For a congressman, Dave Brat ranks way-above-average on consistency — which is not always a hobgoblin. He’s built his political career as an apostle of financial responsibility in the national capital of financial irresponsibility. “Washington takes the path of least resistance rather than sticking to principles,” he said during a recent meeting with editors and reporters from The Times-Dispatch. To his credit, the Republican representative from Virginia’s 7th District sounds ready to stick to his common-sense standards, even with his own party in control of the White House and Congress.
He’s all-in for tax reform — especially lower rates for corporations and the immediate expensing of their costs. “A corporate tax cut is the best thing you can do for the average person’s wage growth,” Brat said. Allowing companies to keep more capital for investment, he explained, helps them raise workers’ productivity, which is the only way to boost wages over the long run. The congressman also favors extreme simplification of federal taxes on individuals.
But he’s skeptical about one aspect of the House Republican leadership’s overall tax plan — a proposal to tax imports at the border. Brat said that’s a bad idea, but if it’s the only way to pass and pay for all the other benefits that will flow from a more sane and dynamic tax code, he would probably support the border levy “as a last resort.” He’s also wary of big-spending plans promoted by some fellow Republicans, including President Trump. “I want to see the tax piece in stone before I go forward on any of the big-spending agenda.” On infrastructure improvement, he raises the essential question: “Where do you get the money to pay for it?”
Brat supports repealing and replacing Obamacare, but he criticizes his party’s congressional leaders for taking so long to get a bill into the hands of members. All of the GOP plans in the works, he stressed, involve at least a two-year phase-in and pay attention to people with pre-existing conditions, so no one will have the hospital bed pulled out from under them. Regarding Medicaid, Brat supports block grants to the states, but on a per-capita basis to ensure that irresponsible states are not rewarded for past excesses.
The theme that binds Brat’s comments — and indeed has characterized his political career from its beginning — is a high degree of respect for the people’s money. He clearly sees it as a sacred trust, one that demands spending discipline and a reversal in the dwindling supply of rational economic policy emanating from the national capital. “No one’s looking out for the long-term interests of the country,” Brat said. That may be less true now that he’s in Congress.