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D.C. Report: Education — The Key to Passing the Fair Tax

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“You don’t know what you don’t know” — people hear me say this often.  And a lot of people still don’t know about the FAIRtax!  Education is critical to passing the Fair Tax Act, HR25 / S.155.  I feel like I have been an educator most of my life, whether it was teaching children how to play games in Japan, or finding jobs for high school dropouts in my early working years, or lobbying Congress about an international trade issue, or teaching students, or providing training for staff.  In one way or another, we are all educators!
 
For our recent trip to D.C. on behalf of educating more members of Congress about the FAIRtax, my main goal was to meet with members or congressional staff of the House and Senate Small Business Committees.  Since the National Small Business Association (NSBA) has vocally supported the FAIRtax, it seemed appropriate to spread that word on Capitol Hill. 
 
Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12)
 
 
 
As I researched House Small Business Committee members, I was impressed that Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12), pictured above with me, was a fellow educator with a Ph.D. in Art History, and had taught for 40 years at a university.  Over the years, she has been part of many bipartisan efforts, and since I am from a military family (my father, career Air Force, and my husband, a former Marine), I was particularly impressed with her successful efforts last year to pass an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) regarding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for service members and their families.  Steve Hayes and I had the opportunity to meet her briefly in her office as she was heading to the House floor to deliver some remarks.  Then, we met at length with her Senior Legislative Assistant Margaret Franklin and Legislative Correspondent Sarah Kenyon, who both asked good questions about the FAIRtax.  In addition to the Small Business Committee, Congresswoman Adams sits on the following House Committees:  Education and the Workforce; Agriculture Committee; and the Joint Economic Committee. She is the Ranking member of the Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight.
 
Tax Evasion’s Growing Impact
 
Building bipartisanship is critical to passing meaningful tax reform legislation!  Tax evasion, now projected to be $600 billion and growing, is the main issue that will bring both congressional Democrats and Republicans to the negotiating table in order to continue to fund our nation’s federal programs.  In fact, W-2 workers will continue to bear the tax burden disproportionately under the current income tax system, since they have little opportunity to evade taxes.  On the other hand, 40% of the American workforce will be independent contractors or non-traditional workers by the year 2020, which experts say will increase tax evasion due to underreporting of income and over exaggeration of expenses. 
 
Fortunately, there is growing awareness that taxing consumption is a better alternative, and in the spirit of bipartisanship, this issue was highlighted in a report, issued in 2015 by a Senate Finance Committee working group on business tax reform, chaired by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).  In fact, Senator Cardin introduced the Progressive Consumption Tax (PCT) legislation.  Although his bill retains a personal income tax (albeit with a higher exemption threshold), adds a national sales tax, and adds a business transfer tax (in place of a corporate income tax), it does provide border adjustability (making U.S. exports more competitive) and should minimize corporate tax inversions — both bringing more jobs back to the U.S.  On the other hand, the Fair Tax could accomplish those goals plus provide sustainability for Social Security and Medicare with a simple, fair and transparent national retail sales tax and no more federal income tax returns!!
 
Our Newest Cosponsors:  Congressman Dan Benishek (MI-1) and Congresswoman Candice Miller (MI-10)
 
September 8th was an exciting day for the FAIRtax effort!  Two more members of Congress signed on as Cosponsors of the Fair Tax Act, bringing our total to 83 (76 House members and 7 Senate members).  They are both from Michigan:  Congressman Dan Benishek (MI-1); and Congresswoman Candice Miller (MI-10). Thank you Congressman Benishek and Congresswoman Miller for your support of the FAIRtax, and thanks go to our FAIRtax leadership in Michigan (http://www.mifairtax.org/).
 


During this trip, I stopped by to place a FAIRtax pin on Congressman Benishek (pictured above) to show our appreciation for his support.  He serves on the following House Committees:  Agriculture; Natural Resources; and Veterans Affairs.  Senior Legislative Assistant Chris Stewart joined us for this meeting. 
 
 Possible FAIRtax Cosponsors



I also had a delightful meeting with Congressman Trent Kelly (MS-01), pictured above.  After answering his questions, he said that he was interested and would talk with our Sponsor Congressman Rob Woodall (GA-7) about becoming a FAIRtax Cosponsor.  In addition to serving on the House Small Business Committee, Congressman Kelly serves on the Agriculture Committee.  Deputy Chief of Staff Elizabeth Parks and Executive Aide Charles Woods joined us for this meeting.
 
In addition, Steve Hayes and I met with Tax Legislative Assistant Ethan Gilbert with Congressman Richard Hanna (NY-22).  Shortly after I left the meeting to go to the airport, Congressman Hanna returned to the office and met with Steve for an hour.  The end result is that Congressman Hanna is also interested in becoming a FAIRtax Cosponsor!!  In addition to serving on the House Small Business Committee, Congressman Hanna serves on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
 
It has been an exciting month!!!

Senator James Risch (ID)



Steve and I had an engaging conversation with Senator James Risch (ID), pictured above.  The Senator expressed his concerns about the current income tax system, and Steve made an excellent case for passing the Fair Tax.  In addition to the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, Senator Risch serves on the following Committees:  Energy & Natural Resources; and Foreign Relations.  Tax Legislative Assistant Charles Adams joined us for this meeting.
 
Other Congressional Appointments
 
In addition, we met with congressional staff in the Senate and House as follows:
 
Senate
— Tax Legislative Aide Tony Frye with the office of Senator Joni Ernst (IA; serves on the following Senate Committees:  Small Business & Entrepreneurship; Armed Services; Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry; and Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs).
— Tax Legislative Assistant Conor Cahill and Intern Dan Nesvet with the office of Senator Edward Markey (MA; serves on the following Senate Committees:  Small Business & Entrepreneurship;  Commerce, Science & Transportation; Foreign Relations; and Environment & Public Works).
— Finance Counsel Joseph Boddicker with the office of Senator Cory Gardner (CO; serves on the following Senate Committees:  Small Business & Entrepreneurship; Energy & Natural Resources; Foreign Relations; and Commerce, Science & Transportation).
— Senior Legislative Assistant Tom Bush and Legislative Correspondent Evan Williams with the office of Senator Jerry Moran (KS; SPONSOR, S.155, The Fair Tax Act; serves on the following Senate Committees:  Appropriations; Commerce, Science & Transportation; Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs; Veterans’ Affairs; and Indian Affairs).
 
House
— Legislative Director Trey McKenzie with the office of Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3; serves on the following House Committees:  Small Business; and Financial Services).
— Tax Legislative Assistant Jayson Braude with the office of Congresswoman Janice Hahn (CA-44; serves on the following House Committees:  Small Business; and Transportation & Infrastructure).
— Senior Policy Advisor Doug Centilli with the office of Congressman Kevin Brady (TX-8; serves on the following House Committee: Chairman, House Ways & Means Committee).
— Tax Legislative Assistant Harry Baumgarten with the office of Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (NY-9; serves on the following House Committees:  Small Business; Energy & Commerce; and Ethics).
— Senior Policy Advisor Alex Poirot with the office of Congressman Rob Woodall (GA-7; SPONSOR HR25, The Fair Tax Act; serves on the following House Committees:  Budget; Transportation & Infrastructure; and Rules).
 
Educating Others about the FAIRtax
 
Education continues to be the most important component to passing the Fair Tax.  Now is the time to talk to your friends and neighbors (Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Independents) about this nonpartisan issue.  They will likely respond as so many others do — “a national sales tax makes sense!”   Then, they may ask:  “what can I do?”  You can direct them to the state FAIRtax websites, and of course, wear a FAIRtax lapel pin — free publicity!  Many of us are also available to talk to groups in which you may be involved and need a speaker for their next meeting.
 
Most importantly, please ask them to join us, and together we can make history!!
 
Peggy Green-Ernst, MBA
Director, Government Relations
Board of Directors Americans For Fair Taxation
Peggy.Green-Ernst@FAIRtax.org
#FAIRtax
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