Industry From the Hill: Politics & Risk the May 2023 issue

Potential on Tax Cuts & Jobs Act

Q&A with Rep. Jason Smith, R-Missouri and Chairman, U.S. House Ways and Means Committee
By Joel Kopperud Posted on April 30, 2023
Can you give us a brief overview of what you want to do as chairman?

Our priorities are focused on working class Americans, small businesses, and farmers. The American worker is the most significant and special resource that we have in our country. We need to make sure that the tax code, trade policy and healthcare policy are actually affecting them all in a positive way. When it comes to tax policy, we’re looking at those provisions of the tax code that help bring back our strategic supply chains, whether it’s creating more energy security, food security, or healthcare security.

We learned in COVID, over those couple years, that we were lacking in some very important areas. We need to not have that kind of issue again. We need to use the tax code and also trade policies from the Ways and Means Committee to help incentivize those products, those companies to be in the United States. And if not, to at least be our allies. We need the pharmaceutical companies. We need so many important drugs to be not all relying on China. We need to make sure that they’re either here or in some of our greatest allies.

When it comes to developing these policies, we’re doing things a little bit differently. I’ve been on the Ways and Means Committee for just over eight years. I know that’s a short time. But we’ve never had a field hearing the whole time that I was on this committee. The field hearing is whenever you leave the marble halls of Washington, D.C., and you actually just go outside and talk to Americans all over the place.

We actually had our first field hearing in West Virginia, to hear from small business owners, a coal miner, and some other workers just to hear the issues that they’re facing in today’s economy. It was amazing, the stories we heard—how a small-business owner who owns a restaurant in Petersburg, West Virginia, is struggling to find employees, how she’s struggling with the increased cost of all types of goods.

As you know, inflation has hit the highest it’s been since 1981. And that means that it’s costing everyone more to put food on their table, clothes on their backs, or gasoline in their cars. She gave real life examples. A box of frozen chicken wings used to be 40 bucks, and now they’re 160. Rent used to be $2,000; now it’s $4,500. That affects her customers and reduces the customers that can come there; they can’t afford the prices anymore.

Hearing the issues that real Americans have, and then trying to work on policies that can help fix it, should be the goal of every member of Congress. That’s what we’re going to transform the Ways and Means Committee into. I want the Ways and Means Committee whenever I leave to be known as The People’s Committee.

One issue our members care an awful lot about is some provisions that are within the Tax Cut And Jobs Act signed into law by President Trump. A lot of those provisions are going to expire in 2025 and present what could potentially be a significant tax increase on a lot of our members, depending on how you’re organized, whether you’re a 199A, whether you’re a C Corp or S Corp. Do you see any opportunity for relief and addressing that expiration date in this Congress before the next election

I hope so. I think there’s promising ground in some bipartisan tax provisions and making sure we’re delivering relief for small businesses and families. I’ve had good conversations with my counterparts over in the Senate. And I’m very, very hopeful.

As you mentioned, 199A is a provision that helps all small businesses. The majority of businesses in our country are small businesses; the majority of employees work for small businesses. We need to make sure that the tax code does not disincentivize growth and does not disincentivize opportunity. If this expires in 2025, you would see a substantial tax increase on all of these small businesses. So that’s why it’s important.

I’m glad it’s bipartisan. You have Republicans and Democrats working to keep this provision, which is extremely important. Then when you look at provisions that help working families, whether it’s a child tax credit, those are provisions that can be bipartisan, so hopefully we can get some of that resolved as well.

I actually see a lot of opportunity for bipartisanship on a lot of our issues. Can you talk a little about how you think bipartisanship is going to play a role in maybe getting some things signed into law?

It’s extremely important. Life is about relationships. You never know who you would think you would have zero in common with, and then after you pierce the veil, you figure out, wow, we do have some common ground. And that’s what you work on. I’ve made it a point.

I came in on a special election back in 2013. I was a class of one by myself. So I had zero friends. I didn’t know anyone. I’m this 32-year-old that just came to Washington, D.C., and I made it a point to just start setting up meetings with any member of Congress that would meet with me. It was not to ask for anything, Joel. It was just to get to know them, to find out where you would have common ground. It’s amazing the things that you would learn about people that you wouldn’t ever think that you would have anything in common with. I could go through a list of members that people would be like, “there is no way you’re friends with them.” But that’s what’s great about this country. We’re all so different. But we’re all Americans, and that’s what unites all of us. There are some things that are very polarizing that you’re just going to disagree on. But you’ve got to be respectful and be like OK, well, you have a different opinion here. That’s fine. Let’s work on something else.

Who’s your favorite member on the other side of the aisle to work with?
I’ve got several. It depends on the issue. I work with Senator Sinema. I work with Josh Gottheimer [congressman from New Jersey]. It’s a variety of people. On our committee, Terri Sewell [congresswoman from Alabama] and Jimmy Panetta [congressman from Alabama] are great members and good friends. There’s a lot of them.
What’s the number one issue that you’re hearing about from your constituents today?
The number one issue that I’m hearing is that they want me to fight to address all the different crises that they’re facing. Whether it’s the inflation crisis, whether it’s the energy crisis, whether it’s the debt crisis or the border crisis. They feel like there’s so many things coming on that they’re concerned with, and they just want me to fight to fix it.
Joel Kopperud Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, The Council Read More

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