Tax reform -- America needs a tax code that's good for the country, not good for Washington

The Constitution authorizes Congress to tax Americans to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare. But in Washington, the professional political class has hijacked that authority to rig up a tax code that provides for the well-being of Washington, not the country.

This week President Trump is coming to Missouri to explain how he intends to change that. His visit is welcome news, and Missourians should welcome him with enthusiasm to our state. The President understands that when it comes to taxing American workers, things cannot go on as they are now.

Because here’s the reality: if you live in Washington, D.C., times are good. Washington’s economy is booming. Forbes Magazine reports that the top four richest counties in America are located in the greater DC area. Those communities, home to the professional lobbyists, government contractors, and bureaucrats who run the capital, have a median household income that’s more than double the state average in Missouri.

It’s no mystery how that happened. The people in Washington are getting rich with our money. Under President Barack Obama, the federal government swelled to record size, and it took more and more of our money to pay for it.

It’s no mystery how that happened. The people in Washington are getting rich with our money. Under President Barack Obama, the federal government swelled to record size, and it took more and more of our money to pay for it. Who benefitted? Not Missouri farmers or workers. While DC prospers, they are suffering through the weakest economic recovery in decades.

President Trump has a bold plan to change course and give working Missourians a chance to move ahead. His plan honors real work and prioritizes the taxpayers instead of the tax takers.

Step one is to make the tax code simpler. Today’s code and its regulations are a four million-word mess of special interest exemptions and corporate giveaways. This complexity fuels crony capitalism and grows the power of lobbyists, while burdening American workers.

President Trump has urged Congress to reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three, to increase the standard deduction, and to eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax that kills jobs and forces many small businesspeople into paying higher taxes. These are important proposals. A simpler system with a higher standard deduction would allow working Missourians to pay less, and to spend less time trying to figure out the tax code. Last year, Americans who filled out the standard Form 1040 spent an average of 16 hours and $270 of their money just for the privilege of paying their taxes. That’s ridiculous. It’s offensive. And it’s time to change it.

To simplify the code further, the president has asked Congress to consider limiting itemized tax deductions to just mortgage interest, charitable giving, and retirement savings. This proposal will not please the D.C. lobbyists or the many members of Congress who have carved up the tax code for their friends, but it’s a debate our country is long overdue to have.

The president has also proposed lowering the tax rate on job-creating businesses. Today our rate is higher than any other industrialized economy, and it’s encouraging businesses to move jobs overseas. American workers and American entrepreneurs can compete with anybody, anywhere if our government will stop making America a cost-prohibitive place to do business.

In the coming weeks you will hear many Senators and members of Congress—in both parties—argue that reforming the tax code and cutting taxes is impossible. These are the same Senators and members of Congress who have prospered under the tax mess we have now. Don’t listen to them. We can do better. And we must.

President Trump has challenged Congress to reduce the burden on the American worker and to build an economy that rewards honest work. Congress should accept that challenge and craft a bipartisan plan that makes real reductions in what government demands from our wallets. No more excuses. It’s time to lead.

Republican Josh Hawley is Attorney General for the state of Missouri.