CREW Network President Alison Beddard and I represented CREW Network at the recent Real Estate Roundtable (RER) meeting in Washington, D.C. RER is the leading association advocating for commercial real estate on Capitol Hill. It brings industry leaders together to interface with members of the U.S. Congress and get an insiders' perspective on what is happening on issues that impact the industry, such as tax reform, the economy, and national security.
RER Chairman Bill Rudin, Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL), and Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX).
Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL), chairman of the Tax Policy Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, spoke to the group about the question of whether pro-growth tax reform is possible.
Congressman Roskam noted that the committee has come up with a “very reasonable framework” for tax policy reform. He stated that he intends to get to yes on reform while noting that all of the cumulative work on tax policy has helped us get to this point. He said that “we cannot stay where we are on this…we have a chairman who continues to drive us toward consensus.” In closing, he added that we are not really reforming tax policy, but actually modernizing it.
Congressman Brady stated that he is committed to engaging in a constructive way and noted that he and Congressman Roskam are focused on tax code for growth. He expressed appreciation for RER’s support on pass throughs. He said the Committee needs to be mindful of unintended consequences of tax policy. “We need to be sure we are chasing real growth without compromise,” he said. “We are heading in the right direction,” he stated, with regard to the framework and working toward consensus.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and CEO of RER Jeffrey DeBoer.
Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) joined the discussion later in the day and noted that there are three principles that must be followed for tax reform to be successful: 1) It has to be credible - it has to pay for itself; 2) It has to be fair – at the end of the day, middle-income taxpayers should not have to pay more than they do today; and 3) some consequences take time to become apparent, but we have a deadline of November 15. We need two years to understand consequences. “We need a tax bill that will stand the test of time, and we really need to work together to get there,” he noted.
RER Chairman Bill Rudin and CEO of JP Morgan Chase Jamie Dimon.
Switching gears to the economy, Jamie Dimon, Chief Executive Officer of JP Morgan Chase stated that we have to “grow up as a nation or we’ll be stuck in the mud ... America has the best hand ever dealt…we have food, energy, water, etc.” he added. He noted, however, that regulations are killing business, calling out Dodd Frank and Basel III. His candid comments about the state of business and the impact of regulation were refreshing. He closed by noting that we’re at the end of a regular business cycle, but the industry says fundamentals are good. “No one says the cycle is 10 years, it might be 12,” he stated.
The day ended with an insightful look at gathering and understanding intelligence. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper shared his insights about how intelligence has evolved. With regard to Russia, he noted, “I’m a Cold War warrior, and they are not our friend. They pose an existential threat.” He touched on social media and how Russia “infiltrated our election” and we didn’t have a rule book to deal with it.
The meeting was an important mix of topics and leaders to provide a variety of perspectives on where we are in the industry, how tax policy may affect the industry and the way we leverage information, and how it impacts the U.S. A terrific variety of speakers and insights made for a powerful meeting.