February 26

For too long Republicans have been blamed for causing gridlock in Washington by being the “party of no.” For whatever reason, Republicans have had a hard time breaking through with an affirmative agenda. Thankfully, Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is giving Republicans a way to diminish the “party of no” label that is beginning to stick. Camp has offered a serious, creative plan to overhaul America’s tax code. His effort is worthy of a lot of support and a lot of discussion. This is important.

Congressman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
Congressman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Republicans need to match their rhetoric with some action. Saying that we need a fairer, flatter, simpler tax code is just an empty cliché if we don’t have a plan to make that idea a reality. Well, now we have a serious tax reform proposal. Camp recommends a number of ways to make the tax code “fairer and more accountable,” including having just two individual income tax rates (of 10 percent and 25 percent) and introducing a higher standard deduction and child tax credit that would result in less paperwork for families.

Even if some Republicans don’t agree with all the provisions of the Camp plan, having a debate on tax reform is a good thing. The GOP needs to offer serious policy and not just carp about Obamacare and argue among ourselves about everything else.

I spoke with Camp about his proposal, and the first word he used to describe the motive behind his tax reform plan was “growth.” Good for him. Republicans need to lead a pro-growth revival and that’s hard to do without a plan.

As we learn more details about Camp’s proposal, we see that it’s not just a cosmetic fix but will actually change our economy. No less than economist Stephen Moore, who is the gold standard, Good Housekeeping seal of approval for pro-growth Republicans, has blessed the initiative. In an article in today’s Investor’s Business Daily, he praises the plan, saying that it means “more jobs and as much as $700 billion of added revenues to the Treasury over 10 years. Is there a better way to balance the budget than through higher growth, profits, employment and wages?”  If Steve Moore says this tax reform plan is pro-growth, it’s pro-growth.

And by the way, there should not be any whining among Republicans about being forced to actually advocate something specific in an election year. Voters aren’t stupid. They know the GOP has mostly been spinning its wheels and avoiding making many offers. We can disagree with Democrats, but we can’t say they haven’t put forward plans and offers of their own. For better or for worse, President Obama and his Democratic allies are offering voters Obamacare, less work, more food stamps and, in some places, even more pot. Republicans need to make an offer, too, and give Americans reasons to vote for them and not just against the Democrats. A few buzzwords won’t do; Republicans need to offer solutions.

Dave Camp deserves thanks, support and a honest, thoughtful debate on his proposal.

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