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Gaetz: Congress Must Pass Budget, Tax Reform This Year

Michael Spooneybarger/CREO

In Washington, the House’s 216-212 passage of a four trillion dollar Republican budget last week appears to pave the way to begin tax reform.

Florida’s 1st District Representative voted with the minority.

“Right now we’ve got $20 trillion in debt; in the next ten years we’re going to $30 trillion in debt unless we cut spending,” said Cong. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach). He’s one of 20 Republicans who joined Democrats in opposing the Senate Amendment to House Con Resolution 71.

Gaetz voted in favor of the original House measure, before its trip to the Senate.

“We had passed a budget that was conservative; it was responsible and it cut over $200 billion in spending,” Gaetz said. “The Senate sent us back a budget that didn’t cut a single nickel in spending. And that’s something I can’t support.”

The vote is considered a major step forward for the GOP tax overhaul effort, which is President Trump’s top legislative priority. But many feel the tight vote in the House could send up a red flag for Republicans on tax reform.

“I intend to vote for tax cuts, assuming that they result in real reduction in costs,” said Gaetz. “I expect on Monday, the tax bill will be filed. At that point we’ll have a chance to really review it and scrutinize it.”

When the budget bill returns to the Senate for reconciliation, it can pass with a simple majority, 51 votes, rather than a 60-vote supermajority. That’s expected to move it through Congress without fear of blocking tactics by Democrats.

Debate on tax reform has been underway for some time now. In July, it was Sen. Bill Nelson pointing to his experience with tax reform as a young House member in 1981, in saying true reform must come from both sides of the aisle.

“And then some of the things that were mistakes in the ’81 bill were changed in a comprehensive reform in 1986,” said Nelson. “You couldn’t pass either one of those without bipartisanship.”

Many lawmakers feel some added urgency to get the tax bill off the ground, in the wake of failing to pass a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Cong. Matt Gaetz is among them.

“The pressure is really on the Republican majority in the Senate and the House, frankly,” said Gaetz. “This is do-or-die time; we absolutely have to pass tax cuts. We’ve got to get a bill on the president’s desk. I’m really optimistic that this is going to be a bill that we can be proud of.”

Sen. Marco Rubio echoes that urgency, but told Fox Business Channel, that he’s confident they can get it done.

“I just can’t imagine not getting it done,” said Rubio. “Why would [voters] elect a majorities in the House and Senate and the White House who support tax reform, and then can’t do tax reform? I think people would have a reason to ask, ‘well, what’s the point?’”

The 64 dollar question remains to be answered by Cong. Matt Gaetz and everyone else – can the GOP-controlled Congress get the budget and tax reform done in the time they have left in 2017?

“We have very little to show for our work this year, so tax cuts will be a real crown jewel,” Gaetz said. “I remain optimistic that we can get it done this year, even if it means staying in Washington through the holidays.”

Critics are not impressed. The group Americans for Tax Fairness says the tax cuts would go to millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations, at the expense of everyone else.

AFT also claims that the giveaways would be funded by cuts to programs that benefit working families, such as Social Security, healthcare, and education.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.