Tax reform can move Washington and the economy forward

In walking back yet again from fiscal disaster, Congress has passed a short-term budget extension and a temporary debt limit increase.  The country is able to collectively exhale – crisis has once again been averted.  But in failing to reach long-term solutions to some of our most vexing problems, the American economy suffers and our workers continue to pay the price.

The Ryan-Murray Budget Conference -- headed by Sen. Pattiy Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) -- will be the next group of lawmakers tasked with making the difficult choices that balance our immediate budget issues with positioning the U.S. economy for sustained growth. And as that conference begins their deliberations, it is the hope of globally engaged U.S. businesses – and the tens of millions of American workers they employ – that comprehensive tax reform is seen as a catalyst for bipartisan agreement.

ADVERTISEMENT
Economic and tax experts of both parties have consistently pointed to tax reform as one of the most effective avenues to achieve our growth objectives and help shrink the U.S. budget deficit.  Republicans and Democrats alike, including the numerous bipartisan economic commissions established by President Obama, have affirmed that tax reform – and in particular, reforming how the U.S. taxes foreign earnings of American companies – is critical to helping the U.S regain its economic competitiveness around the globe and right here at home.

For decades, our international trading partners have been retooling their economies and tax policies to help ensure that their companies are well positioned to compete in a changing world.  At the same time, America has stood still.  As a result, our corporate tax rate is the highest in the world and we are the only G8 country to cling to an antiquated international tax system that imposes a toll when our companies seek to return their international earning to the U.S.

Crafting a modern, international tax system has been a key tax reform goal of both Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.). After holding dozens of hearings and meetings in and outside the beltway, they have provided a wealth of information to their colleagues, including the ones selected to take part in the Budget Conference. With a bit of political courage, tax reform could prove to be an opportunity for a polarized Congress to find common ground on an issue of urgent importance to all Americans.

And it is clear that the American people know that our economy is not achieving its full potential – and they’re increasingly frustrated.  They worry that other countries are eating our lunch.  Just 6 years ago, America ranked as the most economically competitive country in the world according to the World Economic Forum; today we rank as the 5th most competitive and this year represents an improvement.

Increasing American competitiveness and spurring economic growth are cornerstones for building a 21st century economy where the next generation has the opportunity to compete and win.  But we can’t excel in the dynamic global marketplace with an international tax code devised in 1962. 

It’s time to tackle long-term growth issues, spur competitiveness and chalk up bipartisan victories for the benefit of all Americans.  Congress has a unique opportunity to accomplish all of these goals by enacting a modern, competitive international tax system in the context of comprehensive tax reform in 2014.

Parker is a former White House Deputy Press Secretary for George W. Bush, and LIFT America spokeswoman.  LIFT America is a coalition of U.S.-headquartered companies and other economic stakeholders that supports modernizing our international tax system to strengthen U.S. competitiveness, increase investment and protect America’s tax base.