Tax reform was never going to be easy. But now, flailing politically in the wake of the health care debacle, GOP fissures are already clouding the party’s efforts to overhaul the tax code. The White House likely won’t be keen to let Paul Ryan’s House steer the effort after Ryan’s dismal legislative debut. Ryan likewise feels the same distrust of a White House that has pointed the finger at everyone and anyone associated with the health care reform defeat—except Donald Trump.
Even within the Trump administration, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is already warring over taxes with conservatives, both within his own agency and in the West Wing.
And then there’s the ideological divide within the GOP caucus itself, between members who want to spend more money bulking up the military and those who have historically refused to spend more money on anything that increases the deficit.
If Republicans manage to get anything through on taxes, it will be the result of sheer desperation, writes Alan Rappeport:
Under pressure to get something done, some Republican deficit hawks appear ready to abandon the fiscal rectitude that they embraced during the Obama administration to help salvage Mr. Trump’s agenda.
In a rare shift, Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, whose House Freedom Caucus effectively torpedoed the health legislation, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that he would not protest if tax cuts were not offset by new spending cuts or new streams of revenue, such as an import tax. […]
“Does it have to be fully offset? My personal response is no.”
Of course offsets aren’t necessary now that Barack Obama isn’t president.