Martha Roby: Tax and regulatory reform priorities in 2017 

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The 115th Congress convenes this week in Washington, ushering in a unified Republican government for the first time in a decade. I have high hopes for what can be achieved in the coming months and years, understanding that much hard work will be required to deliver results.

As I wrote last week, I’m particularly hopeful the new Congress and incoming Trump Administration can work together to offer relief to American families from the burdensome policies of the last eight years. Beyond health care, there are other policy issues impacting the lives of every day Americans which require our attention. Two that will be a priority for my colleagues and me in Congress are taxes and regulations.

When it comes to taxes, there is no question we can do better as a nation. Oliver Wendell Holmes once famously said that taxes are what we pay for a civilized society. But, while most don’t mind paying a fair share to fund essential services, our tax code has devolved into something that serves the ever-growing interests of the government, rather than the interests of the taxpayer. It’s time for a simpler, flatter, and fairer tax code that allows American families to keep and invest more of their hard-earned money.

Our tax code is also a huge inhibitor of economic growth. Many might not realize that the United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. While that contributes to the labyrinth of loopholes that further complicate our tax code, it also makes it all the more difficult for companies to expand their business and hire more workers. Making our corporate tax code more competitive globally would be a huge economic boon for this country, leading to more jobs and better wages for American workers.

Another job growth inhibitor is our nation’s regulatory environment. While reasonable rules and safeguards will always be necessary for basic protections in our society, the regulatory state has gotten out of control, growing to what has been called the “fourth branch of government.”

Ask just about any small business owner or farmer and they’ll tell you that understanding and complying with the ridiculous number of government regulations is among their most challenging costs, both time and money wise. But, regulations don’t just affect the business world. They are also a significant burden on American middle class families, though the cost is often unseen. In fact, government regulations cost American families an average of $15,000 a year, according an annual study the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The good news is relief is on the way. The executive actions President Barack Obama took with his “pen and phone” to get around Congress can just as quickly be undone by President-elect Donald Trump. However, I believe Congress must go a step further and pass the REINS Act, which would place strict restraints on executive agencies for mandating major rules and regulations without the approval of Congress. Unelected bureaucrats should not be able to unilaterally impose major regulations no matter who is president, and I’m optimistic the House can act on this legislation as soon as this week.

Enacting meaningful tax and regulatory reforms won’t be easy. However, I believe delivering results on these issues could be some of the most powerful ways to ease the squeeze on every day American families. That’s why offering relief on taxes and regulations is a priority for me in 2017.

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Martha Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband Riley and their two children.

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