New Budget Resolution Gives Hope for Phase Two of Tax Reform

June 22, 2018

Tax reform is not over, and Congress is proposing to save enough money to begin phase two. House Republicans recently released a 2019 budget resolution called “A Brighter American Future,” which included provisions that propose saving enough money to make some of the nonpermanent aspects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) permanent.

House Republicans say that the budget resolution includes “pro-growth reforms that build on the economic successes of tax reform.”

What Does the Resolution Say?

Budget resolutions are essentially blueprints of what a party wants the government to spend money on (and not to spend money on) over 10 years. It sets party priorities but is neither a law nor a very detailed document. Still, it is a good sign to see that Congress is looking towards extending provisions in the TCJA.

Section 403 of the current version of the resolution, titled “Reserve Fund for Extending Pro-Growth Tax Policies,” states:

In the House of Representatives, if the Committee on Ways and Means reports a bill or joint resolution that extends the pro-growth tax policies of Public Law 115–97, the chair of the Committee on the Budget may adjust the allocations, aggregates, and other appropriate budgetary levels in this concurrent resolution for the budgetary effects of any such bill or joint resolution, or amendment thereto or conference report thereon.

In essence, this section, in traditional Washington, D.C., parlance, is stating that they want to extend the TCJA (Public Law 115-97) provisions that will provide more growth.

If it Has No Direct Power, What Can it Do?

Building on the economic success of the tax reform involves making more provisions permanent. Many parts of the TCJA were not made permanent, because the TCJA was passed under budget reconciliation, which means that the tax cuts couldn’t increase the deficit outside of a 10-year window.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) told Fox Business that “[phase two of tax cuts] will lead with permanence…the tax cuts for families and small businesses were long term, but they weren’t permanent. We think that’s important for growth and certainty.”

The budget resolution may not pass in its current form, and a concurrent resolution (a resolution passed in both houses) could lead towards easier reconciliation, but it is still an uphill battle. Republicans being able to pass some of the tax measures through reconciliation without support from the Democrats (as they did with the TCJA) is seemingly unlikely for now.

The road towards a phase two of tax reform may take some time, but the Republican budget resolution is headed in the right direction.


 

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