GOP Faction Fights Could Sink Tax Reform, Too

Trying to reform the tax code is going to cause some headaches for the GOP.
Posted at 8:36 PM, Aug 14, 2017

Republicans are hungry for a win and eager to move on after failing to actually repeal and replace Obamacare. Their next target: tax reform. 

But there are a few serious issues, and they span from procedural to ideological. First of all, they are just simply running out of time to get anything done on taxes in 2017. Because of congressional rules, Republicans have to pass a budget for 2018 before they can even touch tax reform.

And getting a budget passed is nowhere near a safe bet. In the House, for example, moderates are refusing to back $200 billion in mandatory spending cuts to programs like Medicaid and Medicare, while conservatives say the cuts aren't deep enough.

That fight may sound familiar because the ideological differences that made health care a failure for the GOP still exist and seem to be here to stay. Not to mention, there are going to be big differences in how the Senate wants to approach the budget; remember, the upper chamber of Congress is more moderate than the House.

But let's say the budget is a go: There's also a fight among Republicans about whether to just pass tax cuts or go ahead and rewrite the actual tax code. Congressional leaders want an overhaul, which would require both tax cuts and getting rid of tax breaks; conservatives want the exact opposite approach.

And then there's the fact that the GOP is simply running out of room on the agenda. Republicans still have to find bipartisan compromises to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government, neither of which will be an easy win. The Trump administration has promised a tax package through both chambers of Congress by Thanksgiving. But that's looking less and less realistic.