Key Republican: Tax reform a must

Key Republican: Tax reform a must
© File photo

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingLawmakers battle over future of Ex-Im Bank House passes Ex-Im Bank reboot bill opposed by White House, McConnell Has Congress lost the ability or the will to pass a unanimous bipartisan small business bill? MORE (R-Texas) says that tax reform is possible in 2015, as long as Republicans get control of Congress.

Hensarling told The Wall Street Journal that Republicans wouldn't have much of an excuse if they take control of the Senate and don’t do tax reform.


“It's a put-up or shut-up moment for us,” he said.

Proponents of tax reform have called for an effort to reduce corporate and individual rates while eliminating tax breaks littered across the code. The difficulty is that each of those breaks has a lobbying interest behind it, making them difficult to kill.

Hensarling said his opposition to reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank was a sort of “precursor to the tax reform fight because there are so many vested corporate interests.”

“If we can’t get rid of this agency and the corporate welfare it represents, how will House Republicans ever muster the intestinal fortitude to be able to do fundamental tax reform?” Hensarling said. “I don’t know how we will ever have the moral authority to deal with social welfare if we can’t deal with corporate welfare.”

Hensarling's committee doesn't have jurisdiction over tax reform, but he's seen as a rising power among conference conservatives. Hensarling also hasn't ruled out challenging Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for his leadership post in the next Congress.