Views: Cut waste, fraud and abuse

Source: The Hill

By Jeff Cook-McCormac


If there is a lesson to be learned from the 2014 midterm elections, it is that Americans are frustrated with the status quo. Voters did not cast their ballots in favor of one political party or the other. Instead, they went to the polls on November 4 to tell Washington to work together to get things done on their behalf. Years of inaction and gridlock resulted in an anti-establishment sentiment that should send signals to the White House and Capitol Hill that it is time for them to roll up their sleeves and act or they could be the next political casualties.

On behalf of Each American Dream, Frank Luntz surveyed voters on Election Day to understand what drove them to the polls and what they want to see their leaders accomplish. Above all, voters want their elected officials to get serious about cutting wasteful spending and make government more efficient and effective. Most Americans have had to learn over the last several years how to do more with less. Not unsurprisingly, they expect government to do the same. This means Congress and the president should go through the budget line-by-line and eliminate unnecessary spending, waste, fraud and abuse.

The next priorities for Americans are job creation and tax reform that makes the code simpler, fairer and flatter. Congress has an opportunity to do both at the same time by reforming our frustratingly inefficient and ineffective tax code to make it work for the American people, creating more jobs and more opportunity for everyone. As the new tax-writing committee chairmen, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have an historic opportunity to put the best interest of our country ahead of the special interests and demonstrate the kind of changes that are necessary to rebuild a healthy economy.

Tax reform happened in 1986 because responsible leaders on both sides of the aisle called a temporary truce in their unending battle over whether America should tax its people more or less. Despite their personal preference for higher revenues, Democrats like Sen. Bill Bradley (N.J.) and Dick Gephardt (Mo.) embraced revenue-neutral reform, while conservative tax cutters like Ronald Reagan did the same.

Sadly, today no such consensus yet exists. While Republicans publicly support revenue-neutral reform and an increasing number of Democrats privately acknowledge the same, the White House continues to say it will support reform only if it increases taxes by another $1 trillion. Another large scale tax increase is not only the last thing our stagnant economy needs, it’s also an unbelievable thing to prioritize above fixing the tax code to make it work for the American people.

When given three options – reform that focuses on raising revenue, cutting taxes or fixing the code – Americans have an unambiguously clear message for Washington – work together to fix the code. More than three out of four want Congress to focus on making the tax code simpler, fairer and flatter, while twenty percent want lower taxes and only five percent demand higher taxes. That’s only one in twenty Americans who agree with the White House’s negotiating position. Only one in twenty.

The president doesn’t need to jettison everything he believes in. He simply needs to demonstrate a willingness to put the priorities of the American people ahead of partisan politics, embrace the same posture as reasonable Democrats before him and allow the tax reform debate to truly begin. The American people deserve real reform, and they have demanded real results. It’s time for politicians who say they want to unite us to do just that – to work together to get the job done.

Jeff Cook-McCormac is a senior adviser at Each American Dream, a right-leaning non-profit advocacy group.