Everything we see and read indicates optimism from Republican leadership that the House and Senate are on the verge this week of passing a tax reform package and sending it to President Trump for his signature.
As they say in Missouri, show me.
I’ll believe it when I see it. As I have lamented before, this Republican-led Congress, particularly on the Senate side, has so far proven itself incapable of achieving the discipline, resolve and unity necessary to deliver a victory.
To his credit, our Republican senator from Ohio and my former boss, Rob Portman, has been a leading advocate for the tax cut bill. Portman was appointed to the conference committee to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill. During a recent committee meeting, Portman made the following points.
“The average tax cut for a median family income in Ohio is $2,375,” said Portman. “And by the time this conference committee ends up, it may be more than that. And that’s the proof in the pudding. And, you know, we can go back and forth as to whether that’s high enough—earlier someone saying that’s not enough—I mean, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, that’s a big deal. And a lot of our constituents are.”
Portman added, “We’ve also talked for years about a more competitive tax code that enables our workers to compete around the world. And it is irresponsible that here in Washington, D.C. we’ve allowed, for the last 31 years, a tax code that says, you know what, if you’re an American worker, you’ve got to compete with one hand tied behind your back because of our tax code. A recent study came out showing 4,700 American companies have become foreign companies in the last 13 years, because of our tax code, who otherwise would be American companies if we had passed this bill. If we set a competitive rate and a territorial system, they would be American companies.”
Great points. There were times I didn’t feel that Portman was as on board as he should have been with the efforts to repeal Obamacare, even though he voted for a couple of the versions that were presented. But on tax reform, he’s been an important part of pushing the train down the track – and in so doing, he’s helping rid us of a big Obamacare albatross.
One big part of the tax plan is a provision that repeals Obamacare’s most unconstitutional aspect – the individual mandate, which forces Americans to buy health insurance whether they want it or not. It will forever be a black mark on Chief Justice John Roberts’ ledger that he cast the deciding Supreme Court vote upholding the individual mandate.
But if Republicans can keep it together – a huge “if” – the mandate will be gone, and we will reverse a law that for the first time in our history required Americans to purchase a private product or face a penalty imposed by the IRS.
(Proponents of the mandate always say, “But you have to buy car insurance!” No, you don’t. You only have to buy car insurance if you own a car.)
Opponents of repealing the mandate claim that 13 million Americans will lose health insurance if the mandate is shelved. What they don’t clarify is that there will be 13 million Americans who will choose not to buy health insurance. No one is throwing them off the insurance rolls.
But whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the skills to actually herd this bill through the fence remains to be seen.
Hopefully, even the most moderate or liberal Republican in the Senate — or the so-called “budget hawks” in the House who complain about how much the bill will cost – will come to their senses just long enough to understand that no matter how bad they think the bill is, not passing it will be worse.
The left and the mainstream media are just waiting, hoping, for something to derail the bill. They desperately want President Trump and the GOP to go into the 2018 midterm elections with no major accomplishments. And, individually, Republican House and Senate members know that if they’re the one to kill the bill, they may face the wrath of Trump and their party, but they’ll be made into heroes by the media. Sometimes that’s a difficult temptation to resist.
So, in the next couple of days, we’ll find out if the Republican Congress has what it takes to deliver a win. Their record so far is not encouraging, but all it takes is one big swing of the bat here in the bottom of the ninth.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.