Remember tax reform? Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal. The question is whether it will get through the Senate and ultimately to PDT’s desk. It’s a question I wish I had an easy answer to but, frankly, things are very much up in the air. However, we can break down where everything stands to see where we might be headed. If I HAD to guess, I’d say they find a way to get this thing pushed through, if for no other reason than the GOP can’t survive without some kind of legislative accomplishment. Remember, politicians understanding nothing if not self-preservation. So let’s take a look at where we’re at.
First off, while there have been many minor changes, two big things remain: the lowering of the corporate rate from 35 to 20%, and (more importantly, IMO), the repeal of the Barrycare individual mandate. I’m actually surprised that the mandate repeal has survived to this stage. I figured the RINOs would have killed it by now. Interesting. It’s still there, though, and with it stands my hope for a productive bill.
The sunset provision on the individual rate cuts remains as well, unfortunately, but at least they’re getting cut for a few years anyway. Folks in liberal states, I’m sorry to inform you that, at least at this point in time, Uncle Sam still refuses to subsidize the high tax lifestyle your local commies have put in place. I know it sucks, but hey, maybe it will provide the impetus needed to get your local officials to lower their rates. That could be a very good thing long term.
So, now that we have the big picture of the bill, let’s check the scoreboard (or as political nerds call it, “whip count”) for votes on the Hill. Remember, if every Democrat and Independent votes against it, which appears will be the case, the GOP can only afford to lose 2 votes, with VP Pence providing the tie-breaker. Thus, it’s extremely important to keep track of every single vote, because they all matter…big time. Here is the list of Republicans who could make life hard these next couple weeks.
THE ‘NO’ GANG:
Steve Daines (R-MT) — Daines just became a ‘no’ vote today. His main concern is that it favors large corporations over small businesses. He believes smaller businesses will be put at a competitive disadvantage against the big boys and wants goodies in the bill to be redistributed according to his concerns before coming over to the ‘yes’ camp, although he’s offered no concrete examples of what he’d like to happen. I wouldn’t classify Daines as a hard ‘no.’ He’s put out several statements about his optimism toward getting to a yes and how he plans on working overtime with his colleagues to get it done. I think this is more grandstanding than anything, honestly. The individual mandate repeal by itself offsets any perceived advantage corporations have. See, corporations can afford Barrycare regulations. Small businesses can’t. That gives corporations a huge advantage over the little guys. But I’m sure there are a few more things that can be thrown in to bring him on over. I don’t expect him to keep the coochie cap on his head.
Ron Johnson (R-WI) — Johnson will be a harder ‘yes’ to get than Daines, but not impossible. His beef is that the bill doesn’t do enough to help “pass-through” businesses. If you’re unfamiliar, “pass-through” refers to how individual owners of a business pay taxes on income derived from that business on their personal income tax returns. Pass through taxation applies to sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S-Corporations. He’s talking a little tougher than Daines, saying, “If they can pass it without me, let them. I’m not going to vote for this tax package.” But he’s also said he’s optimistic he can get to “yes” and is still negotiating with leaders. Honestly, he’s probably just waiting for internal poll numbers from Wisconsin to improve. He’s in a very purple state. PDT had to work his ass off to rip Wisconsin from Democrat hands, and he’ll likely have to wine and dine Johnson to get him where he needs to be. Or Turtle McConnell will have to offer him the chair of some committee. Welcome to politics, folks! Ain’t it grand?
THE ‘MAYBE’ GANG:
Liddle Bob Corker (Disgruntled Midget- TN) — Liddle Bob is still yelling about the deficit. We all know he’s still pissed about not getting any of the jobs he interviewed for, though. And also being so unpopular in his home state than he won’t run for reelection. And that time PDT called him out for his trash talk on twitter. There are about 50 “and’s” I could add to this list but your eyes are probably bleeding from the tax info already. I’ll keep it moving. You get the point, he’s like a scorned woman.
Susan Collins (Abortion Enthusiast – ME) — Collins says she is “still trying to change” the bill. She didn’t elaborate, but I can pretty much guarantee it has to do with the Barrycare mandate. Frankly, I can’t believe she’s not on the ‘no’ list. There must be some sort of political maneuvering going on behind closed doors to have her on the fence like this. There’s no telling what they offered her. Her own Planned Parenthood clinic maybe?
Jeff Snowflake (Latent Homosexual – AZ) — Here is what ole Open Borders had to say regarding his stance on tax reform: “I remain concerned over how the current tax reform proposals will grow the already staggering national debt by opting for short-term fixes while ignoring long-term problems for taxpayers and the economy. We must achieve real tax reform crafted in a fiscally responsible manner. I look forward to working with my colleagues during a full and robust debate on the Senate floor to deliver on that goal.” Flake, like Liddle Bob, is a card-carrying member of the #HeBrokeMe club, so his critiques of the bill are likely a load of crap meant to conceal his personal grudge, of which it isn’t doing a very good job.
James Lankford (R-OK) — Lankford said today that he wants to vote for the bill but is concerned about the debt. I’ll take him at his word. Either way, I think he’ll eventually come on over.
Cooter McCain (Sky-Screamer – AZ) — Last time Cooter seized on the opportunity to screw over PDT (the healthcare debacle), he used process as his excuse. He felt that the bill had been shoved through Congress and not given its proper debate time, aka “regular order.” He can’t use that excuse this time around, so he’s pretending to be concerned about the deficit. Mr. “Let’s go spend another $6 trillion nation-building in the Middle East!” suddenly has deep concerns about getting our financial house in order. I would laugh if it weren’t such an insult to our intelligence.
Jerry Moran (Who the hell even is this guy? – KS) — Moran doesn’t want the Barrycare mandate to go anywhere. He’s also concerned about the deficit and has raised concerns about a provision of the House bill that would tax qualified tuition waivers as income. That should make him popular with the “free college” Bernie bros. I think he ultimately comes over to the ‘yes’ side, though. He doesn’t carry a big enough stick in the Senate to make too big a wave.
Lisa Murkowski (Undocumented Democrat – AK) — Oddly enough, Murkowski actually backs the repeal of the Barrycare mandate; pretty crazy considering she was one of those who torpedoed the Barrycare repeal earlier this year. It must be more politically expedient now, as it was back when she friggin ran for office on repealing Barrycare. She hasn’t given her support to the full bill, though. I’m waiting to get details on exactly why.
THE ‘YES’ GANG:
Everyone else. Duh.
Frankly, I would be more concerned with the #HeBrokeMe members in the ‘maybe’ camp than the 2 Senators who have put themselves in the ‘no’ camp. The ’no’ folks can be persuaded with minor changes/political sausage-making on the Hill. Jeff Snowflake, Liddle Bob Corker and Cooter McCain are a bigger danger to sink the ship. Or in Cooter’s case, set it on fire.
The one thing we have in our corner regarding those folks is their personal grudgers would be transparent were they to vote against the bill. People are already wondering whether they’ll allow their personal feelings to affect their voting, and a ‘no’ vote would only reinforce that notion. The reason that works to our advantage is politicians care deeply about their legacies. If they torpedo this bill for personal reasons, they’ll become known for it forever. Voting on serious issues based on personal grudges isn’t a good look and it’s certainly not a great way to be remembered. Cooter McCain has shown a willingness to go ahead with it anyway, but he did preempt his Barrycare betrayal with complaints about “the process” to give himself cover for when the ole thumbs down came out. I don’t think any amount of preemptive complaining will conceal the obvious grudge attached to a ‘no’ vote this time around. Then again, his hatred is deep. He may very well be just fine with going out like that.
As to the multiple Senators with concerns regarding the deficit/debt, that comes down to economic theory. Conservatives believe that lower taxes don’t necessarily equate to lower government revenue. In fact, the Reagan years demonstrated the exact opposite. The idea is that by lowering tax rates, more taxpayers are brought into the system. An expanded tax base = more revenue, even with lower rates. In other words, a lot of people paying a low rate brings in more money than a few people paying a high one. You either believe that will happen or you don’t. If you believe lower taxes will starve the government, then you complain about the debt. If not, you don’t see it as an issue. Or, in some awesome cases, people welcome the government’s starvation. It would force them to reel in spending, at least theoretically. Seeing as how we’re operating on borrowed money already, I’m skeptical.
In any event, as I stated before, if I HAD to bet I’d say they get it done. You probably won’t want to know how it’s done, as it will definitely require a lot of backroom wheeling and dealing, but the GOP is fighting for its political life. It’s for that reason that I think they’ll find a way. But even then, I give them a 60% chance (at best).
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