Republican tax overhaul moves a step closer

By Nathan Cinnamond

“This is what Republicans do. We cut taxes,” quipped Rep. Mike Simpson as he reflected on the House’s passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. He was one of 227 representatives to green-light the passage, and his terse assessment – of the bill that has proved anything but – seemed unduly simple – considering the house’s habit to over-complicate other pieces legislation – as we saw last year in the Healthcare Bill.

This bill – the largest overhaul of the federal tax code for thirty years – is not just an ideological victory but also a political one

Income tax cuts for low and middle-class earners are plucked straight from the Republican playbook. This bill – the largest overhaul of the federal tax code for thirty years – is not just an ideological victory but also a political one. It seems more than fair to say that for the last 7 years the Republicans have ‘occupied’ both Houses of Congress as opposed to ‘controlled’ them – thus, any sort of major legislative accomplishment on Trump’s desk before the year’s end would be clear progress.

Preliminary steps, you might say. Indeed, this is a multi-stage process and revisions are expected. The Senate’s Finance Committee is now in the process of marking up its own version of the bill. Should it inch past the two-seat Republican majority, a conference committee will then be formed for members of both Houses to develop a compromise bill.  One wonders about the merits of this direct negotiation versus the UK’s Commons and Lords system.

Any sort of major legislative accomplishment on Trump’s desk before the year’s end would be clear progress

It was even considered at one point that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would include repeal of the Obamacare individual insurance mandate – however, this was rightly characterised as rather desperate reach. Republican leaders fully understand the risk of pairing one top legislative priority with another – the healthcare bill was troubled by republican opposition that a less contentious issue like tax reform would be much less likely receive – and given added incentive by the looming 2018 midterms, the party knows it needs to start making progress.

Early forecasts already see the Democrats climbing to a majority in the House and, if this bill goes the way of many other pieces of Ryan-inspired legislation – the Republicans may well see themselves losing their control of congress.

Photograph: youthguyrob via Flickr

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