Right now, the Trump tax plan is being hammered and bent by conference. It’s the way all bills are smoothed between the inevitably different versions produced by each the House and the Senate, and by and large, it’s a remarkably normal process.
Though, perhaps not this time.
The tax plan, especially in its senate version, was passed under cover of darkness, was read by no one (relatively speaking), and had amendments scribbled by hand in the margins. It was major legislation passed as quickly as humanly possible, at speeds that would, under normal circumstances, give any legislator whiplash.
It was, by all accounts, a bit of a mess.
But Republicans voted for it anyway, because surely these irregularities would get ironed out in conference. After all, conference is a time for deal making and pork barrels (which, politicians agree, is the best kind of barrel), and any of those nitty gritty mistakes — like the addition of $1 trillion to the deficit during a time of economic growth — can get tweaked into “features” and “benefits” and “talking points” later on.
But, if by divine intervention, the conference process has at least allowed Congress — and therefore the nation — a moment to breathe, and to digest: what’s even in this bill?
For one thing, we know it benefits corporations and the wealthy. Now, we won’t be stodgy caricatures of liberals here and say the corporate tax code shouldn’t be adjusted, because it probably should. However, it doesn’t mean the timing of this bill isn’t enormously suspect (it is) or that the content of the bill somehow makes more sense because of it (it doesn’t).
In fact, what we’re left with is something that, sure, will lower taxes for most people. But why? Only because the Republicans need something — anything — to hang their hats on next November. And if they can play Santa Claus while they’re at it, handing out tax cuts like poorly wrapped christmas gifts, then that’s even better.
And that’s to say nothing of the president’s role in all this.
The Trump Administration is nothing if not consistently disappointing. This week, the Treasury Department released their analysis of the tax plan. It was a one page report that claimed Trump’s whole economic plan would create $1.8 trillion in new tax revenue.
This single page analysis of a nearly 500 page tax plan comes months after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin promised a detailed analysis of the tax plan and a week after versions of the plan passed the House and Senate. He has also claimed that 100 Treasury employees were working on the analysis. By our calculations, that’s probably one analyst for every four words of detailed analysis.
So here we are. With 500 hundred pages of something that is almost surely a tax cut. But what else it might be? We suppose we’ll have to wait and see what kind of frankenstein’s monster emerges from conference. At least it will probably be wearing a tuxedo and singing “puttin on the ritz,” so there’s that.