A few dozen conservatives, wearing T-shirts bearing the image of a bloated Uncle Sam feasting on tax dollars, rallied in downtown Denver Tuesday to call for sweeping changes to the federal tax code that would simplify tax filing, eliminate loopholes and tax breaks, and cut taxes for businesses and individuals.
But “what are the chances of it happening?” U.S. Rep. Ken Buck asked rhetorically at one point. “I’ll tell you at the end of September.”
After the Republican Congress’ failure to pass a health care bill, conservatives are shifting their focus to tax reform, with hopes that President Donald Trump will sign something into law before the end of the year. But Republicans will have to clear other political hurdles first — namely, looming deadlines for raising the debt limit and funding the federal budget.
The rally, organized by the Colorado chapter of Americans for Prosperity, was part of a national push by the conservative advocacy group to increase pressure on Congress to overhaul the nation’s tax code.
It’s not yet clear what exactly that will look like. Trump released a rough sketch of a plan this spring, boasting that it would be the “largest tax reform” in U.S. history.
But it contained provisions such as a border tax that House Speaker Paul Ryan has since ruled out. And Democrats, whose support could be needed under Senate rules to pass lasting reform, have scoffed at the notion that tax cuts for corporations and the rich will spur the sort of economic growth that Trump would need to offset the lost revenue.
Conservatives, meanwhile, are pushing for a reform package that does at least three things: slashes tax rates for corporations and small businesses; eliminates tax breaks and loopholes that AFP say unfairly pick winners and losers; and simplifies the tax filing process for individuals, while cutting their overall tax burden.
“A lot of times in the House we say that the Democrats are our opposition and the Senate is our enemy,” Buck, a Republican, told the small gathering at Lincoln Park, across from the state Capitol. “I am here to tell you that our enemy on tax reform is all the special interest groups that want to maintain their special privileges, and that’s what we have to fight against so hard in Washington, D.C.”
Despite Buck’s dousing of cold water, the overwhelming mood at the gathering was one of optimism that Congress would get something done on an issue that’s been a top priority of business groups and conservatives for years.
“We can put the money back in our pockets — the people who actually know how to spend it,” Senate president Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, said.
— Brian Eason (@brianeason) August 29, 2017
Whatever happens is sure to have ripple effects for Colorado. Because Colorado’s state income taxes are based on a person’s taxable federal income, any tax cuts at the federal level would impact a person’s state tax bill, as well.