Shea-Porter Writes Back to Sununu on Tax Reform
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today responded to a letter Governor Chris Sununu sent her earlier in September regarding potential tax reform legislation. Shea-Porter’s letter outlines the pro-working-family, pro-small-business principles she will use to evaluate any Congressional tax proposal.
“I have long called for the elimination of tax expenditures written by corporations and lobbyists with no justification but their own financial gain, while I have also strongly supported the many provisions that benefit Granite State residents and businesses,” wrote Shea-Porter. “My priorities have not changed: I will continue to fight to unrig our tax code so that it supports working families and small businesses.”
In the letter, Shea-Porter outlined the principles any tax reform package must meet to earn her support. She wrote: “I am eager to work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to reform tax policy in a way that achieves our shared goals of lowering taxes on small businesses and providing fairness for working people, and I am encouraged by your outreach regarding this effort…I strongly believe that tax reform proposals must meet the following minimum standards: fairness for families; lower taxes on small businesses; increased simplicity; inclusion of the Buffett Rule; and revenue neutrality.”
Shea-Porter has long championed tax reform “for the rest of us” while opposing recent Republican-led efforts to lower taxes for wealthy individuals and large corporations. In 2010, Shea-Porter sought to block the extension of Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Throughout her time in Congress, Shea-Porter has fought for tax breaks that help working families and support education. In 2013, she introduced the REPAY Supplies Act, a bill to allow K-12 teachers to claim an above-the-line deduction for classroom expenses, which became a permanent U.S. tax code provision. Earlier this year, she introduced a bill to make the above-the-line deduction for higher education tuition expenses permanent for students and families.
The full text of Shea-Porter’s letter:
Governor Christopher T. Sununu
Office of the Governor
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301
Dear Governor Sununu:
Thank you for your September 5, 2017 letter expressing support for comprehensive tax reform. I could not help but notice, as I read your letter, that you highlighted a number of important issues that I, too, have long championed: fairness, tax relief for small businesses, and enhanced opportunity for American workers. My priorities have not changed: I will continue to fight to unrig our tax code so that it supports working families and small businesses.
As you know, tax reform has been a challenging goal for a number of years. In 2014, then-Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a comprehensive tax reform bill, H.R.1, The Tax Reform Act of 2014. Mr. Camp spent months developing his proposal and created a tax plan that was (on paper) revenue neutral, lowered rates, created fewer brackets—and was widely disliked. This was not surprising. As you know, tax reform plans are only easy in concept: close loopholes to pay for lower rates and consolidate brackets in order to simplify compliance for taxpayers and stimulate job growth. It all makes for an easy soundbite and attractive political messaging, but Republican Speaker John Boehner could not get this through because comprehensive tax reform is hard.
In practice, crafting tax policy that advances our shared priorities requires specificity. For example, the $1.5 trillion in “special interest carve-outs, loopholes, and tax credits” that you identify in your letter – a figure commonly cited by the Treasury Department and Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation – includes not only corporate giveaways, but also provisions like the mortgage interest deduction that benefit New Hampshire families and the real estate industry, which are very important to our state and national economy.
I have long called for the elimination of tax expenditures written by corporations and lobbyists with no justification but their own financial gain, while I have also strongly supported the many provisions that benefit Granite State residents and businesses. From the level of detail provided in your letter, I am unable to discern which tax expenditures you consider wasteful and which expenditures you think we should keep.
Do you support the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits, which together lift nearly 10 million Americans out of poverty? Do you support the exclusion for combat pay for our servicemembers? Do you support the exclusion for GI Bill benefits for our nation’s veterans? Do you support the mortgage interest deduction? Or property tax deduction? Or credits for higher education that help 12.6 million Americans and over 38,000 Granite Staters afford a college education? I do, and I will continue to speak up in support of these provisions – by name – as Congress works to reform our tax code.
I also agree that there are ways to simplify and eliminate waste from our tax code. For example, I believe we should eliminate the carried interest loophole, which allows Wall Street bankers to pay far lower taxes than middle class Americans, and end wasteful corporate subsidies, such as those for Big Oil. And I believe we should eliminate all tax incentives that encourage outsourcing jobs. These are just a few specific examples of changes that I support.
I am eager to work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to reform tax policy in a way that achieves our shared goals of lowering taxes on small businesses and providing fairness for working people, and I am encouraged by your outreach regarding this effort. Unfortunately, the proposals that we have seen thus far from those leading the tax reform negotiations would disproportionately benefit the wealthy and add trillions to our debt. Furthermore, these proposals have not been made public or evaluated through the Congressional hearing process. Tax reform negotiations should be bipartisan, but neither the White House nor Republican leaders in Congress have made any effort to involve Democrats in this process. The Ways and Means Committee held over 30 public hearings prior to releasing Mr. Camp’s Tax Reform Act of 2014. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 was preceded by 30 days of full committee hearings.
I strongly believe that tax reform proposals must meet the following minimum standards: fairness for families; lower taxes on small businesses; increased simplicity; inclusion of the Buffett Rule; and revenue neutrality. It is my hope that we are in agreement both on these principles and on the elimination of the loopholes and corporate giveaways that I have specifically identified.
Your public support for these efforts, on behalf of those in the State both of us love and serve, would be sincerely welcome. I am hopeful that the Republican leadership in Congress and the President will work across the aisle to develop a plan that meets the standards outlined above. And I ask you to use your relationship with President Trump to influence him to release a detailed plan with specific proposals that meet these priorities.
Member of Congress