Senate Republicans refuse to believe the official analysis of their tax plan

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

A key analysis of the Senate Republican tax plan released late Thursday afternoon threw a wrench into the GOP leadership’s rush to pass tax reform this week. In response, Republican lawmakers are choosing to simply ignore the report’s findings.

Just as the Senate was about to vote on Thursday on whether to advance their tax plan, the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation released a troubling report. The JCT report found that the $1.4 trillion dollar tax plan would generate around $400 billion dollars worth of growth, leaving the total net cost of the plan to be $1 trillion dollars — completely eviscerating any notion that the plan would pay for itself, a key White House talking point.

“We think we can pay for the entire tax cut through growth over the cycle,” said Chief White Economic Adviser Gary Cohn told CNBC in September.

In reality, according to the JCT, the plan won’t even make up for a third of what it costs and increase GDP by 0.8 percent over the next decade.

In the face of such bleak numbers, rather than sending the legislation back to committee to keep working on it, Republicans have decided to brush aside the analysis. Multiple Republicans are now saying the JCT’s findings can’t be trusted because the report underestimates the economic growth lawmakers are confident will result from tax reform.

“I think it’s pretty clear they’re wrong,” Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said in reference to the JCT’s findings, telling reporters he thought the JCT had “lowballed” economic growth.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) — who was instrumental in voting against multiple attempts at repealing the Affordable Care Act this summer, in large part because she believed the data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finding it would leave millions uninsured — now says she’s now skeptical of this kind of impact analysis.

Julia Lawless, a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee, called the JCT’s analysis “incomplete,” adding that the JCT’s findings “are curious and deserve further scrutiny.”

No tax plan has ever paid for itself, so it’s unclear why this one, which centers around a gigantic tax cut for corporations, would be any different.

And on top of that, the JCT is not exactly a partisan source hostile to Republicans’ policymaking agenda. It’s a committee composed of three Senate Republicans, three House Republicans, two House Democrats, and two Senate Democrats — in other words, a GOP-controlled body.

The JCT’s impact assessment is some of the only information lawmakers have to go on as they contemplate the policy consequences of this legislation. It’s also worth noting that Congress doesn’t  even have the official analysis of the tax plan from its own Treasury Department. As a result, a Treasury watchdog group is opening an investigation as to why the analysis was never made public.

The criticism that the committee’s analysis of the tax bill isn’t fully complete does a have bit of truth to it. But that is the fault of GOP senators, who were making last-minute decisions on the fly last night on the Senate floor, playing fast and loose with a trillion and a half dollars. In order to get the votes they need to pass the tax bill, the GOP added a number of provisions without figuring out how they would be paid for.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was won over by a $10,000 property tax deduction in the tax bill, for example. This comes with a hefty price tag — including a property tax deduction would make the Senate bill $100 billion more expensive over the next decade, and McConnell only has about $80 billion worth of flexibility.

Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) also got what they asked for, a higher deductible rate for pass-through business owners of 23 percent (up from 17.4 percent) — but again, we have no idea how exactly this will be funded.

The Senate resumes in the early afternoon and potentially will vote on the tax plan as early as later today. Cornyn has indicated he believes they have the votes to pass it.

This is the second recent instance of reckless lawmaking, forgoing regular order, and dismissing valid analyses about a huge piece of legislation’s impact — just weeks after Congress attempted to rush through an Obamacare repeal bill in the same manner.

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Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work