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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Tax experts have finally had a chance to read the Republican tax bill: 'Holy crap'



WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 26:  A protestor holds up a sign during a rally against the GOP health care plan, on Capitol Hill, July 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. GOP efforts to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, were dealt setbacks when a mix of conservative and moderate Republican senators joined Democrats to oppose procedural measures on the bill. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
What happens when you jam 479 pages of hand-scribbled legislative text through the Senate in the middle of the night? You get a mess. Tax experts—who didn't have the opportunity to sit in committees and work with senators on a series of mark-ups—are now reading this thing and are agog at its sloppiness.
Some of the provisions could be easily gamed, tax lawyers say. Their plans to cut taxes on "pass-through" businesses in particular could open broad avenues for tax avoidance. […]
Some provisions are so vaguely written they leave experts scratching their heads, like a proposal to begin taxing the investment earnings of rich private universities' endowments. The legislation H.R. 1 (115) doesn't explain what's considered an endowment, and some colleges have more than 1,000 accounts. […]
"The more you read, the more you go, 'Holy crap, what's this?'" said Greg Jenner, a former top tax official in George W. Bush's Treasury Department. "We will be dealing with unintended consequences for months to come because the bill is moving too fast."
Then we get to the part where we say "fuck you" to Politico reporter Brian Faler, who's writing this story. "Some liken it" (and you know you're doing it wrong when you start a sentence with that) "to when Democrats rushed the Affordable Care Act through Congress and ended up with scads of legislative snafus." You must be new around here, Mr. Faler. If you have some time, here's a really great history lesson on the 25 days the ACA was debated on the Senate floor for 169 hours of total consideration, the weeks it spent in two committees, and the 1,064 bipartisan amendments that were brought up. You can read that or if you don't have time, just look at this.

Faler does note that the process Democrats followed for the ACA took six months, while Republicans did this in just five weeks, but he misses a larger difference.

Republicans were included in every step of the ACA process, and bogged it down at every point they could. They sat in those hours of committee meetings offering amendments. They had meetings with President Obama, and there was a whole summer of the Finance Committee chair, Max Baucus, having unending meetings where Republicans Chuck Grassley and Olympia Snowe strung him along.

In contrast, Republicans completely shut Democrats out of this one. They set the process up under budget reconciliation so that they could pass the whole thing without any Democratic votes and they didn't bother to allow Democrats any consultation. In their cursory hearings, they maintained a united front against Democratic amendments.

Yes, there were a few legislative glitches in the ACA, ones that could have been pretty easily fixed had Republicans been willing to allow it. But here we have a bill that won't just impact part of the nation's economy, like the ACA, but the whole damned economy. And it's the equivalent of scribbles on a dinner napkin.

The GOP Tax Scam is a "working definition of a tax boondoggle" for banks, big oil, developers—and it still needs to pass both houses of Congress before it becomes law.  Call your members of the House AGAIN TODAY at (202) 224-3121, and tell them you are absolutely furious and they must vote NO.

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