Most in the GOP see tax reform as the next act. It has been a priority even longer than repeal of Obamacare. House leaders definitely have their eyes on this prize: House Speaker Ryan recently told the Wisconsin State Journal that he plans to introduce a tax overhaul bill in September with the goal of moving it through the House by the end of the year. According to Politico, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said, “We’re not going back to health care. We’re in tax now. As far as I’m concerned, they shot their wad on health care and that’s the way it is. I’m sick of it.” For its part, the White House wants a bill on the president’s desk by December.
Here’s a central question: Will the bill run up the national debt even higher? That would be irresponsible. Publicly held national debt already exceeds $14 trillion. Without any tax cuts or new spending, it is headed for $25 trillion in 10 years. That would produce the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in modern times--crippling our ability to fund a strong national defense, pay for basic services, and care for an aging population.
Take a moment to digest - and applaud - a sign of bipartisan support for dealing with climate change. Last week (July 13) 46 House Republicans voted to reject a measure that would have deleted from the annual defense authorization bill a requirement that the Department of Defense study its vulnerability to climate change. With that Republican support, the amendment was defeated, 234-185
Imagine that after the 9/11 attacks, the conversation had been limited to the tragedy in Lower Manhattan, the heroism of rescuers and the high heels of the visiting first lady — without addressing the risks of future terrorism.
That’s how we have viewed Hurricane Harvey in Houston, as a gripping human drama but without adequate discussion of how climate change increases risks of such cataclysms. We can’t have an intelligent conversation about Harvey without also discussing climate change.
Environmentalists have been trying for a quarter of a century to enact a tax on carbon emissions without coming anywhere close to success. At first blush it seems absurd to believe they might achieve it under a president who denies the very existence of anthropogenic global warming and can’t seem to pass even bills he likes. In the face of this discouraging reality, some Democrats think they have a chance to pass a carbon tax in this congressional term. And the crazy thing is, it’s possible they’re right.
Tax reform may be the last big initiative we will see out of Washington this year. Republican leaders have laid out an ambitious mission to make taxes “simpler, fairer, and lower” for American families, while also lowering tax burdens on small businesses and corporations so they can be more competitive. On the latter front, as the chief negotiators recently outlined in a joint statement, “The goal is a plan that reduces tax rates as much as possible, allows unprecedented capital expensing, places a priority on permanence, and creates a system that encourages American companies to bring back jobs and profits trapped overseas.”