You could feel the excitement on Capitol Hill last week! Pope Francis was at our nation’s Capitol, and Senators and other members of Congress got up earlier than usual in order to catch the bus to the White House, where President Obama was to greet the Pope. DC-based Sister John Mary and I met while we were walking from Union Station towards the Dirksen Senate Office Building, where we are pictured on this joyous and historic day. She would meet the Pope later that day as part of the welcoming Committee with other Nuns in DC. I would have a glimpse of those proceedings on TV in a member of Congress’ office, just before AFFT Chairman Steve Hayes and I went into a meeting with a congressional staffer.
While the Pope was able to address a joint meeting of Congress, Steve and I were busy meeting one-on-one with members of Congress or their staff. For this trip, I focused our efforts mainly on sitting members of the Senate Finance Committee. Considering the limited congressional schedule for this week, we were fortunate to have 17 appointments on Capitol Hill.
A Possible CoSponsor, Again! Senator Mike Crapo (ID), Steve Hayes and I are pictured above with a historic scene in the background, namely in the 1990s when a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party occurred by FAIRtax supporters. Both Senator Crapo and Steve Hayes were at that event so many years ago! After Steve and the Senator reminisced, the Senator said that he would consider becoming a cosponsor again — last time was when he was a Congressman in the 1990s. In preparation for this possible announcement, I left a FAIRtax lapel pin for him to wear. He is a member of the important Senate Finance Committee, serving as Chairman of its Subcommittee on Taxation & IRS Oversight and as a member of its Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility & Economic Growth. He also serves on the Banking Committee and the Budget Committee, and is the Chief Deputy Whip along with holding other key leadership positions. Senior Policy Advisor Mike Quickel joined us for this meeting.
While Steve was off visiting with Senator Jerry Moran (KS; Sponsor of S.155, Fair Tax Act), I met with Senator Deb Fischer (NE), pictured above. Nebraska FAIRtax State Directors Floyd Zabel and Rob Rohrbough along with FAIRtaxer Scott Petersen joined us via teleconference and were instrumental in scheduling this meeting. Senator Fischer serves on the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, and I explained to her the benefits of the FAIRtax for small business owners, especially the competitive advantages for exporting their products as well as elimination of payroll and income taxes. In addition, I mentioned the negative impact of the growing tax evasion on federal government revenues, and that most of this $500 billion evasion is due to overdeducting of expenses and underreporting of income on tax returns. Add to that the over $400 billion of tax compliance costs, and it’s easy to see that our current income tax system is inefficient and needs to be replaced! John McDonough on her staff joined us for this meeting.
In addition, Steve and I met with the following Senate Finance Committee congressional staff, and generally discussed tax evasion, Social Security sustainability, the prebate and international competitiveness:
- Tax Policy Counsel Alvin Chan with the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT; Chair, Senate Finance Committee)
- Tax Counsel Chris Conlin with the office of Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA; Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs & Global Competitiveness; also serves on the Agriculture Committee)
- Tax Counsel Chris Prendergast with the office of Sen. Tom Carper (DE; Subcommittee on Taxation & IRS Oversight)
- Legislative Director Jeremy Hekhuis and Tax Legislative Correspondent Alex Johnson with the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH; Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions & Family Policy; also serves on the Agriculture Committee)
- Deputy Staff Director & Counsel, Joint Economic Committee, Karin Hope with the office of Sen. Dan Coats (IN; Chairman, Joint Economic Committee; member, Subcommittee on Taxation & IRS Oversight)
- Legislative Correspondent Jenny Jacobs with the office of Sen. Bill Nelson (FL; Subcommittee on Taxation & IRS Oversight; Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs & Global Competitiveness); Steve Hayes is a constituent!
A FAIRtax Pinning Ceremony: Steve and I stopped by to meet with our congressional strategic partner and FAIRtax Cosponsor — Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (KS-2), a member of the House Ways & Means Committee. After we updated her on our FAIRtax activities on Capitol Hill and discussed strategy with her, I presented her with an official FAIRtax lapel pin, which she immediately put on her jacket (pictured above). Many thanks to Congresswoman Jenkins for her FAIRtax efforts!! Legislative Asst. Adam York joined us for this meeting.
FAIRtax Sponsor Congressman Rob Woodall (GA-7), pictured above, also met with us to discuss strategy on moving the Fair Tax Act (H.R.25) along in Congress as well as in the presidential debates. He may be sporting a new FAIRtax lapel pin soon, since his Tax Legislative Asst. Alex Poirot said that the Congressman’s old lapel pin is almost worn out, and I left a new one as a replacement. We continue to appreciate the long-term efforts and commitment of Congressman Woodall to passage of the FAIRtax!!
House Ways & Means Committee member Congressman Diane Black (TN-6), pictured above, met with us. She appears committed to tax reform, and now that Congressman Marsha Blackburn in neighboring TN-7 became a FAIRtax cosponsor recently, we are hoping she will consider becoming a cosponsor as well. In addition, I shared with her that her colleague, Congressman Jason Smith (MO-8) also on the House Ways & Means Committee, obtained approval from Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (WI-1) to become a cosponsor of H.R.25 and signed up recently! That permission allows any member of the Ways & Means Committee to support the tax proposal of their choice.
We now have 72 Cosponsors in the House and 6 in the Senate, plus one Sponsor each in the House and Senate — for a total of 80 members of Congress supporting the Fair Tax Act!!!
Other Appointments on the House Side
We also met with congressional office staff with the following members of Congress on the House side:
- Legislative Director David Eiselsberg with the office of Congressman Sam Johnson (TX-3; Chairman, Ways & Means’ Subcommittee on Social Security; member Joint Committee on Taxation); I am one of his constituents!
- Tax Counsel Chris Netram with the office of Congressman Vern Buchanan (FL-16; member Ways & Means’ Subcommittee on Trade)
- Energy Tax Legislative Asst. Allison Colden, Ph.D. (John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow) with the office of Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-5; member Ways & Means’ Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee)
- Tax Legislative Asst. Erika Brown with the office of Congressman Donald Payne (NJ-10; member Small Business Committee and Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax & Capital Access); NJ FAIRtax State Director James “Mil” Milroy scheduled this meeting for us.
If you are a paid subscriber, thank you! If you are a subscriber to our FAIRtax Friday newsletter but haven’t paid your annual dues, please join us with a financial donation to support our trips to Washington, DC, as well as our monthly infrastructure expenses, such as legal, accounting, research, website, email database, etc. You can make a one time annual donation, or a more sustainable $10.40 monthly donation through our 1040 Club. And yes, it’s aptly named after the very 1040 IRS form that we Americans would like to get rid of!!
We are making progress on Capitol Hill as well as at the state and local level, due in large part to our grassroots activists. As a volunteer, I am committed to passage of the FAIRtax to benefit all Americans. With your help, we can keep the momentum going!!!
Peggy Green-Ernst, MBA
Director, Government Relations
Board of Directors
Americans For Fair Taxation
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