When YG Network released Room To Grow -- our book of conservative reforms for a thriving middle class -- this spring, our proposed tax reforms set off a lively debate wherein some of the more old-fashioned members of our conservative movement argued we were wrong to promote reforms that focused on middle-class pocketbook priorities alongside broad-based economic growth.
Their point seemed to be that, when it comes to reforming our tax code, you can't be both pro-family, and pro-growth. They were sorely mistaken.
As Room To Grow contributor Yuval Levin writes, conservative tax reform should focus on "lightening the burdens families face where they are heaviest and removing the obstacles to growth where they are greatest and most harmful." In other words, tax reform can -- and should -- be both pro-family and pro-growth.
And those are the same conservative principles behind a new proposal by Senators Mike Lee and Marco Rubio to reform our tax code in a way that grows our economy while lightening the burden on hardworking families. As Reihan Salam, who was himself instrumental in producing Room To Grow, puts it, Rubio and Lee are at the forefront of a new conservative agenda which "explicitly, and creatively, advances middle-class economic interests," including the need for strong, sustained economic expansion.
The main tenets of Rubio and Lee's plan are straightforward and grounded in common sense: simplify the income tax into two simple brackets, end the marriage penalty, and eliminate the penalty on hardworking parents by substantially increasing the child tax credit. Lee and Rubio also support lower taxes on the direct investment businesses need in order to create jobs. As Room To Grow contributor Ramesh Ponnuru notes, these reforms would give us "a simpler business tax system, more investment in the U.S. and less corporate debt."
Not only would Lee and Rubio's reforms help grow our economy, they would expand Americans' freedom by eliminating some of the costliest barriers to raising children in our country. As the Senators write, responding to conservative critics, "the end goal of economic policy isn't simply growth, but freedom--clearing the obstacles from each American's unique pursuit of happiness. Millions of Americans up and down the income scale choose to invest their personal economic freedom in children and not just in commerce--in human and social capital rather than just financial capital. We believe it is wrong to punish such a choice."
Not only can conservatives offer reforms that are both pro-growth and pro-family -- we absolutely must do so in order to earn the trust and support of millions of Americans who are working hard to raise families and make a middle-class living. As Rubio and Lee write, 21st Century conservative reforms must not only "revive the American dream," but also "make it more attainable for more Americans than ever before."