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113th: The Congress of Reform?

By Katie Vlietstra

The 113th Congress is underway and it seems that both Democrats and Republicans have latched on to the idea that they will be defined by the efforts they make to reform two of America's most complicated issues: taxes and immigration.

Tax Reform

The issue of tax reform has long been a goal for House Ways and Means Chair David Camp (R-Mich.), who in the 112th Congress successfully laid out his comprehensive tax reform blueprint, Pathway to Job Creation through a Simpler, Fairer Tax Code Act of 2012 (H.R. 6169). The blueprint lays out an aggressive schedule to expedite the process for both corporate and individual tax reform, including requiring the House Ways and Means Committee to report out a bill no later than April 30, 2013.

The blueprint calls for eliminating tax preferences that allow individuals and corporations to essentially pay no federal income taxes, capping the top individual and corporate tax rate at 25 percent, and creating a territorial system that would allow U.S. corporations to bring profits made from overseas operations back to the U.S.

The proposal is bold and the timeline aggressive, but just maybe Camp will be able to usher through the single largest reform to America's broken tax system.

Immigration Reform

Once again the herculean task of reforming America's immigration system is being tackled by a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators: Senators Schumer (D-N.Y.), McCain (R-Ariz.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Graham (R-S.C.), Menendez (D-N.J.), Rubio (R-Fla.), Bennet (D-Utah), and Flake (R-Ariz). The group recently released a plan, the "Bi-Partisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform."

The framework includes four legislative pillars: creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, reforming the current legal immigration system, establishing an effective employment verification system, and improving the process for admitting future workers to serve our nation's needs.

The NASE is most interested in the creation and development of an effective employment verification system and its potential impact on the micro-business community. We plan to advocate for a system that does not create an undue administrative burden.

A Productive Congress?

Congress is famously unproductive. However, given that the White House and Congressional leaders have signaled their intent to address these two major items within the next year, we might just see one of the most productive sessions of Congress in our lifetime.

Katie Vlietstra is Director of Government Affairs for the NASE and provides critical insight to policymakers on issues affecting our nation's self-employed. You can contact her at

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