Congress, the time is now for tax reform to get our economy moving

It has been eight years since the end of a painful economic recession in the U.S, forcing the nation to make a decision turn boldly toward new opportunities or continue down the same path that has led to slow job gains and weak overall growth. The choice for America’s leaders, especially those in Congress, should be clear. The time is now for comprehensive reform that gets our economy moving.

The reality is that although the Trump administration and the 115th U.S. Congress inherited an economy poised for growth, the fundamentals for real growth are not yet in place. Americans are tired of stagnation and weak gains. They want robust opportunity and growth here at home. They want it now. But they won’t get the opportunity and growth they want without comprehensive tax and regulatory reform.

As many, including President Trump, have made clear, American businesses today pay some of the world’s highest taxes. While businesses in developed nations pay an average of 22 percent in taxes, American businesses pay nearly double that at 39 percent. These taxes choke expansion and stifle new jobs, not just for large corporations, but for small businesses that especially feel the pain of burdensome taxes. The minority-owned businesses I represent, like all businesses, simply want a chance to compete.

The best way to start down the path to real growth is through comprehensive tax reform and regulatory reform. And the best way to accomplish those goals is through Democrats and Republicans working together to free American businesses from the numerous restraints that hold back growth.

Congress can start the process of bipartisan reform by reforming regulations that are burdensome or altogether obsolete. This should include fixing an outdated federal tax code estimated to cost our economy an incredible $233.8 billion each year in productivity. This should also include reducing the federal tax rate for businesses of all sizes, bringing us closer in line with competitor nations. We must also fix a broken tax system to make it easier to operate inside of our borders than outside them, incentivizing businesses to keep jobs here in the U.S.

The National Black Chamber of Commerce has joined many others to speak in favor of the reform blueprint offered by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas). The Tax Foundation estimates this plan would produce a $2.4 trillion tax cut over a 10-year period by slashing corporate tax rates and overhauling our tax system. Recent estimates from the Tax Foundation paint a powerful state-by-state picture of job gains under the plan, predicting nearly 200,000 new jobs in California, more than 100,000 in New York, and a total of nearly 1.7 million new jobs nationwide.

We believe this reform blueprint presents a strong opportunity to create jobs for businesses of all sizes through tax cuts and to level the playing field for American businesses through border adjustments.

These tax reforms should be accompanied with equally sweeping regulatory reforms. There are simply too many rules, with many costing much more than they deliver. The price tag for just the existing regulations — not the mega-rules finalized in the past three years — amounts to more than $2 trillion a year, or about the size of Canada’s GDP.

That is why we have supported common-sense reforms such as the Regulatory Accountability Act that would require more transparency and public participation and the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act that would make agencies give the public plenty of notice when they want to settle a lawsuit with outside groups. With these new laws in place, we can prevent harmful and unnecessary regulations and use government to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit, instead of blot it out.

The message for our nation’s leaders is simple: we cannot afford another decade of mediocre growth. The time is now to come together in a bipartisan effort, acknowledge the nation's hunger for bold change signaled by the election of President Trump, and get to work.

Listen to American businesses that are telling you with a clear voice that taxes and regulations are broken and roll up your sleeves to reform them. Understand the desire of proud American businesses to keep jobs here at home and level the playing field so they can do that. Either lead or follow, but come together to act now. We cannot afford to wait.

Harry C. Alford is president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.