Lawmakers, Lobbyists Brace for Coming Tax “Super Bowl”

Affected industries are eager to finally see the details of the GOP plan.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Oct. 25, 2017, 8 p.m.

One of the biggest tax bills in 30 years is about to see some daylight, and there is a growing sense of anticipation among both lobbyists and lawmakers.

House tax writers are set to release their draft tax-overhaul bill next week, after Congress adopts and the president signs the 2018 budget resolution they’ll need to advance the measure. And while the past year-and-a-half has been a roller-coaster for tax experts, the next few weeks will be even more intense as lawmakers reveal how they will pay for their proposal to steeply cut income taxes.

“I’d say it’s like a team getting ready to go out for the Super Bowl, and your nerves are there, your adrenaline is there, and you just want to get the pregame ceremonies over so you can get out there and start playing,” Ryan Ellis, a conservative tax lobbyist, said of the climate in the tax world.

Lawmakers, too, are anticipating that once Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady reveals details of the closely held tax plan, every interest in D.C. will be on full alert.

“It’s not going to be easy, and some people are going to get upset, but that’s what we were sent up here for,” Sen. John Kennedy said Tuesday about the search to pay for the tax cuts.

What big revenue-raising provisions have been made public were met with opposition, and sometimes confusion. The border-adjustment tax, a levy on imports but not exports, died earlier this year after pushback from retailers. The proposal to eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes is facing steep opposition from lawmakers in high-tax states.

After reports surfaced that lawmakers were considering limiting 401(k) contributions as a way to raise revenue, President Trump tweeted Monday that the idea was going nowhere. Brady contradicted the president in a Wednesday breakfast with reporters, saying the tax writers were “continuing discussions with the president,” leaving open the possibility that lawmakers would change the tax treatment of retirement plans.

But Ellis said that among industry groups there is a sense that the train is leaving the station, and now is the time to make sure their companies’ interests are voiced as lawmakers write the tax bill.

“People realize that there is going to be a process here—that there is going to be a House process, a Senate process,” Ellis said. “What we saw in the blueprint evolved to what we saw in the framework; what we saw in the framework has evolved to where we are now.”

Jamie Gregory, deputy chief lobbyist at the National Association of Realtors, said his organization has been working for months on the details of the tax plan, notably on making sure that the proposal to double the standard deduction doesn’t dilute the deduction for mortgage interest, a prized provision for the real estate industry. If more people choose the bigger standard deduction, they won’t itemize and use the mortgage interest deduction, and thus may be less inclined to buy a home, critics of the proposal say.

“Going forward, when the draft is finally released we’ll do some fairly quick research, we’ll run the specifics through a model that we’ve created and try to hatch some hard information on exactly what the impact of the new language will be,” Gregory said.

NAR recently placed online video ads in every Ways and Means Committee member’s district, saying the plan shouldn’t increase taxes on middle-class homeowners.

Inside the government, the effort to push the tax legislation past the finish line is ramping up as well. Trump lunched with senators Tuesday and went over broad points of the tax bill.

The current tax-overhaul framework calls for a corporate rate of 20 percent. Any higher, and some conservative lawmakers have said they won’t support the measure.

Ivanka Trump is pressing for an expanded child tax credit, holding a Capitol Hill press conference Wednesday with key Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Tim Scott, a Finance Committee member. Ivanka Trump and Scott, along with other lawmakers, are pushing for a $2,000-per-child credit, double the current amount. Scott said that they were close to achieving that goal in negotiations, but haven’t secured a deal.

“This is a dynamic process. We certainly have proposals that have the $2,000 tax credit there, but we need to get our members involved in this process, so we are looking forward to a vigorous debate,” Scott said.

The Ways and Means Committee met Tuesday and Wednesday in an effort to iron out the final details of their tax bill.

But key questions remain unanswered. For example, lawmakers still haven’t worked out a compromise with Republican members in high-tax states such as New Jersey and California, who are concerned that the proposal to eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes will hit their constituents hard. If they can’t reach a deal, it may jeopardize the upcoming House vote on the budget resolution, set for a vote Thursday.

Brady said at the breakfast, sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, that lawmakers will likely release a compromise before they unveil the tax bill next week.

“It’s a work in progress, but I think we’re making good progress,” Brady told reporters.

What We're Following See More »
AVOIDS SHUTDOWN WITH A FEW HOURS TO SPARE
Trump Signs Border Deal
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump signed a sweeping spending bill Friday afternoon, averting another partial government shutdown. The action came after Trump had declared a national emergency in a move designed to circumvent Congress and build additional barriers at the southern border, where he said the United States faces 'an invasion of our country.'"

Source:
REDIRECTS $8 BILLION
Trump Declares National Emergency
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"President Donald Trump on Friday declared a state of emergency on the southern border and immediately direct $8 billion to construct or repair as many as 234 miles of a border barrier. The move — which is sure to invite vigorous legal challenges from activists and government officials — comes after Trump failed to get the $5.7 billion he was seeking from lawmakers. Instead, Trump agreed to sign a deal that included just $1.375 for border security."

Source:
COULD SOW DIVISION AMONG REPUBLICANS
House Will Condemn Emergency Declaration
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"House Democrats are gearing up to pass a joint resolution disapproving of President Trump’s emergency declaration to build his U.S.-Mexico border wall, a move that will force Senate Republicans to vote on a contentious issue that divides their party. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Thursday evening in an interview with The Washington Post that the House would take up the resolution in the coming days or weeks. The measure is expected to easily clear the Democratic-led House, and because it would be privileged, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would be forced to put the resolution to a vote that he could lose."

Source:
MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, DRUG FORFEITURE FUND
Where Will the Emergency Money Come From?
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"ABC News has learned the president plans to announce on Friday his intention to spend about $8 billion on the border wall with a mix of spending from Congressional appropriations approved Thursday night, executive action and an emergency declaration. A senior White House official familiar with the plan told ABC News that $1.375 billion would come from the spending bill Congress passed Thursday; $600 million would come from the Treasury Department's drug forfeiture fund; $2.5 billion would come from the Pentagon's drug interdiction program; and through an emergency declaration: $3.5 billion from the Pentagon's military construction budget."

Source:
TRUMP SAYS HE WILL SIGN
House Passes Funding Deal
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

"The House passed a massive border and budget bill that would avert a shutdown and keep the government funded through the end of September. The Senate passed the measure earlier Thursday. The bill provides $1.375 billion for fences, far short of the $5.7 billion President Trump had demanded to fund steel walls. But the president says he will sign the legislation, and instead seek to fund his border wall by declaring a national emergency."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login