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Chairman Boustany Opening Statement at Tax Policy Subcommittee Hearing on “Perspectives on the Need for Tax Reform”

May 25, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA) delivered the following opening statement’s at today’s hearing entitled “Perspectives on the Need for Tax Reform.”

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Today the Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the need for tax reform, to explore the drivers that are motivating the persistent calls for reform of our broken tax code.

“At the highest level, that need can be seen in our lack-luster economy over the last eight years and the absence of robust projections for economic growth looking forward. Since the recovery began in 2009, real GDP growth has averaged just 1.8 percent – far below the pre-recession average of 3.5 percent. Going forward, CBO projects potential growth of just 2.0 percent. While these shortfalls may seem small, they result in trillions of dollars of lost output and thousands of dollars of lost income for families. Slow growth is a choice – and our bleak economic future demands tax reform.

“Tax reform also is an imperative for small and large businesses alike. Our tax code simply isn’t competitive anymore. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world and a 50 year old international tax approach. While the U.S. tax rules become more and more outdated, our international partners are moving full-steam ahead to become even more competitive. And our inaction is costing us. American businesses are losing ground: American companies are getting acquired by foreign companies, new businesses startups are lagging, companies can’t expand as rapidly as they should, and capital investment is restrained.

“The need for tax reform is further evident in the mind-numbing complexity of the tax code and the enormous compliance burdens it imposes on families and businesses in this country. Today’s tax code consists of about 2.4 million words, with roughly 7.7 million words of regulations and countless more pages of case law, publications, and other guidance. Is it any wonder that taxpayers are frustrated, especially when they are paying more than $31 billion annually on software and professional tax preparation services just to figure out their taxes? Americans deserve a simple, straightforward tax system that does not waste their valuable time or money.

“Today, we have an impressive panel of witnesses who will share their perspectives on the need for comprehensive tax reform. With the input the Committee receives from today’s witnesses and from stakeholders across the board, the Committee has a responsibility to respond with a strong tax reform plan that is built for growth. We must harness these motivators for reform in order to advance the work to develop a new tax code that is ready for the next President to sign in 2017.

“To accomplish that goal, we should also consider ways to motivate tax reform from within Congress – approaches like the Tax Code Termination Act, introduced by our colleague, Chairman Goodlatte. In the words of Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform: “The idea here is simple, unite the proponents of the many competing replacement tax schemes to support legislation terminating the existing tax code by a certain time period to force action.” Mr. Norquist and Chairman Goodlatte are right. We need to look at every avenue to kick start the process within Congress and get a tax reform bill over the finish line.

“Without objection, Mr. Norquist’s full statement will be made part of the record.

“Before I turn to Mr. Neal for his opening remarks, let me thank our witnesses for taking time from your busy schedules to be with us today. We look forward to hearing your testimony.”