D.C. Report: FAIRtax Outreach Beyond Capitol Hill

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D.C. Report:  FAIRtax Outreach Beyond Capitol Hill
At the end of October, I experienced another historic week in D.C. with the change of the Speaker of the House from Congressman John Boehner (OH-8) to former House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (WI-1), with whom AFFT Chairman Steve Hayes met last December!  While that transition was taking place, I was on Capitol Hill conducting a FAIRtax pinning ceremony with a Senator, meeting with congressional staff, and attending a Senate Finance Committee hearing.  For this trip, I again focused my efforts on meeting with sitting members of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways & Means Committee.  In addition, I continued to expand the FAIRtax message beyond the Capitol to national organizations.  In total, I had 14 appointments in three days.

A FAIRtax Pinning Ceremony with Senator James Inhofe!
Senator James Inhofe (OK), pictured above with me, has been a strong Cosponsor for the Fair Tax Act, S.155.  In appreciation of his support, I met with him to give him a FAIRtax lapel pin which I pinned on his jacket.  Then, we had an enjoyable 30 minute conversation.  When I first arrived, the Senator had just left to deliver some remarks on the floor of the Senate, and his Tax Legislative Assistant Dan Hillenbrand and I met until the Senator returned.  Senator Inhofe is Chairman of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, and also serves on the Armed Services Committee.  It is important for us to continue to thank our Cosponsors for their vocal support!
Delivering the FAIRtax Message Beyond Capitol Hill
Since 2016 is a presidential election year, I continued to hear that comprehensive tax reform will not be passed next year.  However, tax reform continues to be a top priority on the political agenda, and there will likely be hearings on Capitol Hill on that issue next year.  My goal for next year is to meet with the remaining few Senate Finance Committee offices and the remaining House Ways & Means Committee offices, where we have not previously scheduled appointments.  Education on the Hill in anticipation of congressional hearings on tax reform is very important!
The Importance of Building Strategic Coalitions
On the other hand, one of my strategic priorities for next year will be on building FAIRtax coalitions.  Over my career, I have had successful outcomes in building coalitions on local, national and international issues.  In addition to continuing to expand our grassroots and congressional bases, we need to build coalitions with national organizations, corporations and small businesses.

American Farm Bureau Federation
Last week, I met with Bob Young, Chief Economist, for the American Farm Bureau Federation.  (We are pictured above at the AFBF office with the Capitol in the background.)  Bob is very knowledgeable about the FAIRtax, and explained to me the Farm Bureau’s policy recommendation process throughout the States and counties.  AFBF membership has more than six million families.  After reviewing their policy on Tax Reform (below), there appears to be a lot of support for something very similar to the Fair Tax, and we will renew our relationships at the State level to work with their membership to support the Fair Tax Act, H.R. 25 / S.155. 
In their policy manual, section “438/Tax Reform” states:  (1) We support replacing the current federal income tax system. (2) The new tax code should encourage, not penalize, success and encourage savings, investment and entrepreneurship.  It should be transparent, simple and require a minimum of personal information. (3) Any replacement tax system should:  3.1) Be fair to agricultural producers; 3.2) We support and recommend IRS regulatory reforms that allow profits to be averaged over the same number of years as loss is calculated; 3.3) Be implemented simultaneously with the elimination of all payroll taxes, self-employment taxes, the alternative minimum tax, the capital gains tax, estate tax and personal and corporate income taxes; 3.4) Be revenue neutral; 3.5) Prevent the federal government from levying an income tax; 3.6) Be based on net, not gross, income; 3.7) Not tax business-to-business transactions or services except for final consumption; and 3.8) Require a two-thirds majority to impose new taxes, or to increase tax rates.  And (4) We support the creation of a fair and equitable tax system.

AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations)
Also, last week, I met with Greg Jefferson, Legislative Representative, for the AFL-CIO.  (We are pictured above in the Canon House Office Building on Capitol Hill, the only place that we could meet due to our busy schedules.)  The 56 AFL-CIO unions represent 12.5 million working people.  During our conversation, I explained to Greg:
  • There needs to be a paradigm shift when it comes to collecting revenue to fund our national government. 
  • Income and payroll tax evasion is estimated to be at $600 billion and could double in the next five to seven years.
  • Tinkering with the current income tax system will not achieve the needed revenue.
  • The only sustainable funding for Social Security and Medicare is the Fair Tax Act, which broadens the number of people contributing to the federal revenue through a national sales tax, including over 40 million foreign tourists visiting America every year who buy goods and services. 
  • The “prebate" addresses regressivity by providing a monthly check to all Americans with a valid Social Security number to pay for national sales taxes up to the poverty level. 
  • Millions of good-paying manufacturing jobs would return to our shores, and our product exports would be more competitive with the elimination of the embedded corporate and payroll taxes.  In a recent survey, 400 out of 500 international companies said that they would either locate a manufacturing facility in the U.S. or move their international headquarters to America if the corporate income tax was eliminated.  
Further, we discussed the AFL-CIO policy recommendation process, whereby policies are recommended by their many affiliates and other organizations.  I told him that when I return to D.C. in January, I will start meeting with some of those organizations.  With part of my career in the manufacturing and education fields, I will focus on those organizations first.  It was a great first meeting, and we agreed to continue to work together to find common ground.

National Association of Home Builders
During my September trip, I met in D.C. with the following representatives from the National Association of Home Builders, pictured above with me:  on the left, Robert Dietz, Ph.D., Vice President, Tax & Market Analysis; and J.P. Delmore, Assistant Vice President, Government Affairs.  Since I worked on national housing policy for 15 years, this was a great opportunity to return to these policy discussions, and we spent an hour talking about the Fair Tax Act and the NAHB membership.  They were well-acquainted with the Fair Tax, and appeared very interested at the positive impact to the U.S. economy that would occur through trillions of dollars returning to the U.S. with the elimination of the corporate income tax as well as the increased international competitiveness for our exports without the embedded corporate and payroll taxes.  There was also discussion about transition issues, and we agreed to meet again to continue to explore those issues when I return to D.C. early next year.  NAHB has more than 800 state and local associations, and about one-third of NAHB’s more than 140,000 members are home builders or remodelers.  Their associate members are from the housing industry, such as mortgage finance as well as building products and services.
Congressional Appointments on Capitol Hill
In addition, I met with the following Senate Finance Committee congressional staff, and generally discussed tax evasion, Social Security sustainability, the prebate, and international competitiveness: 
  • Legislative Director/Tax Legislative Assistant Brian Appel with the office of Senator Michael Bennet (CO; Subcommittee on Taxation & IRS Oversight; also serves on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee, and Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee)
  • Tax Counsel Travis Norton with the office of Senator Tim Scott (SC; Subcommittees:  Social Security, Pensions & Family Policy; and Taxation & IRS Oversight; also serves on the Small Business Committee)
  • Tax Legislative Assistant Robert Gardner and Correspondence Assistant Ryan Eagan with the office of Senator Charles Schumer (NY; Subcommittees:  International Trade, Customs & Global Competitiveness; Social Security, Pensions & Family; and Taxation & IRS Oversight)
  • Tax Legislative Assistant Mike Quickel with the office of Senator Mike Crapo (IA; Chairman, Subcommittee on Taxation & IRS Oversight; Subcommittee member:  Social Security, Pensions & Family Policy; also serves on Budget Committee)
  • Tax Legislative Assistant Zach Rudisill with the office of Senator Rob Portman (OH; Chairman, Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility & Economic Growth; Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs & Global Competitiveness; also serves on Budget Committee)
  • Tax Legislative Assistant Maureen Downes with the office of Senator Mark Warner (VA; Subcommittees: Fiscal Responsibility & Economic Growth; and Taxation & IRS Oversight; also serves on Budget Committee)
  • Legislative Correspondent Robert Sneeden with the office of Senator Richard Burr (NC; Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility & Economic Growth; also serves on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee) 
I also met with Legislative Correspondent Payne Griffin with the office of Senator Jeff Sessions (AL; Committees: Armed Services; Budget; Environment & Public Works; and Judiciary).  Fairtax State Directors Chuck Bailey and Mary Lynn Bailey scheduled this meeting, and joined us via teleconference. 
On the House side, I met with the following House Ways & Means Committee congressional staff:
  • Legislative Director Michael Kirlin with the office of Congressman Patrick Meehan (PA-7)
  • Legislative Director Mike Stober with the office of Congressman Erik Paulsen (MN-3) 
It was a very busy schedule, and I am encouraged with the positive reception in congressional offices.  The time for tax reform is here, and the Fair Tax Act is the best option for true reform!  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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