Let’s do tax reform right

Last night, my Republican colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill to repeal a critical part of the Affordable Care Act, and blow a hole of at least $1.5 trillion in our federal deficit over the next 10 years in order to give millions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans. It’s shocking. In fact, it’s almost unbelievable.

This bill to overhaul the U.S. tax code was written behind closed doors, without a single public hearing, bipartisan roundtable or any negotiations with members across the aisle. When my Republican colleagues unveiled their tax reform proposal last Friday, we knew they’d rejected our pleas for true bipartisan negotiations, and chosen instead to force through a bill in mere days that would remake our entire economy. That alone was incredibly disheartening.

To learn this week that their effort would also include a sleight of hand maneuver that will begin dismantling our country’s health care system was beyond the pale. According to the non-partisan CBO, this bill will cause health insurance premiums to skyrocket and millions of people to lose their coverage in the decade ahead.

I have a great deal of respect for our friends on the other side of the aisle. Many of us have worked together for a long time. Unfortunately, the process that’s been followed over the past few days makes a mockery of the bipartisan tradition of our committee.

Since I first joined the Finance Committee more than nine years ago, I’ve wanted to do bipartisan tax reform to encourage economic growth and job creation, and help our businesses compete and succeed in the global marketplace. Unfortunately, that’s not the type of tax reform being considered in Congress right now.

As senators head home for next week’s Thanksgiving break, Americans will have a chance, for the first time, to scrutinize this tax reform proposal. When we return, I hope Congress can come together – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike – and start anew on a real bipartisan basis.

I’m encouraging my colleagues to work together on a tax bill that can be permanent, that will endure: to write a tax reform bill that is truly fair, fosters broad-based economic growth, is simpler and is fiscally responsible. On behalf of all Americans, I’m urging my colleagues: let’s do tax reform right.