POLITICO: Tax Reform is Hard

I spoke with POLITICO‘s Bernie Becker about the difficulty of tax reform and the comments were spread between a couple different pieces.

First, the Morning Tax tipsheet:

But it’s also fair to point out that health care and tax reform don’t exactly present the same challenges, especially given how invested Republicans became in repealing Obamacare over the last seven-plus years. “You’ve traded that emotional complexity for substantive complexity,” Liam Donovan, a former top aide at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said about switching from health to taxes. “Not to say health care isn’t complex, but there’s so many more moving parts in taxes.”

This was the main point I tried to impress. What tax reform lacks in sentimentality it makes up for in sheer complexity and parochial inertia. I’ve touched on this before– tax reform is hard.

I also had the honor of closing out Bernie and Rachel Bade’s obligatory #TRIH piece.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on tax reform. GOP insiders say they have approximately four months to pass a bill before the 2018 election season kicks into high gear in January or February. Passage after that becomes even more precarious, as vulnerable Republicans turn skittish about taking tough votes.

“Time’s the most precious commodity they have,” said Liam Donovan, a former top aide at the National Republican Senatorial Committee who is now legislative director for Associated Builders and Contractors.

Read the full article here.

Bottom line– bona fide tax reform is hard. It may seem more attractive than health care in the sense that nobody is accusing you of taking insurance away from tens of millions of people, but the interests are so entrenched and the financial stakes so high that the trade-offs require a great deal of trust and good faith, two things that are hardly in abundance on Capitol Hill at the moment. Basically Congress is trading health care Jenga for a tax revenue rubix cube. While it’s solvable, success will require coordination and cooperation beyond anything we’ve seen to date.

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