Policymaker Profile Series – Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX)

Our first edition is a Q&A with U.S. Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX), who is leading efforts to overhaul’s America’s tax code. Congressman Brady has represented Texas’s 8th Congressional District, covering the northern outlying areas of metro Houston, since 1997. Congressman Brady is Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, which has authority over taxes, trade, Social Security, and a variety of social welfare programs. Formerly, he served as Chairman of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee and of the Ways and Means Committee's Health Subcommittee.

We spoke to Chairman Brady recently on his plans for tax reform.  

IPC: What are your top priorities in Washington, generally speaking? How will your priorities help small and medium-sized business in the manufacturing sector?  

Brady: My focus is on jobs and growing the U.S. economy. As Ways and Means Chairman, I intersect with that in a number of ways. First, with healthcare: creating affordable healthcare that works for small-and medium-sized businesses is very important for having a stable workforce. But we also have tax reform, and fixing this broken tax code remains my top priority.

My focus is on jobs and growing the U.S. Economy.

IPC: What are your chief principles that you will bring to the tax reform effort? 

Brady: The Ways and Means Committee has been working for five years for this moment because we recognize two things: first, that the code we have today is costly, complex and unfair. It has continued to drag our economy down, makes it harder for young people to find jobs, and is a major reason we continue to see U.S. manufacturing companies move overseas.

Second, we know this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Tax reform comes but once every 30 years. We’ve got a president who’s willing to lead, and we’ve got a House that’s already unveiling a tax reform blueprint, and the Senate wants to deliver as well. The stars are aligned for a very challenging, but important, opportunity to deliver on tax reform this year.

The stars are aligned for a very challenging, but important, opportunity to deliver on tax reform this year.

IPC: To promote broad-based economic growth and competitiveness, IPC supports tax reform that increases the R&D tax credit to 20% of qualified expenses; makes bonus depreciation permanent; and reduces overall marginal tax rates. What are your views on these issues?

Brady: We want a tax code built for growth. And while we’re doing that, we want to leapfrog America from 31st in the world for competitiveness back into the lead. That’s why we’re proposing a 33 percent cut in tax rates for businesses large and small. We want local companies to be able to spend more on their business and their workers.

We’re proposing full and unlimited expensing of business expenses in the year you purchase it. IPC members and their customers would be able to immediately write off from their taxes their investments in equipment, software, and technology. For companies that compete globally, they could bring their earnings back to be reinvested in America at a zero tax rate.

Border equal treatment is also important so that we can match what our competitors in China, Europe, Canada and Mexico do. We want to lift taxes off our “Made in America” products being exported, and tax all imported products and services equally in the United States, which matches what our competitors do. That would be incredibly pro-growth as well.

Part of our challenge is to make sure that we are listening to companies with global supply chains so that we understand how this provision applies to them.

Part of our challenge is to make sure that we are listening to companies with global supply chains so that we understand how [tax reform] applies to them.

At a Glance: Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX)

  • Age 62
  • Home: The Woodlands, Texas
  • B.A., University of South Dakota
  • Member of the Texas House of Representatives, 1990-1996
  • Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1997-present
  • Chairman, House Ways and Means Committee  

IPC: What is one of your most memorable experiences in Congress—perhaps one that made you realize something new about your job?

Brady: There are so many. No question that the day I was elected to chair of the Ways and Means Committee is among the most memorable, because of the impact that this committee has on so many American lives – like taxes, which affect 100 percent of our economy. Healthcare and trade are also important. Welfare, Social Security, Medicare: all of this, again, affects the lives of so many Americans. It’s a wonderful opportunity, and frankly I’m still pinching myself even today about the chance to lead this effort.

IPC: Outside of policy and politics, what do you enjoy doing for fun?

Brady: I have two teenagers, so anything I can do with them. My oldest loves to fish and weld. I’m not good at those, but I love hanging out with him. My eighth-grader loves football and baseball, and we love barbecuing as a family.

Personally, I love playing baseball. I played growing up, and I’m on the congressional baseball team. I’ve also got a couple of thousand songs on my iPhone.