Budget & Taxes

GOP Fears Risk in Senate Races If House Extend Tax Cuts

“Heading into a contentious campaign for control of Congress, Republicans are increasingly divided over how to bolster their signature legislative achievement — a $1.5 trillion tax cut — amid signs it is not the political gift they had expected it to be last year,” the Washington Post reports.

“House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) aims to pass another massive tax cut this summer, which Republicans hope will rev up the GOP base and improve the standing of Republicans at the polls.”

“But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is under pressure to block a vote, which Republican campaign strategists worry could allow red-state Democrats to vote for additional tax cuts and undermine one of the GOP’s most effective lines of attack in conservative-leaning states: that Democrats voted against a big tax cut last December.”

Corker Decries ‘Constant Chaos’ in the White House

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who once described the White House as an “adult day-care center,” lamented that President Trump governs in a state of “constant chaos” and denounced his attacks on federal law enforcement agencies, the media and other U.S. institutions, the Washington Post reports.

Said Corker: “You know, for the chief of staff it’s got to be a nightmare that at night there are people calling in from all over the country, he’s calling them, and the chief of staff doesn’t know they’re calling.”

He also blasted the “grotesque” spending bill signed by Trump: “This president, obviously, is not a president who’s interested in fiscal issues. Is this president a president who cares about the fiscal health of our nation? No. No.”

GOP Senators Wary of Additional Tax Cuts

“New projections on the size of the federal deficit and the price tag of President Trump’s tax-cut law have left some Republican senators nervous about voting on another tax package before the election,” The Hill reports.

“While the GOP on Tuesday used Tax Day to proclaim the success of last year’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, there is some unease about doubling down on the issue in the coming months. Some in the party want to go on offense and try to make permanent the individual tax cuts that were part of last year’s legislation.”

Said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): “I’d say, ‘Hell no. Hell no — double hell no.'”

Republicans Blame Trump for Tax Law Unpopularity

President Trump “is undermining voter support for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with erratic messaging after it was gaining popularity, alarming Republicans counting on the law to save the party’s vulnerable House majority,” the Washington Examiner reports.

“Senior Republicans are declining to publicly finger Trump for the heralded tax overhaul’s sagging approval ratings. Views of the law steadily climbed during the first two months of the year on the strength of a unified push from the White House and Capitol Hill ahead of the midterm.”

“Privately, Republicans complain that the president’s sudden shift to tariffs, with threats of trade wars, distracted from the positive impacts of $1.3 trillion in tax cuts and allowed Democrats to regain the upper hand. Concluding that Trump is unreliable, Republicans say it’s their responsibility to turn public opinion around.”

GOP Tax Law Is Getting Less Popular

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that the tax-cut law, never broadly popular, has sagged in public esteem lately. Just 27% of Americans call it a good idea, while 36% call it a bad idea and the rest have no opinion.

“Moreover, a majority gives thumbs-down on the plan when asked to consider its potential effects. Just 39% foresee a positive impact from a stronger economy, more jobs and more money in their pockets; 53% foresee a negative impact from higher deficits and disproportionate benefits for the wealthy and big corporations.”

New York Times: No one’s talking about the new tax law.

Republicans Struggle to Make Tax Cuts a Winning Issue

Bloomberg: “Some recent polls show that the majority of Americans still don’t support the tax law, despite an uptick in sentiment since the end of 2017. And a special House election in a conservative district of Pennsylvania in March delivered an upset victory to the Democratic candidate, who’d framed the tax cuts as a giveaway to the wealthy.”

“After most individual taxpayers finish up their returns this week, all eyes will turn to what the tax code revamp means for next year’s filings and beyond. Part of the Republican party’s problem in selling the tax cuts is that the answer is murky for many. Variables like dependents and itemized deductions can complicate the picture, even though most — 65 percent — will see a tax cut in 2018. And even for voters who do see a cut, whether it’s enough to sway their decisions at the ballot box is far from clear.”

Trump Order Targets Public Assistance Programs

“The Trump administration is seeking to completely revamp the country’s social safety net, targeting recipients of Medicaid, food stamps and housing assistance,” The Hill reports.

“Trump is doing so through a sweeping executive order that was quietly issued earlier this week — and that largely flew under the radar.”

“It calls on the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and other agencies across the federal government to craft new rules requiring that beneficiaries of a host of programs work or lose their benefits.”

Corker Regrets Vote for Tax Bill

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) lamented that his recent vote for the GOP tax bill could be one of the worst of his career if projections that it will add nearly $2 trillion to the deficit prove to be accurate, the Tennessean reports.

Said Corker: “None of us have covered ourselves in glory. This Congress and this administration likely will go down as one of the most fiscally irresponsible administrations and Congresses that we’ve had.”

He also said that the recent spending bill was it “one of the most grotesque pieces of legislation I can remember.”

GOP Has Been Playing Us For Suckers on the Deficit

Stan Collender: “Think about this. The same congressional Republicans who over the previous eight years wanted everyone to believe they were fiscal conservatives hell bent on balancing the budget and not increasing the national debt, sponsored, passed and then danced around the fire because of legislation that will result in a permanent $1 trillion deficit and a debt that will soar to close to 100 percent of GDP by 2028.”

“And…House and Senate Republicans were enabled by a GOP president who during his campaign said he would eliminate the deficit and completely pay off the debt.”

White House May Try to Claw Back $60 Billion

Politico: “The White House is ignoring warnings from worried Hill Republicans and moving ahead with plans to cut billions of dollars from the massive spending bill that Congress passed in late March, after President Donald Trump has spent weeks grousing about the legislation.”

“These officials anticipate the White House could propose slashing anywhere from $30 billion to $60 billion dollars from the $1.3 trillion dollar spending bill passed for this year — even as Republican lawmakers are openly asking the president not to re-open the negotiation.”

Playbook: “There is not enough appetite in Congress, particularly in the Senate. The House will take this up. The Senate will ignore it. And it won’t become law.”

GOP Has Lost All Credibility on Fiscal Responsibility

John Harwood: “The business model of the modern Republican Party does not produce real-world budget discipline. So today, GOP lawmakers turn to make-believe.”

“Within the last four months, the Republican president and party leaders in Congress took two actions that dramatically expand federal deficits. On a party-line vote, they cut taxes by $150 billion a year, then increased spending by $150 billion a year in cooperation with Democrats.”

“Now, as the Congressional Budget Office projects the return of $1 trillion annual deficits, congressional Republicans plan a gesture for constituents alarmed by rising debt. The House will vote on Thursday on a constitutional amendment requiring lawmakers to balance the federal budget.”

Trump Push to Redo Spending Bill Causes GOP Revolt

“A regretful President Trump wants to roll back spending in a massive omnibus bill he signed into law, but Republicans who helped craft the legislation are in open revolt,” Politico reports.

Said House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ): “My attitude is, your word is your bond.”

“Frelinghuysen is among more than a half-dozen appropriators who have voiced skepticism about the Trump administration’s proposal to cancel billions in spending. Nearly all said they feared that it could erode the GOP’s bargaining power in future budget talks. Their objections represented another low point in an often-tense relationship between the cost-cutting White House and GOP members of Congress who write spending bills.”

Deficit Will Top $1 Trillion per Year by 2020

The CBO reported that America’s deficit is growing sharply and will surpass $1 trillion per year by 2020, according to the Washington Post.

“The federal deficit will hit $804 billion in fiscal year 2018, a 21 percent increase from 2017’s deficit of $665 billion.”

“President Trump and congressional Republicans in December passed a new tax law projected to cut government revenue by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years. In March, members of both parties approved a funding measure to increase military and domestic spending by nearly $300 billion over the next two years.”

Trump Wants to Take Back from Spending Bill

Mike Allen: “President Trump may try to hit ‘undo’ on a slice of the $1.3 trillion spending bill that he signed last month after threatening a veto, and now regrets.”

“Republican aides in the House and Senate tell me they’re working with the White House on a possible plan to rescind billions of dollars — and perhaps tens of billions.”

“The proposal may not be ready for a couple of weeks… Conversations have included a target up to $60 billion, but Republicans on the Hill say it would need to be less than that.”

Stan Collender: “The new U.S. normal of $1 trillion or more annual federal budget deficits will officially begin this week when the Congressional Budget Office releases its economic and budget outlook report showing that the deficit will be at least that high every year Donald Trump is president.”