Politico reports on the party-line votes yesterday in the U.S. Senate to kick “tax reform” into high gear–moving ahead with plans to slash taxes on most Americans, but especially rich ones, in exchange for $1.5 trillion (with a ‘T’) added to the deficit:
GOP leaders, as well as House Budget Chairman Diane Black and Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi, have been ironing out their difference and crafted a Senate amendment full of House-requested tweaks. Because the Senate adopted the amendment during its marathon “vote-a-rama” Thursday, the House could clear the fiscal blueprint as soon as next week…
House sources say it’s likely that conservatives will back the accord, given their desire to move to tax reform. The House Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee had been pushing for a quicker timetable, which sources say this budget allows.
Two House sources said the emerging agreement would allow for the House’s higher defense spending number later in the year, something House defense hawks pushed for up to the last minute. The language suggests Republicans plan to raise strict spending caps on the Pentagon, without offsets if need be — something crucial to getting House Armed Services panel members on board.
The deal, however, allows both chambers to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion via tax reform, matching the Senate’s tax number, one Senate source said. The House had called for a deficit-neutral tax package.
As Politico reports, House Republicans wanted to offset at least $200 million of these tax cuts with proposed cuts to welfare programs, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected that plan. The numbers in the budget “framework” passed yesterday, say Republicans who approved it, don’t mean as much as the procedural power the vote gave Republicans to pass their tax plan without the 60 votes nominally required–thus bypassing Democratic opposition to this wildly irresponsible process.
The point here is that Republicans have committed to the first step, huge tax cuts, without even trying to show how to pay for those cuts. They don’t want to publicly commit to cuts to programs the public supports, which when you get down to it is most programs, so the legislation allows for the possibility–opponents would say certainty–of massive new deficits with the hope that the tax cuts will trigger economic growth that negates the revenue loss. It’s the same logic used by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to justify unsustainable tax cuts–and when the promised economic boom never ensued, the state’s budget fell apart.
But that’s not what matters today. The only objective now is to jam those tax cuts through, and deal with the consequences later! In the highly likely event that the tax cuts fail to work their “Laffer Curve” magic and counterintuitively grow revenues, the same Republicans who passed these tax cuts will use the deficits that result as their excuse to demand the program cuts they don’t want to own today.
Democrats unsuccessfully pleading for fiscal responsibility from the “party of fiscal responsibility,” and then taking the blame for deficits they did not create, is truly one of the more maddening dynamics in modern American politics. It has happened every time Republicans have passed or otherwise forced “tax reform” in recent years, followed by the inevitable call for “tough choices” when reality doesn’t meet their unrealistic forecasts–and it is being set up, right now, to happen again.
At some point, Americans will connect both sides of this monumental scam. But it hasn’t happened yet.