At my family farm in New Hartford, when our family gathers around the kitchen table, we don’t talk about the latest news in Washington, D.C. We talk about our soybean harvest and what we need to plan for in the coming year. We talk about our children’s jobs, our grandchildren’s education and events happening in the community. These are the things that matter to families in Iowa and throughout the country.
Too often, policy debates in Washington neglect to focus on what’s truly important – the people that legislation affects. This is particularly true when it comes to tax policy. Lawmakers, special interest groups and the media engage in arguments that don’t address how policy will help parents afford childcare or small business owners grow and succeed. But those are exactly the things Americans care about. That’s what I hear from Iowans at my annual 99 county meetings and through phone calls and emails to my offices. Kitchen-table discussions are what shape good public policy, and they were at the heart of the historic tax reforms that were passed into law in 2017.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act brought kitchen-table concerns back into focus with measures like the doubling of the child tax credit for families struggling to afford childcare. It simplified the tax code by nearly doubling the standard deduction, making it easier and less expensive for Americans to file their taxes. It increased fairness by reducing tax rates across every income group, with middle-income families receiving the largest tax cuts by percentage. It also spurred economic growth, enabling business owners to invest more in their companies, increase hiring and benefits, create new jobs and leave a little more money for them to continue charitable giving and community involvement.
Comprehensive tax reform was a key reason for Iowa’s unemployment rate dropping to one of the lowest in the nation at 2.7 percent and the national unemployment to its lowest point in half a century. Wages are rising at the fastest rate in nearly a decade and farmers, workers, employers and small business owners are all more optimistic than ever.
These kitchen-table victories have made life better for families and small businesses, and it’s just the beginning. As the new chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I see opportunity to build on the success of the past two years and work in a bipartisan way to continue delivering results for Iowa and the nation.
One of my priorities will be to make permanent a number of reforms passed in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, such as the doubling of the child tax credit, the lowering of tax rates for American families, the 20-percent deduction for small businesses that provide the certainty needed to make investment and hiring decisions and the ability of businesses to quickly recover the cost of investment in property and equipment. Permanent tax policy provides much needed certainty for families and businesses across the country.
I plan to focus on improving retirement savings, protecting the rights of taxpayers and ensuring the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is modernized, efficient and doesn’t step beyond its purpose. I also will prioritize enhancing the competitiveness of U.S. businesses and encouraging research, development and innovation that will continue to provide opportunity and growth in Iowa and across the country.
I will continue pursuing non-partisan, good-government oversight to ensure the nonprofit sector is living up to the purpose of its tax-exempt status and hold the IRS accountable while standing up for tax whistleblowers and exposing and shutting down tax shelters.
I have faith that these priorities can be done on a bipartisan basis. Last Congress, I introduced legislation with every Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee, and I want to continue reaching across the aisle to put forward smart and effective legislation.
There are many opportunities to improve tax policy, spanning from education to renewable and alternative energy to retirement security and consumer-directed health care options. I look forward to seizing these opportunities and delivering more bipartisan, kitchen-table victories to families here in Iowa and at kitchen tables around the nation.