Complete Republican control of the Federal government has been disappointing, to say the least. While good things have been done with judicial appointments and in regards to deregulation by executive authority, the GOP congress has yet to pass a landmark piece of legislation. Failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is the most glaring example of the shortcomings of our elected officials in Washington. Now with tax reform on the table, the congressional Republicans have one last chance to prove themselves worthy of the trust we have put in them, pass a comprehensive tax reform bill, or face the consequences.
While we are just now getting the details on the proposed GOP tax plan, the prospects have been quite exciting. Lower corporate taxes, repatriation of money from overseas, a doubled standard deduction, fewer tax brackets, and the elimination of many loophole and carve-outs have been staples of conservative economic thought since the Supply-Side Revolution. If Republicans can’t come together around a combination of pro-growth and middle-class tax cuts, then it is unclear what you could get them together on.
The political challenge looks like it could come from Republican members of Congress living in high tax states like California or New York whose constituents would be hurt by the provisions of the plan that eliminate the deduction for state income taxes. Philosophically we can debate if our Federal Tax code should be subsidizing the ridiculously high tax rates in California, but at the end of the day, you would expect a number of Republicans in Congress will side with their constituents over the party. The GOP has around 20 extra votes House of Representatives which could make things close. Currently there are 14 Republicans representing California in the House of Representatives, and New York who has 9 Republicans, if these representatives banded together the could derail tax reform, not to mention the possibility of Republicans from other high tax states like Illinois getting involved. Thankfully in the Senate, all of these high tax states have exclusively Democrats representing them.
So there may be some horse trading and some compromises made within the Republican caucus in order to get a bill though. As with any major piece of legislation, there will be winners and losers at the end of the day. Lowering the cap on mortgage interest deduction from $1 million to $500,000 is sure to ruffle a few feathers among the Republicans, especially those allied with the homebuilders and realtors lobby. While the details are definitely important, and I hope our representatives hash out this issues, it is inevitable that some Republicans will need to swallow some bitter herbs in order for the entire plan to make it through.
So here is my advice to those Republicans: swallow the bitter herbs. Republicans in Congress already look like the Gang that Can’t Shoot Straight because of their inability or unwillingness to repeal Obamacare. The President and the GOP need a win, and tax reform is the perfect issue to get that win on. So put up a fight over the provisions of the plan that you find objectionable, but when that final bill hits the floor, you better vote for it or face the consequences at the ballot box.
Jacob Vandever is political activist, lifelong Oregonian, and proud Oregon State graduate.