Last month, with a dramatic “no” vote, Senator John McCain killed the GOP’s efforts at enacting a repeal of ObamaCare. Besides the Arizona Senator, two other GOP Senators had already expressed their opposition to the measure, and GOP leadership could only afford to lose the support of two GOP Senators.
The Trump Administration, desperate for anything to point to as a legitimate legislative accomplishment, is determined to not let a similar situation unfold again.
One of their next agenda items beyond health care is tax reform. In a move that is supposed to simultaneously be a huge boost to the government’s financial reserves and put more money in the pockets of the average American, the GOP, as led by Trump, wants to “simplify” the tax code through such means as shrinking the number of tax brackets.
Here’s the thing — as the TrumpCare incident indicates, it leaves GOP efforts with an uncertain future at best at best for the Trump Administration to move ahead on tax reform without the support of at least a handful of Democrats. Support of moderate Democrats has already proven crucial in the Trump Administration getting some of the president’s nominees for various positions throughout the government confirmed.
Thus, with this in mind, the White House has been attempting to establish a line of communication with some moderate Democrats in Congress.
As an example of this, POLITICO reports that “multiple sources” tell them that “[a]t a mid-June dinner at the White House with four centrist House Democrats, President Donald Trump expressed interest in a bipartisan package combining tax reform with infrastructure spending.”
Since that dinner, White House staffers including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn have met with moderate Congressional Democrats, but their reaching out has come with a caveat — the tax reform bill, whatever exact form it ends up taking, won’t be their doing.
Instead, it will be the doing of Congressional GOP leadership including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and he has already expressed a disinterest in reaching out to Democrats while crafting his tax reform bill.
Does he not remember how miserably TrumpCare failed over and over again because he didn’t reach out to Democrats? The White House does, but they likely, judging off history, aren’t going to be very successful at getting through to McConnell.
Democrats, for their part, are eager to work with Republicans on a tax reform bill. Focus begins in the House of Representatives, since that is where any tax reform bill will start, and Oregon’s Rep. Kurt Schrader says, quite simply:
‘The door is open, and this should be a bipartisan issue. I hope they consider us.’
As for the Senate, POLITICO reports that “three of 48 members of the Democratic caucus declined to endorse a letter outlining their opposition to any bill that would add to the deficit or cut taxes for the top 1 percent of earners.” One of those who have shown themselves open to bipartisan negotiations is the well known moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, who said that he’s “happy to work with” Senate Republicans.
Only time will tell whether or not a truly bipartisan tax bill gets off the ground — and whether or not GOP leadership even tries to get one off the ground. As Montana’s Sen. Jon Tester said put it, “It’s bad public policy when you don’t bring people together to have a debate.”
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