Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Maybe this time they will listen

The Great Republican Majority wants to turn its lonely eyes to tax "reform" and the Democrats in Congress are offering to help put something together.
Emboldened by the failure of Republicans to pass health care legislation on their own, Senate Democrats are seizing the opportunity to influence the coming overhaul to the tax code.

On Tuesday, 45 Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Trump, to Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and to Senator Orrin G. Hatch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, urging them to work with Democrats on a tax plan.

The Democrats are reaching out while Republicans are reeling from their failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Both parties are thinking about the Republicans’ ability to press ahead with their agenda while acting along strict partisan lines.

“We are confident that, by working together, we could modernize our tax system to increase working families’ wages, improve middle-class job growth, promote domestic investment, modernize our outdated business and international tax system and put in place sound fiscal policy,” the group wrote.

Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, and Senator Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, organized the drafting of the letter, which lays out their priorities. Three Democratic senators who are up for re-election next year — Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — did not sign the letter. They could be ripe targets for Republicans looking for Democrats to get on board with their tax plan.

Despite the overture, bipartisanship will not come easy.

The Democrats are insisting that changes to tax laws not increase the tax burden on the middle class and that the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers not see their tax bills shrink.

They also are insisting that Republicans return to “regular order” and not attempt to push a tax bill through Congress using budget reconciliation rules that require only a simple majority in the Senate.

Finally, they want a rewrite of the tax code that does not add to the deficit and is not paid for with cuts to programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Analyses of Republican tax plans have found the changes the party has proposed would disproportionately benefit the rich. Thus far, Republicans remain committed to using reconciliation in hopes of getting legislation to Mr. Trump’s desk before the end of the year.
This may not be the friendly gesture it appears to be as the Republicans will have a hard enough time making deals among their own members. Adding in Democratic voices could confuse so many issues beyond agreement and hand Paul and Mitch fresh defeats.


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