What’s Really Going On With the Republican Tax Bill?

What’s up with the Republican tax bill, anyway? The Senate voted to approve a maximum increase in the deficit of $1.5 trillion over ten years, which is why it took so long to cook up the legislation. When you’re planning to give away a few trillion dollars in pass-through taxes to small businesses like, um, The Trump Organization, it’s hard to find offsets that will get your deficit down to a mere $1.5 trillion. But apparently they did.

But here’s the thing: thanks to the usual reconciliation rules, they still have to reach a deficit number of $0 in the long-term. One way to do that is to have the bill expire after ten years, but that’s not what it does. Another way is to declare that your bill will supercharge the economy so much that it will pay for itself down the road. That means they need CBO to score the bill something like this:

This is unlikely in the extreme. CBO just isn’t going to end up with something like this. So the only way the bill works is if Republicans override CBO and have the Finance Committee chair invent his own numbers and then everyone just votes to accept them. But I’m guessing that there are at least three Republicans who won’t go along with a charade this blatantly and obviously fraudulent. And if the Senate GOP leadership can’t get 50 Republican votes, they can’t pass the bill.

So what the hell is going on? They must have something in mind, but what?


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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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