Monday, April 10, 2017

Tax Fight Is Next Big Loss For Conservos

Today's Wall Street Journal minced no words in highlighting the costs in getting Trump's much ballyhooed tax overhaul through. ('Bipartisan Tax Overhaul Has High Price',  p. A4). Bottom line is that opposing factions remain in the R-camp and the Dems are not prepared to let any old tax plan see the light. As the article noted:

"Democrats are starting to settle on a price for participating in any tax overhaul and many Republicans won't want to pay it. Democrats say they oppose net tax cuts and will resist proposals that mainly benefit high income households."

Adding that the Dems' priorities diverge from Trump's promise to 'cut the hell out of taxes', and congressional Republicans' plans to lower marginal tax rates and repeal the estate tax. The first is a non-starter for Dems given there'd be no offsets and hence a net tax cut say if rates are lowered rom 39.5% to 28%.  The second is non-starter on its face, unless the Reepos also propose a countervailing balance tax increase to eliminate the net cut. Say, increasing corporate tax rates by 1 percent.

But let's get real. that's not going to happen, and it isn't likely the Dems will participate in the kind of reverse Robin Hood measures all the GOOps want.

 Given this, the harsh reality is that the GOP House and Trumpites are now set to get splattered in the upcoming tax reform battle as badly as they were with the attempted killing of the ACA. Once again, the delirious Trump has spouted he will "work with the Dems" to get something done but all I can say is 'Dream on!'. The Dems will be in no mood to do squat, especially enabling Trump's tax cut fantasies, after the Senate Repukes altered the filibuster roles to shoehorn Gorsuch into an SC spot. Oh no!

And minus any Dem votes, the 'pukes will have to deal with their own internal schisms, given they will then have to go the narrow budget reconciliation route.  That will be a stupendous barrier to cross without Dem cooperation given the fractious nature of the Republican House and conservatives in general.

Indeed, one conservative group produced colorful flow charts warning millennials that a “border adjustment” tax proposed by Speaker Paul D. Ryan would raise prices on “the Jose Cuervo tequila that’s in your happy hour margarita.”  Bear in mind this tax surfaced after it became patently clear the delusional Trump would not be able to get Mexico to pay for any border wall. So now, his Trumpie followers are faced with having to cough up the tax moola like the rest of us.

Then, 3 days later, a second conservative group kicked off a lobbying campaign saying it would amount to a $1.2 trillion tax on seniors and the working poor.  The next day, still another conservo group weighed in, issuing a news release that highlighted how Latinos would be “among those hardest hit” by the new tax on imports.

All three organizations share a common lineage: They are part of the political network overseen by Charles D. and David H. Koch, the billionaire conservative businessmen. Now they are among a host of conservative organizations mounting a furious campaign against a new tax on imports proposed by House Republicans, imperiling what is supposed to be a centerpiece of the Republican tax overhaul effort.

To be fair to Trump, the idea of a border adjustment tax has circulated among academic economists and in think tanks since the 1970s, as the United States has considered ways of harmonizing its tax code with countries that use value-added taxes (like Barbados does). Central to the plan is a provision that would tax imports at a rate of 20 percent while exempting exports from taxation.  This sounds rational until one realizes that Trump is exploiting it purely as a devious means to get Mexico to contribute to the building of the stupid, 2,000 mile, 30 foot high border wall.

Groups like Americans for Tax Reform — headed by Grover Norquist, perhaps Washington’s most famous anti-tax crusader — have praised the border tax proposal, saying it would put American businesses “on a level playing field” with foreign competitors. Retailers that import many of their goods are lobbying against the idea, while domestic manufacturers like Boeing and Caterpillar — whose interests figure heavily in Mr. Trump’s economic thinking — are supporting it.
The Koch network and groups like the Club for Growth, which for years have targeted what they call “crony capitalism” in Washington, have opposed the border tax as an unnecessary tax increase and a form of favoritism that would hurt the economy. But Trump has pledged to target what he sees as a more insidious kind of cronyism, including unfettered free trade that some Trump advisers say benefits wealthy elites at the expense of American workers

An important point here is that both the Club for Growth and the Koch network also played a critical role in killing a proposal backed by Ryan and Trump to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. In March, as the repeal vote approached, two Koch-aligned groups pledged to spend upward of $1 million on ads defending any Republican who voted against the replacement legislation.

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