired of being offered tax cuts only to then be characterized as the “rich” by wealthy politicians.
There are numerous imperfections with the current plan. Sun-setting individual middle-class breaks in a decade is bad politics and bad policies. Of course, if economic growth is anything like that following the Reagan tax cuts, few would care or notice. But the truth is, every change in the tax code has risks. Meanwhile, the status quo doesn’t seem to be doing the job either.
Leadership requires bold moves and requires the rejection of tired rhetoric. It doesn’t happen often in Washington D.C. It’s little wonder that North Dakota’s senators are on opposite side of the issue. What is a surprise is to see substantive change come out of D.C. at all – substantive change well worth consideration.