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Image via Shutterstock
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BY CONGRESSMEMBER DAN DONOVAN

In the 1980s, President Reagan said in a speech, “Let us go forward with a historic reform for fairness, simplicity and incentives for growth.” The White House, alongside Congress, was able to take these words and turn them into results for the American people as it passed the Tax Reform Act of 1986 – one of the biggest policy accomplishments of the 20th century – into law.

As Congress begins the process of overhauling our nation’s tax code again, it’s critical that we reflect on the biggest lesson learned from the reform process 30 years ago: legislative victories require collaboration from both sides of the aisle.

While the current hyper-partisan political environment might make a bipartisan approach seem like an impossible task, it can – and has to be – done. In 1986, Republicans controlled the White House and the Senate, and Democrats commanded a huge majority in the House. Congressional Democrats and Republicans worked together across the aisle to pass a bipartisan proposal that overhauled the tax code to help families and revitalize the economy.

Instead of concentrating on the differences that separated them, they worked together to find common ground and shared goals. Shouldn’t our current Congress be able to do the same?

The tax code impacts the livelihoods of every American family and business. Whether you are a Brooklyn small business owner, a young professional paying off student loans, or a family buying a first home, the tax code affects your current and future decisions.

Our current tax code is enormously complex and unfair. It’s tripled in length over the past 30 years to 70,000 pages, with many of those changes creating new loopholes and distortions. When government picks winners and losers in the tax code, our economy suffers and everyday folks feel disenfranchised.

Free market competition should drive success, not special carve-outs and perks. The current system encourages American companies to move overseas and makes it impossible for families to file returns easily. Both parties can agree that it’s time to find solutions to these problems.  

We have an opportunity to enact a major policy win for the American people, and I’m hopeful my colleagues from both sides of the aisle can work together to advance tax reform. The only hope to creating a simpler and fairer system that helps American families and businesses, as well as generates sustained economic growth, is for both parties come together.

Our goal should be to deliver a 21st-century tax code built for growth – the growth of families’ paychecks, the growth of American businesses, and the growth of our nation’s economy.

I stand ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to use our different perspectives to reach a common goal of helping American families and businesses. At a point when Americans continue to grow frustrated with Washington, it’s time to show that we can effectively solve policy problems.

Congressmember Dan Donovan represents the 11th C.D. in Staten Island and Brooklyn.

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