The Wall Street Journal
By: Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Mike Lee
September 23, 2014
Too many Americans believe the American dream is slipping away for them and their children. They see their cost of living rise while their paychecks remain stagnant. They see an economy that benefits stockbrokers but not stock clerks. They see the ladder of economic opportunity being pulled farther up and out of their reach.
This isn’t the result of a mere cyclical downturn in the U.S. economy, but rather a fundamental transformation. In recent years, old industries have fallen, new ones have risen, the skills required for high-paying jobs have evolved, and the competition at all levels is increasingly global.
Despite these dramatic changes, the policies and practices of Washington remain stuck in the 20th century, leaving too many Americans unable to access the enormous potential of this new era.
If we hope to realize a new American Century, many institutions and government programs will need to be updated, reformed or replaced. Both of us have spent a large portion of the year proposing such reforms.
Perhaps no function of the U.S. government is more antiquated and dysfunctional than its tax system, so we are joining together to propose a federal tax-reform plan that will remove obstacles to investment, innovation, growth and opportunity.
The current tax code taxes too much, taxes unfairly, and conspires with our outmoded welfare system to trap poor families in poverty, rather than facilitate their climb into the middle class. Our reforms seek to simplify the structure and lower rates. How? By consolidating the many existing income tax brackets into two simple brackets—15% and 35%—and eliminating or reforming deductions, especially those that disproportionately benefit the privileged few at everyone else’s expense.
In addition, our plan would eliminate the well-known marriage penalty, which imposes higher taxes on married couples than if they had filed individually. It would also take aim at another pernicious distortion—the parent tax penalty—that is more prevalent, if less understood, even by its victims.
Today, parents are, in effect, double charged for the federal senior entitlement programs. They of course pay payroll taxes, like everyone else. But unlike adults without children, they also shoulder the financial burden of raising the next generation of taxpayers, who will grow up to fund the Social Security and Medicare benefits of all future seniors.
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