“We have the know-how and we have the ingenuity to do this, and we’re ready to help as we reopen.”

Brady Offers Solutions for Getting America Back Up & Running

WASHINGTON, DC – As cities and states across the country initiate the first stages of opening back up for business, The Ripon Society held a virtual discussion last Thursday with a Congressional leader who has become the go-to Republican on Capitol Hill when it comes to creating and passing public policy that strengthens the U.S. economy.

That leader was U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (TX-8), a 23-year veteran of Capitol Hill and the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee. He kicked off his remarks by evaluating the work done by Congress so far to combat the effects of the global pandemic.

“This is an unprecedented challenge, no question about it,” Brady stated. “Members of Congress are back home making sure the elements of the CARES Act are reaching the people we wanted it to. Whether it’s funding for hospitals and schools, aid to state and local governments, PPP loans that have been so crucial to small businesses, or chasing down stimulus checks for folks, there’s a lot of work being done to get things up and running again.”

And, Brady added, there’s clearly a lot of work left to do.

“We’re still continuing to fine tune a number of these issues, and the programs don’t cover every circumstance. We are a complex economy and businesses are structured in so many different ways. So, like other Members, I continue to tackle those issues. I did note the paycheck protection program reached another milestone last night — four million loans and over half a trillion dollars now injected into those local businesses for their payrolls. I think the program’s been incredibly powerful, certainly back here in Texas.”

Brady also discussed his recent appointment to serve as a member of the President’s Task Force on Reopening the Economy and some of the priorities the group is likely to pursue.

“We’re recommending that we prioritize the same pro-growth policies that made us the most competitive economy on the planet,” he stated. “Keep taxes low, incentivize businesses to invest, and make work pay off for workers.”

To achieve those priorities, the Texas lawmaker laid out four possible solutions.

“First is to make work pay,” he said. “I think we all can agree that the $600 a week federal unemployment benefits, for about half of America’s workers, pays them more to stay unemployed than to get back into the workplace. That’s unhealthy. It’s unhealthy for the worker long term and it’s unhealthy for the economy. It’s going to prolong this recession unnecessarily. So, we have a proposal to turn that $600 a week unemployment check into a return to work bonus, where workers can keep two weeks of that – $1,200 – as they transition back into the workforce. This will incentivize them and also help businesses rebuild their workforce.”

“Second, we know there are going to be expenses for redesigning the workplace, whether it’s related to testing and protective gear or reconfiguring your plant, office space, or retail space. So, if needed, we have developed a Healthy Workplace Tax Credit. As all of you know, I hate more tax credits – and I really hate temporary ones. Nonetheless, I think an incentive focused on 2020 can help businesses as we reopen.”

“Third, we need to incentivize businesses to make the U.S. more medically independent just as we are energy independent. Too many of our production lines – crucial production lines – are located with unreliable partners. We have a tax proposal that would help accelerate some of those production lines coming back to the U.S., if not wholly. We need to make sure that these supply chains are reliable, resilient, and dependable in future challenges like this, especially for crucial medicines, medical supplies, and ingredients as well.”

“Then finally, a lot of families have seen their retirement savings depleted pretty dramatically. We have several proposals to help workers replenish their savings accounts by lifting contribution limits and allowing catch-up provisions across age groups. We can protect lives and we can protect livelihoods. We’re smart enough. We have the know-how and we have the ingenuity to do this, and we’re ready to help as we reopen.”

Following his remarks, Brady was asked a number of questions, including one about future legislation Congress may consider to kick-start the economy and whether he thinks a payroll tax holiday should be included in the bill.

“I’ve never in the past been a big fan of it,” he said, referring to the proposal. “But right now, things have changed. If faced with the choice of another round of stimulus checks or some other type of economic boost, at least the payroll tax holiday is a 7% pay raise for workers.”

Brady was also asked for his thoughts on trade with China and whether the pandemic has caused members of Congress to change the way they are approaching the issue.

“My sense is that members of both parties are now less interested in seeking a level playing field with China and more interested in seeking a decoupling from China,” he stated bluntly.

“It’s been a pretty dramatic move. Between the ongoing trade disputes, the problems with the supply chain, their behavior with regard to covering up the virus, and their social media hacks to try to discredit the U.S., I think there has been a dramatic degradation in our relationship.

“As a result, what I sense is far more interest in not only the decoupling from China, but in limiting investment in China and limiting their investment in the U.S.

“I think the seriousness of it is reflected in Leader McCarthy’s China Taskforce. I would pay pretty close attention to that.”

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.