This probably won't come as a surprise, but Tax Cut Magician and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has admitted that serious tax reform is a pipe-dream that has virtually no chance of happening under the current Congress.
He didn't use those exact words, but that is my interpretation. Ryan said the only tax reform that may be within grasp is reform of the rules governing repatriation of overseas profits, but I have to throw cold water on that.
Ryan cast that sort of deal as a “down payment” on tax reform and said it was likely the most congressional Republicans could accomplish as long as President Obama in office.
“That’s what we’re exploring right now in this divided government,” Ryan said at a conference sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. “And if we can have a good down payment on tax reform, we think we can get some momentum.”
There will be no reform, no "down payment," and no momentum.
We know this because we've already seen the best opportunity for this to happen come and go.
We're a little over a week away from the Highway Trust Fund running out of funds. Democrats have proposed that we pay for the nation's infrastructure by taxing the repatriation of overseas profits, but congressional Republicans have refused; insisting that paying taxes on overseas profits should be voluntary. Republicans have long called for having a "tax holiday" in which corporations could repatriate their profits free of charge.
Congressional Republicans have the means and the leverage to achieve at least some of their goals, but because of their own absolutism they won't achieve any of them.
Conservatives on the hill won't allow a bill that raises taxes to pass, and any bill that lowers taxes on corporations without closing loopholes to make up for lost revenue will be filibustered by Democrats.
Republicans may control both chambers of Congress, but they still don't control much at all.