Add to this perfect storm that the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (WI-1) is a policy wonk in the tax area, and that the House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (TX-8) is a FAIRtax CoSponsor, with whom we met in December and who later that day reiterated his support as a CoSponsor for the Fair Tax on his website. In addition, Steve and I have met with almost every congressional member or a staffer on the Senate Finance Committee and on the House Ways & Means Committee, and continue to receive good questions during meetings with both Democrats and Republicans. We also continue to reach out to national organizations to educate and to find common ground on tax reform!
This year the House Ways & Means Committee will be hearing testimony on viable tax reform options, and Chairman Brady and Congressman Rob Woodall (GA-7), FAIRtax Sponsor, are discussing who will be on the panel to testify!! Hold onto your seat; the roller coaster ride is about ready to begin!!
A FAIRtax Pinning Ceremony with Congressman Marlin Stutzman (IN-3)
Congressman Marlin Stutzman (IN-3) has been an ardent CoSponsor of the Fair Tax Act, H.R. 25. In appreciation of his support, Steve and I met with him to give him a FAIRtax lapel pin, which I pinned on his jacket. (Congressman Stutzman is pictured above with Steve and me.) Initially, we had an enjoyable conversation about my adventurous childhood education, as a result of living in many other countries due to my father John Green’s career in the U.S. Air Force. Then, Steve provided an overview of our FAIRtax activities, some of the tax reform proposals of the presidential candidates, our recent discussion with Chairman Brady, Steve’s meeting a year ago with Speaker Ryan, and tax reform hearings this year. Further, the Congressman expressed interest in Steve’s speaking at a Tax Reform Town Hall in the Congressman's district. Finally, since Stutzman is a member of the House Freedom Caucus and 20 of their 37 members are FAIRtax CoSponsors, we asked for his encouragement of the remaining members to support the Fair Tax Act. The Congressman serves on the House Financial Services Committee, and sits on the Financial Institutions & Consumer Credit as well as the Monetary Policy & Trade Subcommittees. It is also very important for the FAIRtax that Congressman Stutzman is currently leading in the race to succeed Senator Dan Coats. If the Congressman is successful, we will have another advocate for real tax reform in the U.S. Senate. Tax Legislative Assistant Amy Surber joined us for this meeting. FAIRtax Indiana State Director Dave Armstrong was instrumental in scheduling this meeting for us — thank you, Dave!
Tax Reform Town Hall Scheduled with Congressman John Mica (FL-7)
We had a delightful meeting with Congressman John Mica (FL-7), another strong CoSponsor of the Fair Tax Act! (Pictured above are Steve, Congressman Mica and me.) Initially, we were meeting with his Tax Policy Advisor Kevan Stone, since the Congressman was in a Committee hearing. We were pleasantly surprised when the Congressman came in and spent 30 minutes with us to discuss FAIRtax activities, and upcoming hearings on tax reform. In addition, he agreed to hold a Tax Reform Town Hall in his district, which will be held in April; Steve Hayes will be there to speak on the Fair Tax Act. The Congressman serves on the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation & Public Assets. He also serves on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. Thanks go to Florida FAIRtax leader Larry Walters for his assistance in scheduling this meeting!
Other Capitol Hill Meetings
- Chief of Staff Alan Hanson, Legislative Director Bill Sullivan, and Tax Legislative Assistant Morgan Carter with the office of Senator Richard Shelby (AL; Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs Committee; also serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Committee on Rules and Administration.) Thanks go to Alabama FAIRtax State Director Chuck Bailey for scheduling this meeting for us!
- Tax Legislative Assistant Tom Bush with the office of Senator Jerry Moran (KS; Fair Tax Sponsor of S.155; sits on Senate Appropriations Committee, serving as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture; member of Senate Committees on: Commerce, Science & Transportation; Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs; and Veterans’ Affairs)
- Tax Legislative Assistant Gerald Huang with Senator David Perdue (GA; Fair Tax CoSponsor of S.155; member of Senate Committees on: Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; Budget; Foreign Relations; and Judiciary)
- Legislative Correspondent Sanjay Palat (our scheduled meeting was with Tax Legislative Assistant Beth Bell who was ill) with the office of Senator Ben Cardin (MD; sits on Senate Finance Committee, and serves on its Taxation & IRS Oversight Subcommittee; Co-Chair, Business Income Tax Working Group; Ranking Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and also serves on Environment & Public Works as well as Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committees)
- Legislative Director Laura Thrift with the office of Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-3; member of the Ways and Means Committee, and serves on the Subcommittees on Health, Social Security and Trade.)
- Legislative Director Aindriu Colgan with the office of Congressman Kevin Brady (TX-8; Fair Tax CoSponsor of H.R.25; Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee)
- Tax Legislative Assistant Brian Maves with the office of Congressman Marsha Blackburn (TN-7; Fair Tax CoSponsor of H.R.25; sits on the House Budget Committee as well as the House Energy & Commerce Committee, including the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing & Trade). Congressman Blackburn stopped in to say a quick “Hello” on her way to another meeting. Thanks go to Tennessee FAIRtax leader Kip Dodson for scheduling this meeting for us!
- Legislative Director Jared Dilley with the office of Congressman Jim Jordan (OH-4; serves on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation & Regulatory Affairs; also sits on the House Judiciary Committee, and is Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus)
EDUCATING NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS:
I continue my mission of educating national organizations on the Fair Tax benefits for their membership, and to involve them in the national tax reform discussion.
American Federation of Teachers
On this trip, we also met with Kristor “Tor” Cowan, Director of the Legislative Department, and Sarah Cohen, both with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). (Pictured above are from left: Tor, me and Steve.) Part of my career was in the public education sector, and I was a member of AFT for liability purposes. Also, my husband, psychologist Dr. Ray Ernst, as well as many friends have spent many years in education. I am well-acquainted with the benefits that the Fair Tax Act would provide to this sector, especially with the growing tax evasion placing an ever greater and unfair tax burden on W-2 employees. We also discussed the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) as well as the Government Pension Offset (GPO), which negatively impacts public employees. Since AFT’s chief economist was unable to join us for this meeting, Tor has invited us back for another meeting when their economist is available.
Once again, we had a very busy schedule, and an ever increasing chorus of voices are wanting tax reform. A perfect storm of opportunity has presented itself for a 21st Century tax system, and now it’s up to the American public to keep the momentum going and the pressure on legislators to perform their responsibilities on behalf of “We the People”.
Please join us, and together we can make history!!
Peggy Green-Ernst, MBA
Director, Government Relations
Board of Directors
Americans For Fair Taxation
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