No Health-Care Plan or Tax Cuts? Then No Vacation


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When I appeared on Fox Business Network for the live release of the May jobs report, I argued to Maria Bartiromo that the deceleration in employment gains is a massive warning to Capitol Hill. Voters handed the GOP a clean sweep in 2016: both houses of Congress and the White House. In return, these Americans expect—and deserve—swift, tangible policy prescriptions to deliver the economic growth they so badly need.

Instead, the May report showed only 138,000 new jobs, which barely keeps up with population growth. Meanwhile, the two prior months were revised downward as well. Worse still, wage growth remains stuck at 2.5 percent, hardly enough for most workers to stay ahead of cost-of-living increases.

There are many reasons Donald J. Trump pulled off perhaps the biggest upset in U.S. electoral history, but none were as crucial as working-class Americans’ frustration with slow economic growth. The sluggish Obama recovery growth rate of between 1 and 2 percent worked nicely for the highest strata of our economic scale, but not for the working class. As the owners of assets – particularly stocks and real estate – thrived, blue-collar America saw almost no real expansion. 

Thankfully, those inside this White House understand the urgency of substantial and immediate relief in the form of an Obamacare repeal-and-replace and serious tax cuts. But Congress, which still seems stuck in a pre-Trump mindset, has been dragging its feet. Its members appear far too comfortable with the status quo that has served Washington so well, to the detriment of the rest of the country.

Adding insult to injury, our public servants plan on working a total of 22 days between now and Labor Day.  I certainly don’t take all of August off from work. Most of the readers of this article won’t either. Why, then, should our elected lawmakers reward themselves for inaction with a lengthy vacation while collecting the salaries we pay them?

Whether the denizens of Washington “swamp” know it or not, tax cuts are the Holy Grail of the Trump movement. So, tax relief should not be that elusive a quest. Yet the Republican and Democratic duopoly remains highly protective or our current, confiscatory, tax code. The reason is no mystery: Its Byzantine provisions are how crony special interests assert and guard their advantages. Don’t believe it’s that bad? Consider that five of the six highest median income counties in America surround Washington, D.C., a region with little historical economic base other than government.

When it comes to taxes, our capital acts far too much like the Capital in “The Hunger Games.” And we in the Districts have had enough.

GOP members would do well to remember that, come 2018, voters are unlikely to forgive a party that fails to deliver on its bedrock promises. Even worse, if Democrats gain control of the House in the midterms, their anti-Trump hysteria has become so pervasive that impeachment would loom as a constant sword overhanging the rest of the president’s term.

Therefore, I advise House and Senate leadership to use the much-maligned reconciliation process, which would allow Republicans to sidestep Democratic Party filibusters and intransigence, and pass health-care and tax cuts in one bill—and to do this soon. Table the idea of wholesale tax reform for now. Let’s get tax rate reductions through immediately so that our economy can accelerate and wages can rise.

Until those goals are achieved, our members of Congress have no right to head to beaches and golf courses. Unless they create the conditions for our economy to heat up, our elected officials should spend August in the sweltering heat of Washington until they come to their senses.

Steve Cortes, a contributor to RealClearPolitics and Fox News, is the national spokesman for the Hispanic 100, an organization that promotes Latino leadership by advancing free enterprise principles. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.