With failed efforts by Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act now in the rearview mirror, at least in the eyes of the public, Congress has now turned to the next big ticket item in President Donald Trump’s agenda: tax reform.
But at least one Colorado congressman wants Washington to see tax reform coming out of Congress as a bipartisan effort, with full hearings and meetings and collaboration, unlike Republican efforts on the Affordable Care Act.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Greeley Republican, spoke today to a small gathering of backers of tax reform in Denver’s Lincoln Park, across the street from the state Capitol.
“It’s time we get over the fact that Republicans steal from the Treasury to help their friends and Democrats steal from the Treasury to help their friends,” Buck told Colorado Politics. “It’s time we recognize that the American people deserve better.
“We cannot put a tax reform package on the floor of the House and expect Democrats to get on board. We should run this through committees, get input from members and leadership…and make sure we have the best package.”
The gathering, which was part barbecue and “tax reform games” and part serious policy discussion, was sponsored by the Colorado chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group supported financially by billionaires David and Charles Koch.
Jesse Mallory, AFP’s state director and the former chief of staff to the state Senate Republicans, said Tuesday’s event would help raise awareness about tax reform.
“We want something that’s simpler, close loopholes and is fair,” Mallory told Colorado Politics. “We’ve been calling on Congress to take this seriously, and to create a system that is fair, flatter” and good for everyone.”
Mallory said AFP is actively engaged in discussions at the federal level, and that Tuesday was an opportunity to talk to citizens about tax reform — and to sign them up to help AFP with its famous door-to-door efforts.
Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham of Canon City also jumped onto the tax reform platform, telling the audience that they need to show up at the Capitol and to not let the 100 lawmakers in the General Assembly dictate what’s going on.
“Put the money back into the hands of those who know how to spend it,” Grantham said.
Grantham and Democratic Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran of Denver unsuccessfully sponsored a bill in the 2017 session to raise the state’s sales tax to fund a $3.5 billion bond issue to chip away at a backlog of fixes to the state’s roads, highways and bridges.
Buck explained that the tax reform package being floated in Congress would reduce the corporate tax rate, lower the small business tax rate to around 15 to 18 percent and reduce the tax rate and simplify the tax code for individuals.
“You could fill out a tax return on a postcard, he added.
The nation’s tax codes picks winner and losers, he said: special interest groups and corporations get certain privileges.
“We don’t get those privileges, which is fundamentally wrong,” Buck said.
He told the crowd of about 50 that the enemy of tax reform is not Democrats nor the Senate. “It’s the special interest groups that want to maintain their privileges,” he said.
By the end of September, Buck said, Americans should know whether such a tax reform package will be possible. It should be through the House of Representatives within the next two weeks, he added, but his greatest hope is that the package will be bipartisan.
“I hope it’s fair for Democrats, Republicans, affiliateds. I hope it’s a bill that America says ‘Congress did its best job, the president signed a good bill and we will go forward.’”
Buck demurred when asked if he is considering a run for Colorado attorney general, pointing out that he’s running for re-election to Congress next year “because Cynthia Coffman is running for attorney general. If anything changes I’ll let you know.”
Coffman is rumored to be considering a run for governor in 2018.
As Buck walked away from the stage, the sound system, perhaps ironically, cranked out the Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”