Note: This op-ed first appeared in The Daily Signal.

We all knew President Barack Obama’s lame-duck presidency would be bad, but for the millions of Americans who work at family farms and businesses, it’s about to get a lot worse.

As Heritage Foundation tax expert Curtis Dubay wrote at The Daily Signal, Obama is trying to sneak in a tax hike in his twilight days. His Treasury Department unveiled midnight regulations that effectively would increase the death tax to 30 or 40 percent.

If Obama channeled his desire and creativity in raising taxes into cutting spending, we probably would have a budget surplus by now.

In this case, the president’s creativity involves tinkering with well-established “valuation discounts” that families use to calculate their death tax liability.

These valuation discounts are one reason family businesses have been able to accurately calculate the burden of the estate tax—popularly known as the death tax—so the business or farm itself can be passed from generation to generation.

If these valuation discounts didn’t exist, then every time an owner died, a business essentially would have to overvalue itself, and thus be subject to a higher effective tax bill than the law intends. Farms especially are affected by this issue, and the estate tax generally, because it is a lot harder to sell off 40 percent of your farm than 40 percent of stocks or other assets.

If that’s not too much of a burden, imagine being a partial owner of one of these farms.

If you own one-tenth of your grandfather’s farm, you don’t have enough say in the future of the business to decide whether you want to sell off the farm or pay the 40 percent tax to keep it.

Such partial owners are faced with a choice: Either sell off your share for much less than it is worth or pay the government 40 percent of its value. For family-owned businesses, built with the blood, sweat, and tears of ancestors, this is an immoral choice for the government to force on people.

This issue affects workers, too. In cutting costs and selling assets to pay the IRS, many family businesses facing a tragic death and an ensuing death tax are forced to downsize.

For the economy as a whole, this means that millions of people who work for small businesses could lose their jobs, just because the Internal Revenue Service wants an added piece of the action if a business owner dies.

What’s good for the economy is when businesses grow and innovate. They shouldn’t have to plan to liquidate their assets to pay the IRS bill whenever an owner dies.

Democrats are floating a plan for a 65 percent death tax in order to “level the playing field.” This is no more than socialist planning by elites to confiscate property from hardworking Americans to pay for failed government programs and spending that won’t improve standards of living.

For the mega-rich who have enough money to structure their assets, this works just fine. For hardworking Americans who put everything they own into creating jobs and building their business, this is not an option.

Regardless of the bad economics behind the death tax, the Obama administration is going about it in the wrong way.

Deciding tax policy is a power enumerated solely for Congress. This is something that should be decided in the open with a robust public debate. The Founding Fathers believed this too, which is why they gave Congress, and the House in particular (the “people’s House”), the power to initiate tax laws.

If Congress doesn’t do anything, this will mean an even greater increase of out-of-control executive authority.

That is why I introduced legislation, the Protect Family Farms and Businesses Act, to halt the Obama administration’s backdoor tax increase. It would prohibit the administration’s new rule, or any like it, from going into effect.

The bill already has more than 20 co-sponsors and the support of more than 100 organizations.

Too much is on the line for too many for Congress to stand idle. The jobs of millions of Americans are at stake.

To Reform the VA, Congress Must Lead by Example

Lawmakers should get their health care only from the VA. Then they’ll be in a hurry to fix the substandard treatment.

September 13, 2016

Note: This op-ed originally appeared in National Review and is co-authored by Pete Hegseth.

No veterans should go without quality health care after the sacrifices they have made for our country. . . . The way our veterans have been treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a crime. . . . We are morally bankrupt as a nation if we cannot care for our veterans.

We all have heard elected officials make these statements. At this point, they have become platitudes. If a poll were conducted, 100 percent of Congress would agree with them. But despite the rhetorical consensus on providing care for our veterans, VA care has not improved adequately. Over the years, seven different programs have been created that allow veterans to seek care outside of VA hospitals, but veterans are still dying as they wait for care, getting shuffled around and lost in the bureaucracy.

If there is such wide support to fix the VA, why do these problems persist? There are many reasons. Chief among them is that the VA and their special-interest enablers have not been held accountable despite congressional reforms being signed into law.

We think it’s time for Congress to put their money where their mouth is — hence the introduction of the Lead by Example Act in the House of Representatives. The Lead by Example Act would do one simple thing: Make it so that members of Congress and their staff can receive health care only from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans know the struggle of waiting months to receive a routine checkup or common surgical procedure. Talking with many veterans, we’ve learned that they want their members of Congress to stand with them in solidarity until this problem is fixed for America’s finest.

Once members of Congress have to wait months for routine checkups or common surgical procedures, I’m guessing it won’t take long for them to see the desperate need to fix the problem.

When this bill receives a vote, we will have a clear count of members who actually want to fix the VA — and who are willing to put their own health care on the line to do so. The rhetoric of many members of Congress suggests they are ready to fix the VA, but when push comes to shove, knowing of the continued stories of access problems, will they be prepared to place themselves on VA care? In an ideal world, our veterans would be receiving care of such a high quality that members would actually want to get on the system. But right now, we have it backwards.

Even though it’s no longer on the front page of our newspapers every day, the VA is still broken. Just this past summer, more stories surfaced about veterans dying because of delayed care. Another shocking story came to light when a veteran committed suicide by lighting himself on fire in a VA parking lot because he had been denied timely care. These acts of desperation are cries for leadership; Congress must lead by example and answer that call.

Instead of simply continuing to make promises to fix the VA, we urge Congress to truly stand with our veterans in solidarity. After all the sacrifices veterans have made for our nation, it’s the least Congress can do.

— Warren Davidson is a Republican congressman from Ohio’s eighth district and a former Army Ranger. Pete Hegseth is a Fox News contributor, an Army veteran, and the author of In the Arena: Good Citizens, a Great Republic, and How One Speech Can Reinvigorate America.