Yet, increasingly there is reason to question whether or not tax reform can actually become a reality.
It isn't just the difficulties Republicans have had coming together on health care.
While we are only 6 months into President Trump's term, we are one-fourth of the way through this two-year Congress and in practical terms, only six months from the first primaries of the 2018 election. In other words, time is quickly slipping away and a tax reform bill hasn't even been introduced in Congress or released by the administration.
From my time in Congress, I know that much of the work of getting a proposal enacted into law is what happens behind the scenes and when a proposal does come together, it can come together and be enacted relatively quickly. I still believe Congress can and will pass a significant tax reform bill this year.
But it is worth contemplating for a moment the consequences if I am wrong; if tax reform isn't enacted into law.
The political consequences are relatively straightforward. It isn't just that Republicans will have failed to deliver on a major campaign pledge, they will have failed on a commitment that is core to the identity of the party. Since Ronald Reagan, Republicans have been the party of pro-growth tax reform. Major tax cuts / reforms were enacted in 1981 and 1986. In the 1990s the new Republican majority in Congress lowered capital gains tax rates and created the per child tax credit. In 2001 and 2003, George W. Bush signed major tax cuts into law.
Failing to successfully act on tax reform in a unified Republican government, after the party campaigned on reform for a decade, would be catastrophic.
The political consequences pale in comparison to the economic ones. We have endured over ten years of below 3-percent economic growth. While America has had plenty of recessions, we have never experienced a lost decade before. Many economists are predicting that this is the new normal. And absent some big change, they are probably right.
While we need to get a lot of policies right to get back to the growth of the 1980s or 1990s, it is impossible to get there without comprehensive pro-growth tax reform.
Tax reform offers the promise of greater growth that creates new jobs and raises wages and take-home pay. Without tax reform, a decade of low growth could easily become a generation of stagnation. That would put a death knell in the basic American promise that each generation will be better off than the last.
When it comes to the economy, reforming the tax code isn't optional.
In the world of business, if something must be done, it will be done. American families and businesses are counting on the fact that, when it comes to tax reform, that maxim holds true in Washington. That partially explains their optimism about the economy. The clock is ticking and it is up to Republicans to turn that optimism into reality.
Commentary by Eric Cantor, the former House majority leader, who served as the U.S. representative for Virginia's 7th congressional district from 2001 to 2014. He is currently vice chairman and managing director at Moelis and Co. Follow him on Twitter @EricCantor.
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