IN THE NEWS: Policy, process and politics all aligning against the McConnell tax bill

INDIANAPOLIS – It’s getting hard to defend the McConnell tax proposal as it heads to conference committee, Howey Politics Indiana report today suggests. Not only is the drastically unpopular GOP plan making a mockery of most Republican “deficit hawks,” its redistribution of wealth from the middle class to wealthier Americans wouldn’t be expected to make much of a dent for most voters at tax time. Meanwhile, the rushed, partisan process isn’t gaining the bill any plaudits, even among Republicans—in the words of a Bush Administration Treasury official, the more you learn about the bill, “the more you go, ‘Holy crap, what’s this?’”

 From Howey Politics IndianaDonnelly vote v. Tax reform sets an issue

INDIANAPOLIS – Sen. Joe Donnelly took flight with President Trump on Air Force One, attended a presidential tax reform rally, insisted he had an open mind, and then last Friday voted against the Senate plan.

In a national context, Donnelly may have made the right political call, as a Quinnipiac Poll showed support for the plan was at an anemic 29%, while 64% said the legislation would mostly benefit the wealthy. The question hasn’t been polled in Indiana. A Public Opinion Strategies Poll for Indiana Realtors showed Trump’s approval/disapproval stood at 47/51%, consistent with other recent polling in the state, so there is statistical evidence that Trump is in decline in the state.

But the tax reform saga is not only unpopular, it’s not yet a done deal and it will play out vividly over the next two election cycles. The most immediate impact is that Rokita and Messer will no longer be able to lecture about deficits as the Senate plan is forecast to add anywhere from $1 trillion to $1.4 trillion to federal deficits. If one of them wins the nomination, Donnelly will hit hard there.

On Sunday, U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, predicted the emergence of “stinky things” in the legislation. Politico reported on Wednesday that the tax legislation is “riddled with bugs, loopholes and other potential problems that could plague lawmakers long after their legislation is signed into law.”

“The more you read, the more you go, ‘Holy crap, what’s this?’” Greg Jenner, a former top tax official in George W. Bush’s Treasury Department, told Politico. “We will be dealing with unintended consequences for months to come because the bill is moving too fast.”

The Democrats referred to “non-partisan” analysis with Baskin-Gerwitz, noting that by 2027, individuals earning between $40,000 and $50,000 would pay a combined $5.3 billion more every year, while Americans who make more than $1 million annually would receive $5.8 billion in tax cuts. “Congressman Rokita likes to pretend he’s fighting off swamp creatures, but when he votes for rigged policies like the McConnell tax plan, he’s simply feeding them,” the Democrat said.

On paper, tax cuts appear to be positive for those who pass them. But Gov. Mike Pence’s income tax cut in 2013 while heralded as a “record,” gave most Hoosiers less than $100 in savings, and turned into a real nothingburger. It did almost nothing to enhance Pence’s reelection prospects in 2016.

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