AP reporting via the Denver Post on this morning’s passage in the House by a razor-thin margin of the GOP’s latest budget plan, setting up a vote on a massive tax cut package that will either goose the economy to new heights or plunge the nation into a Kansas-style fiscal crisis wholly of the party in power’s own making:
The House on Thursday gave a significant boost to President Donald Trump’s promise to cut taxes, narrowly passing a GOP budget that shelves longstanding concerns over federal deficits in favor of a rewrite of the tax code that Republicans promise will jump-start the economy.
The 216-212 vote permits Republicans to begin work on a follow-up $1.5 trillion tax cut and move it through Congress without fear of blocking tactics by Democrats. The tax bill is the top item on the GOP agenda, would be Trump’s first major win in Congress — and, Republicans hope, a much-needed boost for the party’s political fortunes on the eve of next year’s midterm elections…
The underlying budget measure abandons the Republican Party’s longstanding promise to rein in deficits in favor of Trump’s boast of “massive tax cuts.” The measure drops proposed cuts to mandatory programs such as food stamps, though conservatives promise to take on spending cuts later.
Fiscal conservatives are of course eager to proceed to the cutting part, but politically that’s not considered a viable option right now–not after the pain that was to be inflicted on Americans from repeal of the Affordable Care Act sent Republicans into a political tailspin and ultimately forced them to abandon the effort under intense protests. For now, and presumably through the 2018 elections, the focus is on “painless” tax cuts, or at least relatively so, by allowing the deficit to balloon by up to $1.5 trillion.
Some less realistic cheerleaders of this effort, including the White House, would honestly have you believe that the economic growth produced by these tax cuts will result in a net increase in revenues, making those politically unpalatable cuts unnecessary at all! But again, that’s the same thing Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback promised when his state slashed taxes–and when it didn’t work, the legislature was forced to override Brownback’s veto of their budget raising taxes. The situation remains unresolved, with the state’s tax policy still out of whack and conservatives desperately trying to find a way to rationalize their tax cuts into not being the reason for the crisis.
Among Colorado’s congressional delegation, the only “surprise” in today’s party-line vote was Rep. Mike Coffman voting yes with Republican leadership instead of joining with the substantial number of dissenting Republicans (including Colorado’s own Rep. Ken Buck). In contrast to Coffman’s relatively deft handling of the health care repeal fiasco, this action puts him indelibly on record on a bill that could emerge as a major political liability in the next election.
Because make no mistake, folks. The bill is going to come due. In different political circumstances, it would be Mike Coffman saying so. The fact that he is not saying so, and in fact helped pass this supremely fiscally irresponsible legislation, is something the voters in his district will need to sort out for themselves.