Tax reform badly needed

Without action, tax rates will rise across the board in 2013. Americans understand the warnings of economists that the impending “fiscal cliff” will cripple our already fragile economy. In response, President Obama and congressional Democrats insist that the only way to thwart this disaster is to raise taxes on America’s small businesses and job creators.

It did not have to be this way. Since taking control of the House in January 2011, Republicans have governed responsibly to avert this crisis. In fact, both budgets passed by the U.S. House of Representatives significantly reform our tax code to foster economic growth by lowering rates, eliminating loopholes and finally putting America’s taxpayers ahead of Washington special interests.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats profess they are acting as good stewards of America’s financial future. Frankly, it’s hard to take this seriously when the Democrat majority has refused to pass any sort of tax reform, much less an annual budget in more than 1,100 days.

As the clock ticks down to January 2013, Senate Democrats are touting their latest political scheme. They argue that their tax hikes would have a negligible impact on America’s job creators and would put our nation back on a path to financial solvency. Both claims are patently false. Nearly a million successful small businesses and more than 50 percent of small-business income would be subject to the Democrats’ tax increase, and it would have a negligible impact on our national debt or eliminating budgetary deficits.

For our part, House Republicans refuse to compromise our principles, which are rooted in sound economics. We know that raising taxes on families and small businesses would only exacerbate and prolong the current economic woes.

This philosophy should be shared by our Democrat colleagues and the president if they possessed any consistency. After all, congressional Democrats and President Obama agreed to an extension of these same tax rates less than two years ago.

Their rationale then, according to the president, was that our economic circumstances were so dire that maintaining the current rates was simply “the right thing to do.” What’s changed since 2010? Are they suggesting that the economy has improved so significantly that a tax increase on anyone seems reasonable? This is a curious and flawed perspective. 

In fact, there is evidence proving our economy is still performing at abysmal levels. CBS News has even confirmed that we are in the midst of the “worst recovery America has ever had.”

If our economy hasn’t improved, why do Democrats insist on raising taxes? They are either playing election-year politics at the risk of our nation’s financial future or they are so obsessed with raising taxes on job creators that they are willing to ignore the impact it will have on real lives. Missing from either motivation is any economic justification — for there is none!

Can anything be done to avoid the fiscal cliff? Senate Democrats can propose all the tax increases they wish. The U.S. House of Representatives will not pass a single one of them. House Republicans are acutely aware that we are the only thing standing between a tax hike and the American people, and we will not waver.

Our position is the same today as it was yesterday and it will be tomorrow. It will be the same on Nov. 7, 2012, and Jan. 22, 2013.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to meaningful, long-term tax reform. Our planned improvements would ensure a tax code that is fairer, simpler and more competitive, allowing our economy to stabilize and finally grow again. Americans would spend less time and money complying with an onerous tax code and have more freedom to spend, invest and save for their family’s future. We have laid the groundwork for this type of action in the House of Representatives and we are prepared to do more.

Shortly, the House will pass a one-year extension of the current tax rates for all individuals and small businesses. This legislation will include a process establishing the parameters for comprehensive tax reform in 2013. We invite all Democrats interested in protecting America’s families, taxpayers and job creators to join us.

When Americans are truly free, they know no bounds to success. When government gets out of the way, those same risk-takers and doers are limitless in their potential to achieve. This is the exciting, positive future we envision. 

Price, a medical doctor, is the chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee and a member of the Ways and Means and Budget committees.