After Republicans rushed through their massive, regressive tax plan late last year, many assumed the GOP majority would turn its attention to other issues, such as infrastructure or immigration. What we didn't realize is that Republicans would instead keep their focus on ... more tax cuts.
As we discussed in the spring, Donald Trump told a selected group of supporters in St. Louis, in reference to his tax plans for 2018, "We're now going for a Phase 2." Pointing to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the president added, "It's going to be something very special. Kevin Brady's working on it with me."
In this case, Trump apparently wasn't making stuff up. Brady told Fox Business at the time that Republicans believe "even more can be done" on taxes.
We're now getting a look at what they have in mind. Reuters reported overnight:
With congressional elections looming, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday proposed more deficit-expanding tax cuts, an effort seen by some tax experts as unlikely to become law and geared chiefly toward winning votes.
Even if the initiative fails to pass, it could put Democrats in the position of opposing the new tax-cut plan on the House floor, which Republicans could seek to use to their advantage in the Nov. 6 elections where control of Congress will be at stake.
Under the measure, federal individual income tax cuts approved on a temporary basis by the Republican-controlled Congress and President Donald Trump in December would become permanent.
This should probably sound familiar. As part of their accounting tricks, Republican lawmakers created permanent tax breaks for big corporations, but temporary tax breaks for the public. "Phase 2," to borrow the president's phrase, is about making the latter permanent, too.
If this seems like a cheap gimmick, there's a good reason for that. GOP leaders almost certainly don't expect another round of regressive tax breaks to pass, but by holding a vote shortly before the midterm elections, they will likely use the demise of their plan as fodder for attack ads -- with Republicans accusing Democrats of opposing "tax relief" for "American families."
There is, however, a problem with the plan.