“We want more dollars in local economies and in the pocketbooks of American families, not in Washington.”

By on February 3, 2021 in Featured News, News

Brady Outlines His Priorities on Ways and Means for this Year

WASHINGTON, DC — In remarks this past Monday before a virtual meeting of The Ripon Society, Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Kevin Brady (TX-8) discussed the panel’s agenda for the 117th Congress and his priorities over the next two years.

He began by addressing the current state of the COVID response and President Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal.  

“Even though COVID is a very stubborn virus and continues to attack the most vulnerable, I think there’s more good news than bad facing us,” Brady explained, “including having two vaccines already out there and a third on the way.  

“You need to look at the big picture, as the Fed Chairman said at the outset in March, our economy went from the strongest in 90 years to the worst in 90 years over a few weeks. We’ve never really faced anything like this before — ever. Thankfully, we came in with the strongest economy, one of the strongest on the planet, and that helped us. Our economy shrunk by about 3.5%. That is about half of what the experts predicted. So we beat expectations at about every level and we have gained back about 55% of the jobs we lost.  

“In general, for Republicans in the House, defeating the virus and rebuilding the economy are two of our biggest priorities. This $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill that President Biden has proposed doesn’t hit the mark. There is strong support for the vaccines, the treatments, the distributions, PPE, and funding for our schools and their additional costs. But my worry is that there’s very little in the proposal to actually stimulate this economy. Our focus needs to be on saving main street businesses getting the jobless back to work. How many jobs will this create? It’s a fair question. For nearly $2 trillion, we ought to know before the House starts voting next week on budget reconciliation.”  

First elected to the House in 1996, Brady served as Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee from 2015 to 2019. As Chairman, he was the principal author and architect of the  Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a historic plan that reformed the U.S. tax code for the first time since 1986. According to Brady, the fate of the law is in jeopardy now that Democrats are in control.  

“I think Democrats will look to repeal the  Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but I think the goal should be to make it permanent. The individual tax cuts and the small business tax cuts will create 1.5 million new jobs and create certainty. It would be controversial for them to raise taxes in good economic times, so it’s insane to do it as we’re trying to recover from a pandemic. We want more dollars in local economies and in the pocketbooks of American families, not in Washington.”  

Despite this break between the two parties in Congress, Brady believes there is still plenty of opportunity on the tax panel for bipartisan cooperation.  

“‘Retirement 2.0,’ which Chairman Neal and I introduced before we left last year, really takes the next step from the  Secure Act and really focuses not just on how current savers can save more, but on helping out those who don’t currently save. It’s a pretty large and stubborn group that we’ve never had much success with, and they are, for the most part, low-income individuals working for small businesses. Chairman Neal, to his credit, jumped at the opportunity to focus on them. I have high hopes for this legislation moving forward.  

“I think we also need to move forward and see if we can find some common ground on drug pricing. I think we can, especially on reforming Medicare Part D and some other changes. It’s time. I was here when Medicare Part D was put in place. We’ve learned a lot since then. It’s been a hugely successful program that came in under budget and the costs per month are dramatically lower than projected. It has a good base, but it needs to be updated in a bipartisan way.”  

Brady then took a number of questions from the virtual audience, beginning with whether there is any support among his Republican colleagues for raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.  

“This is one of those issues where the parties see things much differently,” the Texas lawmaker stated candidly. “We believe that the goal shouldn’t be to raise the minimum wage, it’s to get people off of it, into higher paying jobs, and getting them those skills they need to do that. We worry that this will lead to job losses especially among starter workers. If a small business in Texas has ten employees making minimum wage, they’ll have to come up with another $156,000 this year to pay for the exact same workers. There’s no extra income coming in to do that. So what happens? Traditionally, they reduce hours first. Then they won’t hire as many new people. Then they start cutting hours. You’ve got to figure out some way to survive that.  

“From our standpoint, we think it’s the wrong economic policy, especially since so many of our restaurants and retail people are fighting to survive right now, adding that extra cost is existential for them.”  

Brady was then asked to touch on the House vote to certify the Electoral College votes. To him, it came down to his fundamental view on the role of the U.S. Congress.  

“In my view, as a conservative looking at the Constitution, the right thing was to accept the electoral slates of those states. I know people had different viewpoints along this area, and I understand that, but I feel pretty strongly about the limited role Congress has in the Electoral College and why that’s important for us to maintain a limited role.”  

As for whether the events of January 6th stand in the way of Republicans and Democrats working together in the months ahead, Brady said he was hopeful they would not.  

“We’re going to have enough trouble finding bipartisan support on the key issues,” he stated matter-of-factly. “But, if the filibuster remains, Democrats are going to have to get bipartisan support on anything of importance. They can’t only be bipartisan in the Senate. It will be important to build that bipartisan support in the House as well.”  

The 24-year Capitol Hill veteran was then asked about the Biden Administration’s approach on trade and possible future agreements.  

“The President has been incredibly busy, but I think his new U.S. Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, is smart and aggressive. She knows her stuff and was hugely helpful in building Democrats’ support for USMCA. I feel like we’re going to have a good working relationship and I feel we’re going to be able to be really candid with her about where Republicans want to go and how far we can go.  

“I think the President needs to realize that there’s been a shift in the thinking on trade and that USMCA has elements that will be important to building bipartisan support. I think one of their biggest challenges will be what to do on tariffs, which President Trump used aggressively for a lot of regions, for a lot of trade incentives to come to the table that way. I think that’ll be one of their biggest challenges going forward, identifying a governing principle on tariffs.”  

Finally, Brady spoke about the Republican Freshmen class and the leadership he is already seeing from these new Members.  

“We have 43 new freshmen Republicans in the House. They are, frankly, the best class I’ve seen — women, minorities, and veterans — they are experienced and smarter than smart. We actually have what we call the ‘Texas Six Pack,’ our six new Texas freshmen. I think everyone feels really good about where we positioned this class to go.”

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. 

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