Republicans want to use a second round of tax cuts to put Democrats between a rock and a hard place

President Donald Trump and Rep. Kevin Brady

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President Donald Trump and Rep. Kevin Brady
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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

  • Republicans want to roll out a second tax cut bill this year.
  • The new bill could force Democrats to make a hard choice right before the 2018 midterm elections.
  • The bill could also help correct some of the errors in the original tax bill.

Even after passing the largest federal tax code overhaul in 30 years, Republicans are making more noise about trying to pass a second tax cut in an attempt to put pressure on Democrats in an election year.

Top Republicans including President Donald Trump and Rep. Kevin Brady, the author of the newly implemented tax law, recently talked up the chances of introducing a second tax bill in Congress.

“We’re actually going for a phase two, which will help – in addition to the middle class – will help companies,” Trump said at a White House event on March 12. “It’s going to be something, I think, very special.

According to Politico, one of the primary reasons the GOP is talking up the possibility is political gamesmanship.

Some Republicans think bringing up a second tax cut bill right before the 2018 midterm elections would force Democrats to either vote against a tax cut – a politically unpalatable proposition – or vote for a bill that Republicans could paint as a legislative victory for the GOP.

Either way, top Republicans like Sen. John Cornyn – the second-highest ranking GOP senator – said Democrats would be in a pickle.

“Can you imagine Democrats voting that down? I mean, how do you explain that one?” Cornyn told Politico.

Not just a game of politics

Republicans used what is known as the budget reconciliation process to pass their first tax law. While the process it allowed the GOP to pass the measure with no Democratic votes, it also imposed strict budgetary rules on the bill.

For instance, the reconciliation process requires that their legislation could not add more than $1.5 trillion to the national deficit over the next 10 years. That forced Republican tax writers to make a series of the tax cut provisions temporary, most notably the cuts for individual tax brackets.

Scott Greenberg, a senor analyst at the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation, said it leaves room for tweaks over the next few years as those expirations come up.

“A number of major provisions in TCJA are scheduled to expire over the next eight years,” Greenberg wrote in a post for the Tax Foundation. “Many of the expiring provisions should instead be made permanent, ideally sooner rather than later. At the same time, lawmakers should also take the opportunity to evaluate which portions of TCJA ought to be improved.”

The sunset of individual tax cuts was targeted by Democrats who claimed it showed that the GOP was prioritizing corporate cuts over the average American’s pocketbook.

Republicans have consistently expressed interest in making those tax cuts permanent in order to give certainty to households.

“Democrats said all the time that these tax cuts should have been permanent, so I would expect them to support that legislation,” Rep. Mark Walker, the head of the influential Republican Study Committee, told the Hill earlier in March.

Additionally, tax writers and experts have found errors in the law’s first few months, prompting the need for a technical corrections bill.

Tucking new tax cuts and technical corrections together would allow Republicans to cover two of their big policy goals in one fell swoop, but would also increase the Democratic resistance to such a bill.

Given that any bill would be subject to a 60-vote filibuster threshold in the Senate, thus needing at least nine Democrats to sign on, the likelihood of passage is slim.