“I think ‘13 is the year to reform the tax code.”

In Speech to The Ripon Society, Roskam Discusses Ways & Means Effort to Lay the Foundation for Tax Reform

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6) appeared before a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society yesterday morning, delivering a speech in which he not only praised the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee for his work to lay the foundation for comprehensive tax reform, but predicted that 2013 will be the year that Congress gets this important work done and passes a tax reform bill. 

“There were people at the beginning of the Congress who said, ‘Comprehensive tax reform? That is a complete pipe dream and you are wasting your time,’” Roskam stated. “Dave Camp, to his credit, stuck with it. His argument was, ‘Look, the way to ensure that you don’t reform the tax code is you don’t do the work. If you don’t do the work, you are never ready and it’s not going to happen.’ So his attitude was, ‘Let’s do the work. Let’s have the hearings, let’s build the record, let’s build the base, and create an environment so that when all the stars line up — and they will line up — the committee is ready.’ 

“If you had to use one word to describe the work — I mean not one paragraph, not once sentence, not one phrase, but one word to describe the work and the vision that the committee wants to go — it is competiveness. How do you create the most competitive tax jurisdiction in the world? How do you do that? And that is where the lion’s share of the committee’s activities have been. I think there is a perfect storm developing — a high level of dissatisfaction with the tax code in its entirety. No one is happy with it. There is not a single voice in the public square that can defend it. Nobody. You’ve got an environment where the ‘01 and the ‘03 tax cuts are upon us, along with, you name it, every other catastrophic issue collapsing down at the end of the year. So you’ve got this environment where it’s possible to move forward, and I think there is a real opportunity on that. I think ‘13 is the year to reform the tax code.” 

Roskam is a member of the Ways and Means Committee who also serves as the Chief Deputy Majority Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition to discussing why he believes reforming the tax code is good policy, he also explained why he believes tax reform is good politics. 

“I think the reformation of the tax code is the remedy to really move forward on a bipartisan win,” he said. “Here is what I mean by that: if you operate on the assumption that both sides want to come up with something — which is not the case right now based on how I think the President is approaching this — but if you operate on the assumption that both sides want to come to a deal and figure this thing out, both sides can walk into that debate and claim a win. That is what everyone needs. You walk into the debate, claim a win, and walk away. More importantly, let the other side get a victory lap, too. Who cares? … If you understand the realities of economics, if we do this and if we create a growth agenda, then we are going to get more federal revenue coming in. Therefore, it’s win-win. I would suggest that there aren’t a lot of situations that are like that — that transform a lot of other areas in our public life.” 

In addition to his remarks about tax reform and his praise for Chairman Camp’s handling of the issue, Roskam also had good things to say about the 2010 Republican Freshman Class and how the Members of that class have handled all of the issues that have been thrown at them during their first months in office. 

“The new Members have basically come here to do something and not to be somebody,” Roskam observed. “There is freshness to that. You can’t bottle that. You can’t recruit that. It bubbles up within one’s self, and these Members, by and large, were provoked into running for Congress based on what they saw — the President, Speaker Pelosi, and Harry Reid turning this whole thing into a goat rodeo. They said, ‘You know what? I am off of my tail. I’m going to make a race for Congress.’ Many of them ran, as you know, in races they had no business running in. Then, all of the sudden, they are Members of Congress. I’ll tell you what — they are doing a good job … They are being proactive, they are participating, and they are making some changes. Before they came, the entire operating assumption of this town was how much money can we spend? They come into town, and while they haven’t enjoyed the success that they wanted based on the complications on the battlefield … they have fundamentally reframed the debate. And that is a big victory.” 

Roskam concluded his remarks on an upbeat note about his vision for the future and his commitment to seeing that vision through. 

“I think what’s going to happen is that we’re going to end well. I think our country is going to figure this out. I think we are going to be on a glide path that creates an opportunity society again where capital is easy to form. The entire economy that we all grew up in had one operating assumption that we never even articulated. It was just an assumption, and the assumption that we have completely been immersed in, is this: ‘If you work hard, keep your nose clean, make more good decisions than bad decisions, and come up with a great idea, you have a shot at making something. Something big, something great, something transformational. You’ve got a shot at doing it.’ 

“We’re not some stratified society where you have a whole class of people who are pressing their nose up against the glass looking in and trying to participate. This is America, and I think these are values that are really worth articulating, and are worth defending. I, for one, refuse to be defensive about a value system that has created more prosperity and more freedom for more people than the world has ever known. That’s worth fighting for. That’s worth getting up every day and saying, ‘You know what, I’m in that fight. Put me on the field.’ 

“So my attitude is this: ‘If this job ever turns into just issuing press releases and walking in parades and being called Congressman, then give it to someone else. But as long as we are fighting for those core values, and we’re making a change and you’re making a difference on the long term trend of this country, then I’m in this thing win or lose. I’m in this thing, and wild horses couldn’t pull me out.” 

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.