Opinion: Tax reform key to a prosperous future


Georgians believe in the American dream – the opportunity to make an honest living and be a part of a country that continues to grow and prosper. A country in which they can look forward to an even brighter future for their children and grandchildren.

I’ve traveled throughout our state over my years in public service, meeting folks from every background and every region and hearing about how government policies affect our communities and our families. I’ve also built my own business and participated directly in the national, state and local economy through good times and bad. I’ve signed the front of a paycheck as well as the back. It’s these experiences that have led me to conclude that the single most important thing we can do to help our economy is to fix our broken federal tax code that penalizes hardworking taxpayers and job creators.

In Georgia, we’ve done our part to keep our state’s economy growing and we understand that it takes a motivated team approach to get positive results for economic growth. Our state recently was ranked number one to do business for the fifth consecutive year, thanks to the dedication, hard work and leadership of Georgia’s elected officials. We’re focused on the future.

In Washington, we need to use the same laser-focused approach to help our nation’s economy move well beyond the tepid growth we’ve seen for the last decade and become competitive on a global scale again. For too many families, the headlines of economic recovery haven’t translated to higher wages, while health care and other basic necessities have become more and more expensive. Tax reform, done right, is the prescription for easing the pain of weak economic growth and putting more money in taxpayers’ pockets.

In the second and third quarters of 2017, our national economy grew at an annual rate of 3 percent, despite devastating hurricanes. That’s significant and important progress. During the last eight years, economic growth hit 3 percent in two consecutive quarters only twice.

To achieve this level of quarterly economic growth more frequently, we must tackle our antiquated tax code. And we must do it now.

Comprehensive tax reform will be the engine of growth we’ve long needed to help make America the number-one destination for both domestic and foreign business investment. Job creators and hardworking, middle-class taxpayers alike will flourish.

Today, the United States has the highest tax rate for businesses among the top 35 developed economies in the world. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a growing exodus of U.S. companies moving their headquarters to locations with lower tax rates. Since 1997, dozens of companies have done just that, costing our U.S. Department of Treasury billions of dollars while reducing jobs, capital investment, and research and development in the United States.

A lower business tax rate, combined with updated rules for international companies to make American workers more competitive, will be a catalyst for economic growth in the United States. The new system will be simpler and fairer, with strict rules to prevent gaming. Tax reform will put America first and will end the incentives for the so-called corporate “inversions” that have sent American jobs overseas.

Nearly 94 percent of the potential customers for American farmers, manufacturers, and other producers live beyond our borders. Adopting a competitive tax system designed for the 21st century, with the same international rules nearly all of our trading partners already play by, will bolster the strength of U.S. companies and workers as they strive to win in the fiercely competitive global marketplace.

House and Senate leaders, and members of the committees that oversee taxes, including the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance where I sit, have spent the last four years holding dozens of bipartisan hearings on tax reform. In 2015, we laid out bipartisan tax reform options on paper to move the conversation forward on keeping American jobs at home and money in the pockets of the workers who have earned it. I look forward to the upcoming debate on the Senate Finance Committee to further advance tax reform.

Americans want to compete. Inherent in our country’s DNA, we are explorers, initiators, inventors, investors, and risk-takers. But our outdated tax code is holding us back.

Just as Georgia is the number-one state in our country to do business, we are confident that reforming our tax code will make America the number-one country in the world to do business. Tax reform will help restore the American promise and show the world that the United States will again be a world-class nation, a competitor to fear, and a land of great opportunity for every American.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is a member of the Senate Committee on Finance.



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