Curtailing congressional perks
Some politicians seek federal office in part so they can live an extravagant lifestyle paid for by American taxpayers. U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst is determined to curtail that type of self-serving behavior.
That’s why the Iowa Republican has just introduced legislation that would eliminate a tax break federal lawmakers crafted to benefit themselves.
“Iowans sent me to Congress to make Washington, D.C., squeal and that includes eliminating handouts to politicians,” Ernst said. “To achieve the ultimate goal of lowering tax rates for hardworking families and businesses, Congress is going to have to eliminate various loopholes and deductions in our outdated tax code. Congress should lead by example and offer up its own unnecessary tax break.”
With that in mind, she is promoting the Stop Questionable, Unnecessary, and Excessive Allowances for Legislators Act, also known as the SQUEAL Act. If it becomes law, this proposal would eliminate a provision of the tax code that allows Members of Congress to deduct, for income tax purposes, up to $3,000 annually in living expenses while in the Washington, D.C. area.
While this part of the tax code isn’t hugely expensive, it is typical of the thousands of special provisions that have been added to our nation’s tax laws to advantage people who have influence with lawmakers. Collectively, they make our tax laws thousands of pages long, waste taxes people pay and produce a tax system that almost no one believes to be fair.
Ernst’s proposal is a small step in the right direction. It’s adoption by the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives would show that the members of these bodies are serious about reforming our tax system to make it both fairer and less wasteful.
This legislation demonstrates that she views the pledges she made during her campaign for office as commitments to be pursued vigorously. That’s an example we wish more of her colleagues in Washington would emulate