EDITORIAL: A major overhaul on taxes

York Dispatch

Repealing the $4,050 personal exemption while doubling the standard deduction used by most Americans when they file their tax forms.

Eliminating the deduction for people with high medical costs.

Repealing the adoption tax credit.

Adding a clause to allow tax exclusion from sale of a home to apply only if the homeowner has lived there for five years.

Eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes — a hard blow to property owners in Pennsylvania.

Repealing the tax deduction for teachers to offset supplies they buy themselves for their classrooms.

Eliminating the deduction for domestic manufacturing.

Eliminating deductions for student-loan interest, tuition and education expenses.

Changes in the Child Tax Credit that would cut or eliminate the credit for millions of children in low-income families while adding it for many families making as much as $200,000 a year.

Those are some of the cons that Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and his staff found in the tax reform bill Republicans introduced to Congress last week.

When Vice President Mike Pence came to York County on Saturday, he said he had been sent by President Donald Trump "to listen and to learn."  And he did listen — to the selected people who were invited to the event.

Pence and U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta spoke to businesspeople from around the region during a visit on Saturday, Nov. 4, to Military and Commercial Fasteners Corp. in Manchester Township. 

Pence touted tax cuts to businesses of every size, saying that business owners with more money to invest in their companies would have more money for employees, suppliers and vendors.

More:Pence pitches tax reform plan in York County Saturday

More:‘Monumental challenge’ as action begins on GOP tax bill

Republicans in Congress pointed out the pros in their plan: simplifying the tax code by moving from seven tax brackets to four and eliminating many deductions while encouraging more people to use the increased standard deduction rather than itemizing; cutting the tax on businesses and corporations; and changing the estate tax so it applies only to estates of $10 million or more.

"We need to see tax cuts for the people of Pennsylvania, and we need to see it this year," Pence said Saturday.

And Congress' nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation found that the bill would lower taxes across all income levels over the next several years.

But then you get to 2023, just over five years from now, when that same analysis showed families with incomes between $20,000 and $40,000 and those making $200,000 to $500,000 will start paying more.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, begins the markup process of the GOP's far-reaching tax overhaul as members propose amendments and changes to shape the first major revamp of the tax system in three decades, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

And then there's the effect it will have on the national debt, which until recently Republicans were proclaiming would throw the country into chaos if it wasn't paid off immediately. The bill would add an estimated $1.5 trillion to the national debt.

If a tax reform bill passes, it will be the first major overhaul on the tax code in 30 years. Given the current Congress and administration's record on major legislation, there's no guarantee it will go through in any form, much less in its current state.

But in order to get anything done on this, Congress needs to take a serious look at every provision and have sound reasons for every change that is made.

Yes, we need tax reform. Taxes are too complicated, and there are too many loopholes. But handing out tax cuts to businesses while giving families tax cuts that will expire in a few years won't help in the long run. And doing that while also ladling on a new, huge pile of debt — that's no way to run a country.

So we're asking Congress to slow down, work through the process and look at things from different angles. Try to make the cuts last longer for average families, make the addition to the national debt smaller. 

Most of all, listen to the people you're supposed to represent. It's their money you're talking about, after all.