ICYMI – Roskam on tax reform: 'Either get this done' or it 'will be the lost opportunity of a lifetime'

Nov 15, 2017
Press Release

Roskam on tax reform: 'Either get this done' or it 'will be the lost opportunity of a lifetime'
By: Katherine Skiba
Chicago Tribune

November 15, 2017

Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam said on Tuesday that he has so much faith in his party’s proposed tax overhaul that he’ll be campaigning on the issue leading up to the 2018 midterm elections in less than a year.

“I plan on running on tax reform,” he said, calling the current tax code “completely indefensible.”

The six-term lawmaker from Wheaton said the House is likely to pass the GOP-authored tax plan on Thursday and predicted a House-Senate compromise is “very likely” to reach President Donald Trump’s desk by year-end. Roskam sits on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee and chairs the panel’s Tax Policy Subcommittee. He said the House bill was “very much a group effort” and takes no credit for any particular part of the measure.

Roskam represents the 6th Congressional District in the western and northwestern suburbs and was the only Illinois House Republican in 2016 to win in a congressional district also won by Hillary Clinton. That dynamic has led several Democrats to launch campaigns to try to oust him next year, and a number of rivals are challenging him on the rewrite of the tax code, the first since 1986.

The House bill caps the tax deduction for state and local property taxes at $10,000 and ends the deduction for state and local income taxes and sales taxes — a potential headache for some taxpayers in Illinois.

Roskam, though, said in an interview that Republicans have a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to make the U.S. a place where more businesses want to invest. He said the measure’s sharp cuts to corporate tax rates would trigger investment, economic expansion and higher wages.

“We’ll either get this done,” he said, “or this will be the lost opportunity of a lifetime.”

Roskam plays down analyses that suggest the legislation would disproportionately help the wealthy and corporations. The 6th District is one where the 2016 estimated median household income was $97,387, or 69 percent higher than the national median of $57,617 at the time, Census Bureau figures show.

Roskam said he can’t guarantee that every taxpayer will see his or her tax burden reduced “given every single subtlety of every single return.” He contended, though, that everyone will benefit from lessening the tax burden and spurred economic growth, leading to more jobs and higher wages.

An analysis by the Tax Policy Center said the measure would reduce taxes on average for all income groups in 2018. The largest cuts, both in dollars and as a percentage of after tax-income, would go to higher-income households. The center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, said at least 7 percent of taxpayers would pay higher taxes under the proposal in 2018, and at least 24 percent of taxpayers would pay more in 2027.

“I’ve not seen the new analysis,” Roskam said, noting the center recently had to revise an earlier estimate of the bill’s impact.

Roskam said those changes have to be viewed in concert with other provisions of the bill: nearly doubling the standard deduction for joint filers to $24,000; increasing the child tax credit to $1,600 from $1,000; adding an additional $300 credit for each parent; and ending the alternative minimum tax.

The House bill also doubles the threshold for exclusions from the estate tax to nearly $11 million for individuals and $22 million for couples. It would be repealed entirely in several years.

Roskam said it was “perfectly reasonable” to come up with a higher threshold so long as small businesses and farmers are able to pass on their enterprises to the next generation without a “death tax” so steep as to be “scandalous.”

Though the House could approve Republicans’ proposal Thursday, the details could change as the Senate continues work on its own measure in the coming weeks.

This week more than 400 millionaires and billionaires wrote a letter to Congress telling them not to cut their taxes. The effort was organized by a group called Responsible Wealth, which backs progressive causes.

“I’ve not gotten that letter,” Roskam said, saying his constituent contacts included people who want to get tax reform done, who want to learn more or who are opposed.

As for the opponents, “we try to tell them why it’s a good idea,” he said.

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