NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: Tax reform is happening, as long as Senate Republicans do their jobs

“This is happening. Tax reform under Republican control of Washington is happening,” House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin told rank-and-file members in a conference call Friday after Congress secured the needed support for the biggest tax overhaul since President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Republicans are on the verge of their first major legislative victory under Donald Trump’s presidency. They cannot afford to blow it now.

Members of a House-Senate conference committee signed the final version of the legislation Friday, sending it to the two chambers so they can blend the different versions passed by the two houses of Congress and get it ready for final passage this week.

Still, the critics continue to viciously attack the proposal and slam the GOP as if all Republicans only care about the interests of the rich and care not a whit about the rest of us. Not a single Democrat supports the bill or is likely to vote for it, and they and liberal pundits rip it apart every which way but loose.

That should be a pretty good indication that it’s nothing as bad as the left wants everyone to believe. Focusing only on those things that make them the angriest, liberals ignore the potential strength of the bill and the good intentions of Republican lawmakers who are coming together to make it happen.

“We’re very happy about this. This is bigger than the Reagan tax reform,” Ryan said, dismissing low public approval for the tax plan by pointing out that Reagan’s bill had just an 18 percent approval rating until its benefits became apparent once it was passed.

Under the bill, the current 35 percent tax rate on corporations would be cut to 21 percent. The bill would repeal Obamacare’s requirement that all Americans have health insurance or face a penalty. It would also drop today’s 39.6 percent top rate on individuals to 37 percent. The standard deduction would be nearly doubled, to $24,000 for married couples. The $1,000-per-child tax deduction would grow to $2,000, with up to $1,400 available in IRS refunds for families who owe little or no taxes. Parents would have to provide children’s Social Security numbers to receive the child tax credit, an effort to deny the credit to people who are in the U.S. illegally.

We’ve been frustrated at the inability of Republicans to advance their agenda (such as repealing Obamacare) when they have control of the presidency and both houses. Now it’s time they passed this bill and pushed our nation back on the track Ronald Reagan had us riding three decades ago. To fail to do so is unacceptable.