2016 has solidified itself as one of the most consequential years in U.S. political history. Analysts and media outlets projected the Democratic Party to maintain the White House and gain control of the legislature. Furthermore, the incoming President of the United States would have the authority to nominate a crucial Supreme Court justice who would tilt the balance of the court. This Supreme Court nominee, in addition to the potential vacancies left by retiring Supreme Court justices, would alter the balance of the court for the next three or four decades.
November 9, 2016, however, began a much different course course for the next half-decade than expected. American citizens awoke to a country dominated by the Republican Party that controlled the three branches of the federal government as well as many state legislatures and gubernatorial positions.
Not since the onset of the Great Depression has the Republican Party held such power.
While this election’s outcome is a blessing for the Grand ‘ol Party, Republicans must utilize this opportunity to display fiscally conservative values while practicing limited government.
Long-Overdue Tax Reform
With Republican majorities in most parts of government, corporate and personal tax reform are most likely to pass in the next year or two. Corporate tax reform, otherwise known as the ‘Trump Tax’, would be welcomed by American multinational corporations that currently stockpile their wealth in countries with more competitive tax rates.
As it currently stands, the U.S. boasts the highest corporate tax rate of developed countries in the world. The U.S. is often compared to Social Democracies like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands, but these Northern European states have corporate tax rates are at least ten percent lower. In other words, American corporations are incentivized to move abroad in order to accomplish their ever-present primary goal, to maximize their profits and shareholder wealth.
Personal tax reform, on the other hand, will allow individuals to keep more of their own money and reinvest it in the economy. Our economy has been growing at less than three percent for the last few years, a sign of a healthy but not thriving economy. In order to surpass three percent growth, the economy requires fiscal stimulus via tax cuts. Tax reform is long overdue, not accomplished to the necessary extent since the Reagan Administration of the 1980s.
The Immigration Problem
In addition to tax reform, the GOP must seek bipartisan immigration reform. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. has remained constant at around 11.2 million individuals. From the 1990s until 2007, that number had increased to roughly 400,000 per year, but the Great Recession caused relative stagnation in illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants consist of 3.5 percent of the nation’s population and account for five percent of the civilian labor force.
Reform is necessary to reduce uncertainty among the illegal immigrant community. Republicans campaign for stricter immigration policy, which has unfortunately mislabeled them as a party of xenophobia. This mischaracterization is wholly unfair and misleading. A path to citizenship for illegal immigrants rewards those who violate the law and penalizes those who have waited years to obtain their legal status.
Illegal immigrants come to the United States for a variety of reasons, including economic gains, familial relationships, higher standard of living, and better access to higher quality healthcare. President Trump and the Republican majority have an opportunity to put forth legislation that both moderate Democrats can support. A bipartisan bill should allow current illegal immigrants to retain permanent status to the United States, without awarding them citizenship. This bill should also penalize law violators to pay back a fraction of their back-taxes. This legislation will allow families to remain whole, while not rewarding those in violation of federal law with citizenship.
Bipartisan legislation will likely be proposed, but a highly polarized political climate might forbid any real legislative movement for immigration reform. Future immigration legislation must address the complexities and the increasing burden of deportation costs while respecting the rule of law that has held this Democratic Republic together for the past 241 years.
Both in the realm of tax reform and immigration legislation reform in specific, the GOP has a golden opportunity to show the American public it is serious about common-sense reforms, and they must fulfill their promises before the 2018 midterm elections, lest the political pendulum swing back to the left as it often does.
—Mitchell Nemeth is a Senior studying finance. He is the President of Young Americans for Liberty at UGA and a first-time contributor to THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE.
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