Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Hinton/Navy file photo

Apparent Collapse of Obamacare Repeal Makes It Harder to Pass a Budget

Congressional Obamacare repeal woes make it trickier to write a spending blueprint and a tax-reform package.

The GOP flameout on its Obamacare-repeal effort is putting political pressure on Republicans to pass sweeping tax-reform legislation—and making it more complicated to write.

The party’s signature policy goal is far from finished, with senior House, Senate, and administration officials meeting behind closed doors to work out details. Tax writers have inherited a host of problems left over from the health care debate, and a contentious effort to pass a budget stands in the way as well. Still, the need to score a legislative win is mounting.

If this year’s Republican agenda was a circus tent, tax reform and repealing Obamacare were its tentpoles, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist said.

“Now it will be only tax reform, and if you don’t have a center tentpole, it doesn’t stand,” Norquist said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told The Mike Gallagher Show that his chamber is pivoting to work on tax reform and overhauling federal welfare programs. Ryan said he was still optimistic about completing tax reform this year.

“The good thing about tax reform as opposed to health care is that Republicans are sort of wired the same way; our DNA is similar, and we all know that we must do this because it’s been since 1986 since we’ve done this, and the rest of the world has passed us up,” Ryan said.

But Republicans remain divided on key points of the House tax-reform plan, though they largely agree on its overarching goals—lowering corporate and individual rates and broadening the tax base. Some of those disagreements have been carried over from the health care debate, including the fate of several key Obamacare taxes, a 3.8 percent tax on investment income, and a 0.9 percent Medicare payroll tax, both targeting top earners.

Repealing those in a tax-reform package means that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady may need to find more than $200 billion in additional income if the tax plan were to remain revenue-neutral, as the proposed House budget requires. That may not be an easy task, since finding additional tax revenue could upset yet another interest group.

“Every pay-for that they haven’t tapped yet, there’s a reason why they haven’t tapped it,” said Scott Greenberg, a senior analyst at the Tax Foundation.

Leaving them in place, however, could upset conservative groups.

Brady had been reluctant to address the investment tax in a reform bill, despite the increased pressure.

“I worry that if the Senate can’t repeal it in health care, they won’t repeal it in tax reform, and as a result, our proposals won’t be as pro-growth to the local community as it can be,” Brady told reporters.

But in an interview with Reuters, Brady said he was willing to consider repealing the investment tax, though he offered no guarantees because of the $175 billion cost and the difficulty in passing the first version of the Senate health care bill, which also repealed the tax.

In the health care debate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ultimately moved to preserve the investment tax and Medicare surtax as a way to entice moderate Republicans and to deflect criticism that the bill was a tax cut for the wealthy. The effort failed to win enough votes, however.

Ryan and Brady also remain at odds with the Senate and the White House over the border-adjustment tax, a tax on imports but not exports. Many on Capitol Hill have written off the tax as dead, but some members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus remain concerned that tax writers will move forward with the idea, and have threatened to gum up progress on the House budget until they see a tax plan with the border tax written out.

“We don’t have any knowledge of what will be in the tax bill—none, zero,” Rep. Dave Brat, a Freedom Caucus member, told reporters.

Brat said the caucus is also looking for “some specificity” on target tax rates included in any reform plan.

The House Budget Committee unveiled its proposed fiscal 2018 budget Tuesday. The measure sets up a tax-reform bill to pass using reconciliation, avoiding a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, and ties some $200 billion in spending cuts to the revenue-neutral tax plan as well. The spending cuts make passing the budget resolution uncertain in the House, and the Senate will likely write its own budget measure.

Brat said he was concerned that the tax-reform process could end up looking like the effort to repeal Obamacare, one in which lawmakers passed a budget resolution with instructions to move forward a piece of major legislation, but most of the key decisions were made behind closed doors and without input from rank-and-file members.

“The bill in the Senate is evidence of when we don’t do our homework ahead of time where you can end up,” Brat said.

But the Freedom Caucus may not demand a repeal of Obamacare taxes in a broader tax-reform bill. Brat and Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows both said that the $200 billion-plus price tag for the investment tax and the Medicare surtax isn’t nearly as significant to them as preventing the $1.2 trillion border-adjustment tax.

Republicans may be facing an uphill battle in the 2018 midterm elections even if they pass tax-reform legislation, but legislative success could help compensate for greater enthusiasm among the Democratic base.

“The only way to counter that is to have a base that’s at least as intensely engaged as the other side, and to have that, you’ve got to succeed legislatively,” Rep. Tom Cole said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.