- - Monday, November 20, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Trump has something extra to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: a the long-awaited tax cut bill, passed by the House and en route to the Senate. As he marks the season with the traditional pardoning of the White House turkey, Republicans in line for similar clemency will get it only if the voters can find it in their hearts to forgive a plodding, inefficient (did someone say “incompetent”?) and lazybones Congress.

The lower chamber approved the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Thursday in a 227-205 vote, taking a large stride toward reforming the nation’s tax code that Republicans promise will put more money in the pockets of the nation’s vast middle class. The vote came after Mr. Trump visited Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to vote aye. Afterward, he tweeted, “#TaxCutsandJobsAct — a big step toward fulfilling our promise to deliver historic TAX CUTS for the American people by the end of the year!” (Capital letters and exclamation point, just one this time, the president’s own).

The bill is meant to reduce tax bills by consolidating tax brackets and reducing the rates and doubling the standard deduction for individuals and families. To hear the Democrats tell it, the House passed a turkey with neither cornbread dressing nor cranberry sauce, saying reform would primarily benefit wealthy corporations and explode the deficit. Democrats upset by deficits, imagine that.

Sometime after Thanksgiving, the Senate is expected to vote on its own tax reform bill that does away with federal deductions for state and local taxes, a provision that would complicate reconciliation with House members representing high-tax states. Senate Republicans have further jolted the drafting process by adding in a measure to repeal the Obamacare individual mandate that requires Americans without employer-based health insurance to buy a government-compliant policy instead, or pay a substantial penalty.

Democrats vow to vote against any bill that would nullify elements of Obamacare, a revered relic of the Obama administration which Democrats revere as if it were the shin bone of a martyr. All those furrowed brows, wringing of hands and cries that tax cuts would add $1.4 trillion to the nation’s debt are mere stagecraft. The donkey party kicked up no fuss when Barack Obama doubled the national debt in eight years.

While Democrats buck passage of tax reform, a few wayward Republican senators are threatening to join them. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin grumbles that the bill would favor large corporations with a 20 percent tax rate, as compared to 25 percent for small businesses. If the bill fails, though, companies large and small will have him to thank for keeping their current tax rates of 35 percent or larger.

Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona have bristled over the prospect of adding to the national debt, but they’re on the scout for something to bristle over and be remembered for as they leave town for good. Businesses allowed to keep more of their own money would likely use their new-found wealth to fire up the great American economic machine by hiring new workers and expanding factories. Laurence Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University, writes that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.

The Republican tax reform plan may not add up to a banquet fit for a king, but it’s no turkey, either. Senators demanding more gravy risk spoiling the feast. If President Trump does not have a congressionally approved tax cut on his desk by the end of the year, Congress, and particularly the Republicans, will pay for it next November. Senators, who are consumed by their own self-importance, should think about this when they pass a mirror. The wise and deeply sagacious image they see is invisible to everyone else.

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