But that was just the messy process. Even worse is the substance of the bill: a heap of broken promises.
Instead, the bill is essentially a big corporate tax cut, with modest (and unevenly-distributed) individual tax cuts on the side.
According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress' official scorekeeper, about 62% of taxpayers will see their tax bills reduced by $100 or more in 2019. The remaining 38% will either pay about the same amount they do now or suffer a tax hike. Among those in most danger of a tax increase are upper-middle-class families in high-tax states such as California and New York, thanks to the elimination of the deduction for state taxes. But wealthier people will come out OK: of those earning between $500,000 and $1 million, 91% will get a tax cut.
Trump said repeatedly that the bill would leave rich folks like him worse off, not better. That's not remotely true.
The biggest broken promise, though, is one fiscal conservatives have made to each other: that their tax cuts won’t add to the national debt. That was a core pledge from the start. “Not only will this tax plan pay for itself, but it will pay down debt,” Treasury Secretary
But the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated last week that the bill would increase the federal budget deficit by $1 trillion over the next 10 years — even after economic growth is factored in. The committee projected that the bill would boost growth by less than 1%, not enough to counteract the revenue loss it will produce.
Among unofficial estimates, even the most optimistic, from the conservative Tax Foundation, forecast that the Senate bill would stimulate less than 3% in growth over 10 years — still not enough to stop the deficit from swelling.
That should worry conservatives, who have long warned that a growing national debt will doom the economy to long-term decline.
If the deficit keeps growing, "our debt literally gets out of control and it ends the American dream as we know it," House Speaker Paul D. Ryan warned in 2012, when he was chairman of the House Budget Committee. "Economists tell us that when your debt gets to 90% as a share of your economy, you start slowing down and you stagnate."
That's exactly where we're heading.
The federal debt currently stands at about $15 trillion, about 77% of gross domestic product, according to the
That’s why Sen.
"If everybody's so confident that these revenue projections are going to be met, they shouldn't be a problem," he said.
Corker's colleagues hated his idea and shot it down.
That's because this battle has been mostly about politics, not policy. Trump and the GOP leadership in Congress wanted a big success by the end of the year; there was little time for calm deliberation. They wanted to show their supporters — voters and donors alike — that they could pass Republican legislation, including tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.
Now, if the economy accelerates, they'll claim the tax cut produced the improvement. If it doesn't, they'll blame something else. And soon, they'll express dismay as the federal deficit gets bigger.
In fact, they already have. The next item on the agenda, Trump said recently, is "getting spending under control," specifically welfare reform: "People are taking advantage of the system."
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida suggested a bigger target. “The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and
But wait: Didn't Trump promise, during his campaign, that there would be "no cuts" to Social Security or Medicare?
He did. Future beneficiaries of those programs can breathe easy. After all, in the Trump administration, a promise is a promise.