House Republicans initially planned to release details of their long-awaited tax “reform” plan today (which isn’t reforming the tax code at all, the stuff that has been proposed so far is just another big tax cut for the wealthy), but Politico reported that it has been pushed back—with the plan to make the announcement tomorrow. If the GOP were a normal party that hadn’t failed to pass literally every major legislative priority under the Trump Administration, this delay wouldn’t be as big of a deal; but because the Republicans have demonstrated that they are not a ruling party, this delay is likely a harbinger of things to come. Plus, some major details have yet to be worked out. Per Politico:
Rumors of a potential postponement started to spread Tuesday afternoon. At the center of the problem were questions about how to pay for the proposed $5.5 trillion in tax cuts, since any major revenue-generator is certain to antagonize some powerful lobby or group of lawmakers who could defeat it.
“Our plan is to release the bill tomorrow,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady told reporters Tuesday afternoon, leaving himself some wiggle room for a delay. Asked whether the expected Wednesday release would be legislative text, Brady responded: “When we release the bill, it will be text.”
Got that folks? Tax “reform” is on its way…except we haven’t agreed on how to pay for it (the cut is equal to roughly 32% of U.S. GDP), and the text that will be released may not actually be text that can be passed into law. At the center of this eternal fraud perpetuated by the Republican Party is that when you actually do the math, their lie of “tax cuts pay for themselves” becomes hilariously untrue. Trump’s Treasury Secretary is wrestling with that dynamic as we speak. Per Bloomberg:
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is resisting a gradual phase in of the proposed 20 percent corporate rate out of concern the move wouldn’t boost economic growth as much as he’s anticipated, according to a Trump administration official and another person familiar with Mnuchin’s thinking.
The conflict is this: Mnuchin has calculated that slowly dropping from a 35% to 20% corporate tax rate would not create the growth required to pay for it—but immediately reducing it from 35% to 20% would require more money up front to pay for the cut—and the practicality hidden in this runs contrary to the Republican platform of not paying for tax cuts (or anything really). Plus, quirks in congress’ rules may force lawmakers to phase out a faster cut down the line—further harming their argument that a massive cut like this would fuel growth. The irony of the GOP’s historic upset in 2016 is that being in power has exposed the Republican Party as an entity which is unable to govern. They know how to campaign and deride government inefficiency, but they have no clue how to fix it (or possess the will to fix it).
Tax “reform” is the entire ballgame folks. It’s a central reason why so many conservatives held their nose and voted for Trump, and the expectation that something will get done has been fueling the stock market rally that Trump can’t stop bragging about. If “reform” fails, expect the market to fall—dragging our president’s psyche down with it.
Trump is historically unpopular, and Republicans in Congress have twisted themselves in knots trying to distance themselves from Trump, while simultaneously trying and failing to enact his agenda. Tax “reform” encompasses a wider ideological spectrum than health care does, and given their failure to pass a health care bill—plus the report that $5.5 trillion in tax cuts is not paid for—there stands little reason to believe that the Republicans can figure out how to pass this legislation too. If the tax plan does fail, we will have gone through an entire calendar year without a signature legislative accomplishment for our new president to point to as proof that he is getting things done. How do you think that’ll go over in the daycare that has become the White House?
Given Trump’s penchant for flying off the handle at the slightest provocation—plus the reports that he is closer to “Chuck and Nancy” than the milquetoast duo of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell—tax “reform” is a ticking time bomb sitting underneath the Republican Party. Trump has already lashed out at Mitch McConnell and other Republicans, and if they fail yet again to deliver our nincompoop-in-chief a “win,” Trump could spend much of 2018 publicly disparaging his own party. Keep in mind that it’s an election year, so if tax “reform” fails, we could find ourselves in a world where the president campaigns against members of his own party up for reelection (with the ultimate and hilarious downside being that Trump’s intervention helps elect a Democratic congress that impeaches him). Get your popcorn ready folks. If you thought the Republican health care plan was a clusterfuck, just wait and see how they screw up a more complex and politically consequential ordeal.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.