So, the Republican Party has done their best to pivot from healthcare (no surprise) to Tax Reform, believing that their years of preparation, and an underlying agreement on their policy platforms will win the day. Note the word agreement. Seems Ryan and McConnell forgot that their caucus includes moderates and conservatives.
So as you may have surmised, that pivot ain’t gonna be easy, regardless of the general agreements that republicans have that taxes are too high and complicated and that by cutting them America will see a massive boost in growth and productivity, because reasons (the math never checked out on that one but whatever). So, what’s the problem then? Well, it turns out there’s three things:
- They haven’t passed a budget:
One of the major ways to pass any big reform is the reconciliation pathway (remember that) which means that so long as the bill doesn’t boost the deficit over ten years, the bill only needs 50 votes to pass. Problem is the Republicans have neither presented nor passed a budget, which means they can’t use reconciliation. The democrats are willing to work with the Republicans to pass a budget, but they have demands, including prioritizing the middle class over the rich, and reducing the deficit as best they can. McConnell apparently doesn’t care about the deficit anymore and has rejected any cooperation out of hand. Well, good luck with that I guess.
- Conservatives want to see a bill:
The Freedom Caucus is demanding to see a bill before they provide any votes, reopening old wounds in the party, and reminding everyone that the Freedom Caucus loves to rain on everyone’s parade. As the leadership doesn’t yet have a bill, conservatives aren’t likely to be happy, which of course relates to the third problem.
- Conservatives and Moderates won’t necessarily work together:
Moderates are concerned about the proposed cuts in the budget, and want to ensure that tax reform is not solely to the benefit of the rich, and are also willing to work with the democrats to ensure a bipartisan consensus. Conservatives want more cuts, and most definitely won’t work with Democrats. See the problem here? Given that the moderates have recently developed a backbone, it’s possible this may derail the process, especially if they get support from Sen. Collins (Mai.) and the like.
So it turns out, Tax Reforms complicated. Imagine that. Unless Ryan and McConnell can either get their caucus to cooperate (which isn’t impossible but neither is it likely) so that they can pass a budget, much less actual Tax Reform, it’s very doubtful this ‘once in a lifetime chance’ will happen for them again and I don’t doubt the leadership knows it.
So, maybe America’s looking at tax cuts, and not reform instead? Seems about as likely at this point as anything.