In a time when the usage of the word “bipartisan” spawns cynicism among taxpayers across the 50 states, a recent bipartisan Senate bill stands out as an exception. “The Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2010,” introduced by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Judd Gregg (R-NH), is a serious bipartisan effort to overhaul our current tax code that most economists and business people agree constitutes one of the most damaging drags on U.S. competitiveness and economic recovery.
To succeed, Wyden and Gregg will need to swim against a tide of populist anti-corporate dogma and convince their colleagues to make the necessary adjustments to keep our economy competitive and flexible. Considering the fact that our nation has stood almost alone in having resisted tax reforms, and currently has the second highest corporate tax rate among advanced nations, tax reform is an urgent priority for promoting fairness and efficiency in our economy, restoring our economic freedom, and increasing prosperity.
America’s complex and investment-squashing tax code is a major factor in reducing our score in the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. As the 2010 Index reveals, since July 2008 more than 30 countries have introduced reforms in direct taxes or have implemented tax cuts as previously planned, despite the challenging economic and political environment caused by the global economic slowdown. The United States is not one of these countries. Not surprisingly, in light of such inaction (and other policy mistakes over the last year, our economy fell out of the top tier of “free” economies in the 2010 Index.
The Wyden-Gregg Bipartisan tax reform bill contains many solid proposals that would effectively overturn years of policy inaction and poor policy choices by the U.S. Congress and restore our economy on the path of economic freedom. One of the key features of the bipartisan tax reform bill is the introduction of a flat corporate tax rate of 24 percent, a significantly reduced rate from current 35 percent. If enacted, the new corporate tax rate would improve our Index fiscal freedom score by at least 6.5 points, and perhaps even more in light of the regulatory simplification and overall reduction of the tax burden that would ensue.
What does this score increase practically mean to our economy? The improvement in fiscal freedom triggered by a noticeably lower corporate tax rate could generate more than 300,000 additional manufacturing jobs and a rise of total employment by over 2 million by the end of this decade, as indicated in a recent Milken Institute study. Most importantly, if combined with other reform measures such as meaningful spending cuts, tax reform would enhance our overall economic freedom to a far greater degree, paving a genuine path towards restoring our economy as a “free” economy and creating more dynamic job creation.
While many economies around the world continue on the path of increasing competitiveness and flexibility, the U.S. has recently been moving in the opposite direction, simultaneously eroding our economic freedom with uncompetitive tax rates and ever increasing government spending, hampering dynamic private investment and retarding economic recovery. More than ever, it is the time to reverse the slide in our economic freedom. A good stepping stone to that would be to make bipartisan tax reform a reality.