Friday, December 22, 2017

Volokh Conspiracy: Why The Tax Bill Stinks

   But whatever damage the bill may or may not inflict on the US economy over the coming years, it has already inflicted damage, which might be considerable, via the manner in which it was foisted on the American people. Not a single public hearing on a bill that has the potential to be the most significant economic legislation in decades. No real public debate, because nobody - except the lobbyists, of course - knew what was in the (400-page) bill until it was basically time to vote. No "experts" - God forbid! - giving us their analyses of the bill's provisions; the only interest anyone seemed to have in the CBO analyses was in the estimate of the cumulative 10-year effect on the deficit, and that was only because a too-large number would have taken the bill outside the "reconciliation" process in the Senate and required 60 votes (i.e., same small measure of Democratic support) (a problem the GOP solved by early termination of the individual, but not the corporate, tax breaks - Nice!). No attempt whatsoever to try to find any sort of bipartisan common ground.
   I know there are some people who respond to this charge with some variant of "Well, the Democrats did that too, when they controlled Congress and the White House, in 2008-09, with Obamacare . . ." The response is the same as to the "But he started it!" defense familiar to anyone with a 9-year old around the house: other peoples' misbehavior does not justify your own. There's a right, and there's a wrong, way to conduct yourself, and it does not depend on the extent to which others do or do not conform. The Republicans had a chance to do this the right way, a chance I thought they might seize after the initial failure of the Obamacare repeal. But they didn't seize it. Quite the contrary; they've made it, I fear, the new normal. And we will pay the price for that down the road, for sure.


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