- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Republicans’ work on taxes isn’t done yet, with lawmakers saying last month’s once-in-a-generation tax overhaul still needs more tweaks — and left open the door for another round of tax cuts.

Some colleges and universities are clamoring for protection from a new excise tax on school endowments, and a number of other “corrections” are also needed to fix the nearly 700-page bill, sped through in just a couple of weeks in December.

Whether Democrats will cooperate with the GOP remains to be seen, but rank-and file conservatives hope to make things tough for Democrats by offering legislation to make the individual tax rate cuts in last year’s bill permanent.

“I think what we will see is a real push to make the tax cuts for individuals permanent,” Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican, said on CBS this week. “I think you will see a vote on that in the first 30 days of this new year for those moms and dads on Main Street.”

As written, the new individual tax rate cuts expire in eight years — a gimmick GOP leaders used to meet budget rules limiting the total tax cut to $1.5 trillion.

Republican leaders have also hinted that there could be technical changes to the bill forthcoming, as the IRS pieces through how to implement major provisions of the bill in time for this year’s tax season.

“The idea that tax policy discussions stop at this point is absolutely not true,” Rep. Peter Roskam, who chairs a tax policy subcommittee on the tax-writing Ways and Means panel, said recently on Fox Business Network.

But Democrats have said the early talk of making fixes has already exposed the process as broken.

“You’re supposed to not move with reckless haste so you aren’t going to need to make so many corrections down the road,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

Democrats say the tax cut bill is so bad that voters will punish the GOP in November, and they’re unlikely to cooperate with any efforts to repair problems.

Instead, their focus will be on attacking the new law. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced in a letter to colleagues Tuesday that Democrats plan to hold “teach-ins” on Jan. 13 to educate the public on what she described as the “GOP tax scam.”

No Democrats voted for the tax cuts, forcing Republicans to use a fast-track process known as budget reconciliation to pass their bill without having to face a Democratic filibuster.

Without Democratic help for tweaks or extensions, Republicans would struggle to make the changes.

Democrats found themselves in a similar position in 2010, when they assumed they could go back and make changes to Obamacare after the House and Senate raced to pass different versions in 2009.

But the surprise election of GOP Sen. Scott Brown in a special election in January 2010 gave Republicans the votes needed to sustain a filibuster of major changes, forcing Democrats to use the unwieldy reconciliation process to pass a final law, and leaving them unable to fix many of the acknowledged flaws in the bill.

For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will pursue a fix to the tax cut bill that would prevent the new excise tax on university endowments from snaring certain smaller schools such as Kentucky’s Berea College.

“We’re going to fix this. I’m not going to let Bernie Sanders nail this wonderful private school in Kentucky providing these kind[s] of opportunities for low-income kids,” Mr. McConnell said during a recent appearance on Fox News.

Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch has also introduced legislation to extend a number of tax benefits that expired at the end of 2016 and weren’t addressed in the broader bill last month, for items ranging from renewable energy to railroad track maintenance.

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