The Trump tax plan has easily passed the House, and it’s on its way to the Senate, where it’s prospects are uncertain at best.
The goal is to ram something, anything, through the upper chamber so that Trump can finally score a legislative win before the end of the year.
Chris Krueger, an analyst at Cowen Washington Research Group, has described the Republicans as being “in a full-blown hurry-up offense” to get a victory, which means that the Senate bill needs to be considered with “no amendments, closed rules, rigid party discipline, and very little understanding of the legislation.”
When Sen. Hatch calls the opposition to tax reform ‘bull crap’, you know tensions are flaring
That kind of railroading is leading to a great deal of heated rhetoric on the Hill, with veteran Senator Orrin Hatch labeling opposition to the bill as “bull crap” in a recent Finance Committee hearing. “It takes a lot to get me worked up like this,” Hatch said.
The President pro tempore of the Senate – which basically means that he’s the longest-serving Republican in the chamber – has a reputation for civility and across-the-aisle camaraderie, but he knows how high the stakes are with this one.
If, after whiffing on repeal and replace of Obamacare and total collapse of any consensus on immigration, the Republicans fail to deliver on tax cuts, they’re looking at a massive Democratic wave flooding over them in 2018.
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin announced his opposition to the bill last week, based on the fact that the bill taxes “pass-through” corporations at the personal income tax rate, which would be higher than the rate paid under the lower corporate tax.
Johnson does have a point, but the solution should be to lower the “pass-through” rate, instead of keeping the corporate rate where it is. Unfortunately, Senate rules are such that any provision to lower rates would put them below their arbitrary and statically-scored $1.5 trillion threshold.
While Republicans whip votes to pass tax reform, President Trump is busy shaming potential allies
For his part, Trump is showing signs of desperation. In a tweet on Sunday afternoon, President Trump preemptively attacked Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona for a vote that hasn’t happened yet.
Sen. Jeff Flake(y), who is unelectable in the Great State of Arizona (quit race, anemic polls) was caught (purposely) on “mike” saying bad things about your favorite President. He’ll be a NO on tax cuts because his political career anyway is “toast.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
Except Sen. Flake is not a definitive “no” vote. Given that Trump has only a slight margin for error here with a slender 52-vote majority in the Senate, shaming a potential ally looks like a sure sign of desperation.
Susan Collins of Maine hasn’t announced an official position, but she’s all but said she can’t support it. With Johnson and Collins both out, Trump can only afford to lose one other vote. So far, Senators Rand Paul, Bob Corker, and Jeff Flake have all expressed misgivings about the plan.
(President Donald Trump speaks to the media during a cabinet meeting at the White House on November 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images.)