Weekly Columns

New Year Brings New Hope for East Tennesseans

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Washington, January 3, 2018 | Lani Short (202-225-6356) | comments

As we begin the New Year, I want to take a moment to share my gratitude for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve you in Congress. While there’s no question there’s still much to do, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made toward delivering on our promises to improve the lives of all Americans.

On December 22, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, the first major overhaul of our tax code in more than three decades. By seizing this once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide tax relief to every American family, Congress has delivered one of the key pillars of President Trump’s agenda. Since the bill was signed into law, many businesses have announced their intention to raise wages, give hardworking employees bonuses or upgrade their training programs and facilities.

In our neck of the woods, East Tennessee is already feeling the benefits of tax reform. First Horizon National Corporation (First Horizon) – which holds a total of 350 branches of First Tennessee and Capitol Bank in the states of Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas and Virginia – announced they would give one-time bonuses to “employees who don’t participate in the firm’s regular bonus plans.” First Horizon cited the connection of these bonuses to tax reform. Other employers like Aflac, AT&T, Bank of America, BB&T Corp, Boeing, Comcast NBCUniversal, SunTrust and Wells Fargo – to name a few – have also announced higher wages or bonuses for their employees. I’m proud that during this Christmas season, hardworking families were able to experience economic relief not seen since President Reagan’s era, and that’s because of the new tax reform law.

The benefits from this law are just beginning. Starting in a couple months, employers will have new withholding tables based on the lower tax rates, so many employees are going to see larger paychecks. Despite these tangible, positive impacts, our Democratic colleagues have declared the bill “Armageddon.” If you have heard the rhetoric and come away wondering whether this bill will benefit you, let me say this as clearly as I can: it almost assuredly will. The average household of four in the First District will receive a tax cut of more than $1,500, on top of the boost to the economy through higher wages and bonuses. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see how more money in the pockets of hardworking American families is the end of the world.

In the last year, in addition to the tax reform package, we’ve also worked hard to make progress on President Trump’s other agenda items. The President ran on the promise of securing our border and protecting our nation; growing our economy, creating jobs, and eliminating wasteful regulations; providing relief from Obamacare while Congress works to repeal and replace it; and working to make the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) a place where our heroes can access the services they’ve earned – just to name a few. There’s much to do in the years to come, and we certainly have our work cut out for us, but we’ve already made major progress toward these goals. In fact, the House of Representatives has now passed legislation to support every pillar of the president’s agenda. As Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I’ve been working hand-in-hand with President Trump and VA Secretary Shulkin to ensure our nation’s heroes are well taken care of after they’ve sacrificed so much to defend our freedoms.

This past year was one of great progress; but we have much to accomplish in the next month and year ahead. It’s time to cut wasteful spending, control future spending and allow the government to pay its bills. By January 19, Congress must pass a comprehensive spending bill in order to fund the government for the rest of 2018. Also, while the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act repealed Obamacare’s burdensome individual mandate, it’s important that we keep pursuing patient-centered health care reform to replace the Obamacare disaster that is causing skyrocketing health care costs for some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

We have a full year ahead, and I am optimistic that our legislative agenda will restore confidence in the American Dream. I am proud to represent the First District of Tennessee and look forward to the bright hope we have in the year ahead of us.

Feel free to contact my office if we can be of assistance to you or your family. 

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