Based on some further development and feedback I’m going to update last week’s post on how Senate Democratic plans for the budget resolution interact with the prospects for enacting significant tax reform. My core projection is still quite pessimistic, but I think I have a better feel for the legislative dynamics.
Update: During debate on H.R. 8, the New Year’s tax increase law, House Chairman Camp made clear that he will move through the House a bill that is revenue-neutral (after H.R. 8 took effect). This makes a “preconferenced” Baucus-Camp-Hatch bill highly unlikely, and means that any agreement would come only in a conference after the House had passed a revenue-neutral bill. Such a conference report might or might not be revenue-neutral, but at least the first stage of the process would not increase revenues.
Sen. Schumer’s Senate reconciliation for “tax reform” won’t happen.
A couple of friends pointed out that a Senate reconciliation bill can only be produced by the House and Senate passing identical versions of a budget resolution in the form of a conference report. This means that Senator Schumer’s push last week for a 51-vote procedural path to enacting a tax bill can happen only if the Senate Democratic majority reaches an agreement on deficits, debt, and aggregate spending and tax levels with a Republican majority House. This leads me to four obvious conclusions that I missed in last week’s post:
- Senate Democrats can’t force the Senate to pass a partisan tax bill through reconciliation without House Republican acquiescence on creating the process to do so.
- Even in the unlikely scenario where House Republicans and Senate Democrats agreed to create such a reconciliation “vehicle” for tax reform, they couldn’t do so unless they also agreed on the other components of a budget resolution: deficit and debt levels, spending and tax aggregates, and the aggregate size of changes to major entitlement programs and discretionary spending.
- Therefore, Senator Schumer’s prediction early last week of a 51-vote reconciliation path for Senate passage of “tax reform” has almost no chance of happening.
- And if tax reform is even to pass the Senate it will need bipartisan support. For Chairman Baucus this means he needs Finance Committee Ranking Member Hatch early in the process, and House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Camp after/if the Senate passes a bill.
In support of this, I’d note that in a press conference last Wednesday Senator Schumer did not push the reconciliation idea, instead describing it as something that Chairmen Murray and Baucus would work out. I’ll bet that idea is now dead.
Baucus v. Schumer
I think Sen. Schumer