Chamber president urges focus on long-term benefits of tax reform

Chamber president urges focus on long-term benefits of tax reform
© Greg Nash

U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials on Wednesday said stakeholders shouldn’t focus just on specific tax-reform provisions and instead should evaluate a tax overhaul bill as a whole on whether it would stimulate economic growth.

“We are going to encourage everyone — including our own members — to look beyond the immediate impacts of various proposals and consider the longer-term benefits this reform can bring to our country,” Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue said in his speech on the state of American business in 2017.

“This is necessary because this is going to be a series of changes,” he added. “We have to look at the whole system.”

The House Ways and Means Committee is developing tax-reform legislation based on a blueprint House Republicans released in June. Ways and Means Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyFive things to know about the November jobs report Economic growth rate slows to 2 percent as delta derails recovery Democratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse MORE (R-Texas) has described the plan as “built for growth.”

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A number of business groups, particularly in the retail industry, are pushing back against a provision in the blueprint, known as “border adjustment,” that would tax imports and exempt exports. They argue that it would increase the prices of goods for consumers.

Lawmakers have defended the proposal, saying it would remove incentives for companies to move jobs overseas.

Neil Bradley, incoming senior vice president and chief policy officer at the Chamber, said that the group is still reviewing the border-adjustment proposal and is trying to get a better understanding of it.

“Whether you’re for it or against it, it’s a major shift in terms of how the U.S. taxes businesses,” he said during a press conference after the speech. “I think it’s important to understand the details of what those would mean and get them right.”

In his speech, Donohue advocated for lower tax rates for individuals and businesses and implement an “internationally competitive system of taxation.” He criticized the fact that U.S. companies currently have to pay both U.S. and foreign taxes on their foreign earnings.

Donohue also said that tax reform should “end the current bias against capital investment.”

The priorities Donohue mentioned are reflected in the House Republicans’ blueprint. The plan would lower the top individual tax rate to 33 percent and the corporate rate to 20 percent. It would also allow businesses to immediately write off the costs of their capital investments.