What DC can learn from John Wooden (and Federalists) about being quick but not hurrying

UCLA basketball coaching great John Wooden is credited with saying, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” It’s an unofficial mantra among those of us helping to build the Federalist Party. As much as we’d love to compete for every election at every level in 2018, we aren’t going to rush it. That’s the mistake many parties have made over the decades.

Politicians in DC can learn a lot from the saying, particularly as the GOP puts forth a tax “reform” plan. What they’ve put together isn’t tax reform. It’s a handful of items from the Republican tax wishlist stitched together in haste with one single purpose: getting substantial legislation on the President’s desk and signed before the end of 2017. They feel they have to do this.

After promising all the great things they’d do if they ever had control of the House, Senate, and White House, for them to lay a legislative goose egg in their first year is too electorally damaging for them to bear. They feel the need to get something, anything on the books in President Trump’s first year in office or risk losing it all in the midterm elections. They may be right, but that doesn’t give solace to those of us who wanted real tax reform accompanied by massive spending cuts. The plans that were passed in the House and Senate were weak and loaded with challenges. Why? Because they hurried.

The spin machine is working overtime to make the plan more palatable. They’re defending against attacks on two different fronts. The first is the liberal narrative that they’re giving too many cuts to the rich and leaving middle class citizens in a lurch. The second is coming from right-leaning media and economic watchdogs who are finding flaws in the plan.

Richard Rubin at the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday:

That means a business owner’s next $100 in earnings, under certain circumstances, would require paying more than $100 in additional federal and state taxes.

As lawmakers rush to write the final tax bill over the next week, they already are looking at changes to prevent this from happening. Broadly, House and Senate Republicans are trying to reconcile the bills they passed, looking for ways to pay for eliminating the most contentious proposals. The formal House-Senate conference committee will meet Wednesday, and GOP lawmakers may unveil an agreement by the end of the week.

The possible marginal tax rate of more than 100% results from the combination of tax policies designed to provide benefits to businesses and families but then deny them to the richest people. As income climbs and those breaks phase out, each dollar of income faces regular tax rates and a hidden marginal rate on top of that, in the form of vanishing tax breaks. That structure, if maintained in a final law, would create some of the disincentives to working and to earning business profits that Republicans have long complained about, while opening lucrative avenues for tax avoidance.

How does a hole like this receive votes from a majority of Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill? Because they hurried. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only hole that’s coming to light.

What the GOP needs to do with tax reform is the same thing the Federalist Party needs to do with our development. We need to be quick but we shouldn’t hurry. When you move quickly and with a purpose towards an achievable goal, you increase the chances of being able to accomplish that goal. When you hurry, you make mistakes.

We’ve had moments in our first year when we’ve hurried. One thing we’ve learned over this short time is that it’s important to remain focused and not let our purpose go off on tangents. We are here to limit government, defend freedoms, and protect life. To do so, we have to systematically build the party structure without getting caught up in the daily onslaught of naysayers. We’re focused with our strategy. Now we have to continue to implement it.