Republicans cleared a major hurdle on the march towards tax reform legislation last week when the House and Senate agreed on a budget bill, but one House member says GOP members have their heads in the sand and are limiting the scope of tax reform by scrapping their own conservative budget for a status quo approach from the Senate.
Rather than head to a House-Senate conference committee, the House agreed to vote on the Senate’s budget bill. It passed 216-212, with 20 Republicans voting against it. One of the them was Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida.
Critics accused Gaetz and the other Republicans opposed to the budget of opposing tax cuts. Gaetz says the explanation for his vote is simple.
“While I’m all about getting the economy moving with productive tax cuts, we’ve got to be honest with ourselves about the challenged we face with spending. I’m going to use my position on the budget committee to try to advocate for spending cuts so that wee don’t drive up deficits while we’re working to get the economy moving again,” said Gaetz.
He says the original House budget bill was one he was proud to support.
“The House of Representatives passed a conservative budget that cuts spending by over $200 billion. We actually laid out a plan to accomplish those spending cuts, by ensuring that able-bodied, childless adults, who can choose to work, would actually have to meet a work requirement before getting benefits from the government,” said Gaetz.
He says the Senate wanted no part of that.
“When we sent these conservative ideas over to the United States Senate, unfortunately the Senate did not agree to cut a single nickel in spending. Instead, they merely sent a budget back that kept things the way they were and preserved the status quo,” said Gaetz.
He says that not only kicks the can down the road on fiscal responsibility but chokes off a more aggressive approach to tax reform.
“I was very disappointed that the swamp creatures over in the Senate didn’t have the guts to cut spending. We’re going to keep fighting for spending cuts in the House. I think that’s the way that we get the full value out of tax reform. If businesses in our country have the capital to be able to hire more people, it will all be for naught if we don’t deal with the workforce challenges that incentivize people to stay home,” said Gaetz.
He’s also tired of the House playing second fiddle to a Senate that can’t make good on the GOP agenda.
“I didn’t run for the House of Representatives to come here and be a rubber stamp for the Senate. I think too often in the House, we’re the Senate’s lapdog. Look at health care. We would have passed whatever the Senate passed. Look at the budget. We take whatever the Senate gives us.
“My hope is when we get to tax cuts, we won’t whittle down the value of tax cuts, we won’t fail to deliver on the promises President Trump has made regarding massive tax cuts, just because the Senate cannot do both things,” said Gaetz.
Gaetz is also frustrated with the Senate catering to the whims of the most liberal Republicans who he says ran on the same agenda of cutting spending, repealing Obamacare and cutting taxes only to embrace the status quo once they came back to Washington.
He says tax reform is going to present more hurdles as senators get bombarded by special interests to keep their special provisions in the tax code.
“[Fiscal conservatives} are becoming a bit of an endangered species on Capitol Hill. It’s indicative of the environment we live in, where every special interest wants the government to spend more money because then there’s more room in the trough for their respective snouts,” said Gaetz.
He says the bottom line is lawmakers must stop piling up debt for future generations, a problem he says ought to be blamed on both parties.
“They’re all fighting for more spending in different areas. So we’ve got to have courageous conservatives ready to stand up and say, ‘No more. We are not going to participate in this great wave of generational theft. In the last 15 years, we’ve stolen more than $15 trillion from the next generation. And they’re going to have to pay that back with interest,'” said Gaetz.
He says the mounting debt is also a burden on efforts to jump start the economy.
“The debt is a wet blanket over our economy and there is no amount of tax cuts that will ever allow us to grow to meet the obligations we’ve set forth in the absence of spending cuts,” said Gaetz.