The immediate focus of the outcome of the Alabama senate race is what it means for the future of the Republican Party.
We're more concerned with what it means for the future of Colorado — specifically the consensus tax bill House and Senate Republican reached agreement on Wednesday.
Democrats, naturally, are calling on majority leaders in both chambers to delay a vote on the tax bill until Senator-elect Doug Jones is sworn in. That doesn't appear likely.
But Jones' surprising victory over Roy Moore has diminished the GOP's majority in the Senate from 52-48 to 51-49. What this means is that every GOP senator, including our own Cory Gardner, has a little more muscle to guard constituents' interests. Once Jones is seated, the GOP can only afford for one Republican senator to break ranks and still pass a bill. Two defectors will kill a bill. Gardner has an opportunity to demand certain assurances in exchange for his support of any measure.
One of the reasons we supported Gardner in his senate bid was to have one senator from each party representing Coloradans. Call it a hedge against the shifting political sands. The way things have broken since Gardner dispatched incumbent Democrat Mark Udall, he's the U.S. senator from Colorado in a position to decide whether any GOP-backed legislation makes sense for Colorado residents.
Gardner and Democrat Michael Bennet are a formidable one-two punch, often collaborating on Colorado-specific legislation. At their best, they represent the epitome of bipartisanship, putting aside party playbooks to advance Colorado interests.
Tax reform, however, isn't something they agree on. We're of the mind that the tax bill is slap-shot policy making. A tax cut for the point of a political win and not to address a problem in the economy strikes us as fiscally irresponsible. Gardner is supposed to be a "real" Republican in a purple state. That should compel him to force a conversation about tax policy and ask the tough questions about how the compromise bill affects Coloradans.
We'd like Garner to explain why federal tax reform is a good idea if it causes Coloradans to pay more in state taxes and forces legislative cuts.
As the Sentinel's Charles Ashby reported, the measure would increase taxpayers' gross income, which in turn would increase the taxable income they must claim when filling out the state income tax form. In other words, Coloradans will pay more in state taxes.
It would also lead to increased revenues for the state, which could put us in another TABOR-imposed revenue bind, which may ultimately result in reduced services.
The tax bill's impact on nonprofit and graduate students alone should give Gardner pause. There's simply no reason to rush a bill through Congress that falls short of what a tax reform plan should do — promote growth without worsening the debt.
We need a serious discussion about whether now is the time to inject the power of a tax cut in an already healthy economy.
It's not too late for Gardner to insist on improvements to the compromise bill and restore the GOP's original version of fiscally responsible and pro-growth simplification of the tax code.