Politics & Policy

The Corner

The Tax-Reform Challenge

In response to Unless You Are in The Military

As Rich Lowry notes, the relationship between Donald Trump and the Republican Congress has grown more cantankerous. The personal feuds — with Mitch McConnell, with Jeff Flake, with John McCain — pile up.

In terms of policy, though, there are signs that the Trump White House is continuing to defer to Republicans in Congress. This Axios story suggests that the administration is going to let the House Ways and Means Committee take the lead in drafting the details of tax reform. Now, this is an anonymously sourced report, and Ivanka Trump has met with Marco Rubio and other Republican lawmakers to discuss ways to make the tax code more family friendly. So there’s a chance that the administration will try to have more of an input on tax legislation.

However, this could also be a sign that, as with health care, the administration is going to outsource tax-reform policy to Congress. If that’s the case, we could have the scenario of an administration devoting its first year to enacting a legislative agenda almost entirely driven by Congress — even as the president rails against members of his own party.

It’s not clear that this helps the president (or his fellow Republicans). Indeed, one could argue that it might be more effective to invert that strategy and have the president push Congress to adopt more Trumpian policies while affecting more personal comity. For instance, it seems very likely that the president’s approval rating would be higher if, early in his administration, he had pushed for a big, bipartisan infrastructure bill rather than capital-gains tax cuts and Medicaid reform (i.e., the GOP’s first effort at health-care reform).

The health-care stalemate has another lesson for Republicans contemplating tax reform. On health care, all the showmanship in the world could not mask real policy dynamics. A similar point applies to taxes. Failing to prioritize relief for families and middle-class voters would only increase Republicans’ political vulnerabilities on tax reform and make such reform less likely to be passed into law.

Fred Bauer — Fred Bauer is a writer from New England. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including The Weekly Standard and The Daily Caller. He also blogs at ...

Most Popular

U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More