To the surprise of no one who actually pays attention, the GOP’s attempt to repeal Obamacare failed. Opponents of the legislation from both the right and the left mobilized in an attempt to kill it, with special honors due to the House Freedom Caucus, which stood firmly against its lack of market reforms.
Now Republicans are licking their wounds and planning to move onto tax reform. But that initiative will suffer a similar fate unless Republicans learn a few lessons.
The days of drafting legislation in secret are over. One of the biggest flaws with the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare was that it was drafted in secret, giving Rand Paul and other critics a compelling argument against it. Also, legislation put together behind closed doors isn’t able to be debated and exposed to opposing arguments, which can provide opportunities to fix flaws and strengthen the ability of proponents to defend the bill. Since tax reform will inevitably draw cries from Democrats that Republicans are trying to help the rich, they’d better make sure the drafting process is transparent.
The American people have different interests than Republican lawmakers. Henry Olsen writes at American Greatness that one of the biggest problems with the Republican health care bill is its priorities didn’t resonate with the American people. “Republican politicians need to understand that most non-Republicans do not value the freedom a wealthy person gains from lower taxes more than the spending that directly makes their lives more comfortable and more secure,” Olsen says. The GOP’s tax reform is not only likely to give massive tax cuts to the wealthy, but also to include a border adjustment tax that will raise the prices of products at the store, disproportionately harming the middle and lower classes. Rather than taking that risk, the GOP should focus on balancing much needed corporate tax reform with middle-class tax cuts.
The bill needs to be sold to the American people. Republicans should go across the country and sell their tax reform plans to their constituents. They should hold public hearings and get the input of both business leaders and average consumers. They should be open to suggestions on how to improve it. The failure to sell American voters on the Obamacare repeal proposal is one of the reasons why it failed. Taking tax reform public will likely result in more of those town halls where Republicans get yelled at by progressives, but that’s the price of fighting for your priorities. And much-needed tax reform is definitely worth it.