As Republicans on Capitol Hill sort out the details of their plan to overhaul the tax system, Idaho’s senators seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach.
Parts of the plan are hugely unpopular with the public, especially elements that non-partisan watchdog groups say could actually increase taxes for the poor and middle class while cutting taxes for the wealthy and corporations.
Also troubling are projections that say the federal deficit could explode under the GOP plan, especially if temporary tax cuts aren’t extended by Congress when they expire years down the road. There’s no guarantee that the GOP will still control Congress years from now, of course, and if cuts aren’t renewed later they will have to be paid for with additional debt.
Under congressional rules, lawmakers cannot add more than $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years and none beyond that.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan group, says the bill would actually cost $1.41 trillion over the next decade and $2.2 trillion if all the temporary cuts are made permanent.
That figure should cause senators like Idaho’s Mike Crapo to pause.
Crapo is at the center of this debate as a member of the senate’s budget group and chairman of the Senate’s banking committee. Crapo is a so-called deficit hawk, a senator who’s been critical of legislation that adds to the national debt.
Crapo seems to be counting on a surge of economic growth to help offset the rising deficit, a popular talking point coming from the Trump administration. The thinking goes like this: The tax cuts are likely to spur so much economic growth, the deficit won’t be affected nearly as greatly as projections show.
The concept is called “dynamic scoring,” and accounts not just for what the tax cuts will do on paper but also considers what the tax cuts will do to the economy at large.
“The reality is that if we could get agreement to use a fair dynamic score, which I think would be supported by most economists, these issues would go away,” Crapo recently told the New York Times.
The question, then, for senators like Crapo is how to create a tax policy that grows the economy without totally forsaking the strong position on deficits that fiscal hawks have held for years.
As it stands now, too many Americans see this plan as a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy – that could add billions more to the rising national debt. And Republicans in the Senate can stand to lose only two votes if they want their tax plan to pass.
The House has already passed its version of tax reform, and it’ll likely take weeks for the Senate to finalize its bill and reconcile the two pieces of legislation into a single bill to present to President Donald Trump. The final version will almost certainly be different than the proposals now being scrutinized.
We hope senators like Crapo stick to their principles as they work through the process. We need tax reform built on sound GOP ideals that benefits every day Idahoans, not a giveaway to the wealthy meant to score the president a quick political victory.