All Hell Breaks Loose on Capitol Hill

by Robert VerBruggen

In recent days, Senate Republicans have been looking at a “revenue trigger” as a way to address some members’ concerns that the tax bill would blow up the deficit: If deficits got out of control, taxes would automatically rise. The Senate parliamentarian has now said this is not allowed under the chamber’s rules.

Some Republicans have also been claiming the bill would pay for itself through higher growth, but (as Jibran Khan noted here earlier) Congress’s own Joint Committee on Taxation released a new report today finding that the bill would offset only $400 billion of its $1.4 trillion cost. This didn’t surprise anyone who’d seen other outside experts’ scores, but it seems to have surprised some Republicans.

So now, faced with the reality of a huge deficit increase and the destruction of their only plan for avoiding it, Republicans are “looking for hundreds of billions of dollars.” In a $1.4 trillion bill. At the end of the week they’re planning to pass it.

I’m a deficit hawk, so better late (and in spectacularly embarrassing fashion) than never, I suppose. What astounds me, though, is that Congress passed a budget resolution allowing a $1.5 trillion deficit hike over ten years, and up until now all the bills have run right up to that limit. If they didn’t have the votes to fund a tax cut with big deficit spending, why has that been the apparent game plan so far? Did they seriously think they could make back $1.5 trillion in economic growth?

Some extra details from the New York Times:

One idea being discussed is reinstating the alternative minimum tax on some corporations and individuals. There is also discussion about increasing the corporate tax rate above the 20 percent after a period of years. This could involve slowly raising the rate after some time, though it is unclear when it would take place.

Tomorrow will be interesting, at least!

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