Bipartisanship Finally! Democrats, Republicans Unite to Simplify Tax Code

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 14, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Stop what you were doing and prepare to be stunned. Are you ready? With tax day less than 90 minutes away we found an issue that a Republican and a Democrat agree on. Maybe that should be a Fox News alert.

Earlier Republican Senator Judd Gregg and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden went "On the Record" about their bipartisan tax reform proposal.


VAN SUSTEREN: This is sort after unusual concept, bipartisanship. Is it not?

SEN. JUDD GREGG, R-N.H., SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE: It's new and original thought, but we like it. We are making great progress and doing what we think are good things.

SEN. RON WYDEN, D-ORE.: People are used to the fights between Democrats and Republicans. They come back and after a long day they turn on the TV and see that. And what Senator Gregg and I are saying is in the area of tax policy, instead of Democrats and Republicans going after each other, let's go after the special interest groups that have hijacked the tax code and are keeping rates up.

VAN SUSTEREN: There seems to be two issues. One is your proposal. That's the first thing. The second thing is how you get the United States Senate or anyone to consider it. Do you know anybody in the U.S. Senate, Senator Gregg, who does not think our tax code needs some work?

GREGG: No, that is the universally accepted fact. All you have to do is look at it. It's this big, extremely complicated. We waste hundreds of millions of man hours a year trying to comply with it. It makes no sense.

WYDEN: In a place of 100 votes, you would probably get 103 votes of people who think this should be reformed.

VAN SUSTEREN: This should be an easy task to get it considered. Is there any problem with you getting your tax bill considered?

WYDEN: First of all, this is already building on a model we have done before back in 1986. You had Ronald Reagan teaming up with Bill Bradley, a host of Democrats and Republicans. It is a straightforward proposition. Go in there, clean out the junk. Clean out the special interest rates and keep progressivity.

The big challenge is every one of those tax breaks has a big lobby behind it. They are all going to the finance committee on which I serve, and they are going to say you take away our tax break and western civilization will end.

VAN SUSTEREN: Your party is in the majority. Will your party take this up?

WYDEN: The big challenge is getting the leadership in both parties willing to take on the interest groups. I think we have a good chance, for example, with the deficit commission this summer. Senator Gregg is a member of it and I'm on the budget committee.

When they look at the options this summer given the fact that right now the spending far exceeds revenue, Senator Gregg and I can say there aren't many appealing alternatives out there. This is one you ought to like.

GREGG: Two things are going to give this a lift. Number one it makes sense. This is taking the tax laws, making them simpler, fairer, and much more pro growth so are we are more competitive in the world, so companies will expand here rather than go some place like Ireland where they get a tax break. This is a jobs' bill, that's the first thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's also simple.

GREGG: Simple and fair.

VAN SUSTEREN: For most Americans, the tax code is so complicated. This makes it simple, whether it is good or not, it's simple.

GREGG: A vast majority of Americans will fill out their taxes on one page. We take six brackets, we make three brackets. We give a huge incentive for corporations to expand in this country by reducing the top rate from 35 percent to 24 percent. In the process we create a fairer tax law so people know you are not going to game the system.

WYDEN: A middle class person gets to triple their standard deductions. If you are making $50,000, $60,000, in effect, half your income is off-limits. If you run a small business and you want to buy a new piece of equipment, we let you write it off in the first year.

We're talking to middle class people about getting a substantial cut, talking to small business folks trying to expand, competing in a tough global marketplace, we have benefits for them immediately.

VAN SUSTEREN: This is the type of bill we are almost craving. We want bipartisanship, to see a Republican U.S. Senator and Democratic U.S. Senator working together on this. We don't in the public see much of that lately.

To simplify that humongous code, we love that. Everybody thinks the tax code is a mess. We are creating some fix.

GREGG: Absolutely we are. The American people get this. It is not the American people you have to sell on this concept. Corporate America gets it too.

You have to sell this bubble that surrounds Washington. As Senator Wyden pointed out, every item in the tax law has a group that defends it. And what we are doing is taking a lot of those ups out and replacing it with a flatter, fairer tax, but an equally progressive system, and we're creating huge incentives for capital formation which is critical to creating jobs. But there are interests that are going to be losers.

VAN SUSTEREN: This must be like war, a decision that you make that you set politics aside, you set special interests aside, you make a decision for the American people for simplicity and for growth in the economy. If this is a good decision it ought to be considered by the U.S. Senate, and quickly.

WYDEN: Greta, you are being logical, and heaven forbid that logic should break out here.

The special interest groups are going to try to say to the American people, they are going to use advertising and blogs to say Senator Gregg and Senator Wyden are talking about taking away something you like. It might but it's something you like. And those guys never will cut your rates across the board.

So they are going to frighten people, tell them they are going to be giving up something and they really won't get the rate cuts. What Senator Gregg and I are prepared to say is that, like in 1986 when a Republican president got together with a bunch of Democrats, we are prepared to go the distance.

And just as you say, this is the economic equivalent of war right now.


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