Senate’s tax reform bill does not address concerns of rural Americans

The Senate’s tax reform bill is complex, and its impact unclear. That is especially true for rural America, where entrepreneurship dominates the landscape, and federal-state programs provide needed support to low-income and the elderly.

On the whole, the massive increase in the deficit is alarming. A $1.5 trillion increase in the deficit over the next decade will need to be accounted for in roughly $150 million annual increments. Federal budget documents suggest these deficits will be made up through cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and other tangential U.S. Department of Agriculture and farm bill programs.

As consideration is given to the demographic and economic realities of rural America, where populations are aging, incomes are more limited, and economic activity can be stunted by a stagnant farm market, programs like Medicare and farm subsidies are critical safety nets for rural residents and communities.

We support tax reform. We know the tax burden on small businesses and middle-income earners is too high, and the time for change is overdue. But, the Senate bill in its current form does not address these concerns. Instead, it adds to the deficit while handing out tax breaks to the highest earners while demanding sacrifices from everyone else.

We call on the Senate to pass a tax bill that works for the middle class and improves the outlook for all of rural America.