What's the GOP's tax plan ultimately going to look like?
I don't know. No one knows. The fact that nobody knows has prompted members of the Freedom Caucus to threaten to block the passage of a Republican budget resolution if they don't receive more information.
Republicans also have to agree on a 2018 budget resolution -- a necessary step to unlock the procedural maneuver they intend to use to pass the tax plan with 50 votes in the Senate. The lack of details of a tax plan is frustrating members of the House Freedom Caucus, who are making clear they’re ready to effectively hold the budget resolution hostage until they get some specifics from their leaders.
“It’s very hard to hard to vote on a budget resolution, which has as its sole objective to move tax reform, when you don’t know what tax reform looks like,” said Representative Dave Brat, a House Freedom Caucus member from Virginia.
He's not wrong. It doesn't make much sense to pass a resolution to facilitate "reform" when you have no idea what your reforms will look like. But this is funny because budget resolutions are more or less meaningless and taking their own (Republican) resolution hostage would hurt them, too. This has nothing to do with Democrats.
You may recall that the GOP's budget resolution for 2017 called for many fantastical things. It called for even deeper cuts than Speaker Paul Ryan has been calling for since 2011, but they ultimately acted on none of the proposals included in it. The legislation that funded the federal government for the remainder of fiscal 2017 actually slightly increased spending over the previous fiscal year prompting celebration and not-so-subtle gloating from congressional Democrats.
Republicans wrote that off at the time by saying they were buying time to pass their agenda, but that was half a year ago and they're no closer to passing their agenda.
With government funding and the debt ceiling placed on a short fuse of just three months, and with Republicans squabbling over a meaningless resolution that they'll be forced to violate almost immediately at the conclusion of those three months, I just don't see how they're going to do any of this.
It feels like a cliche to put it this way, but this is what happens when you send people who hate the government to Washington so they can run the government. It's nearly impossible to thread the anti-government needle because the truth is Americans fucking love government when it gives them health care or saves their asses from a hurricane.
Right as I was about to wrap up this post, it struck me that Republicans will be debating their budget resolution for fiscal 2018 after fiscal 2018 has already started. A functioning Congress would have begun working on fiscal 2018 when the GOP was still drafting resolutions for 2017. At this point I dare to predict we'll see similar circumstances next year with the GOP still grappling with fiscal 2018 when they should be preparing for fiscal 2019.
Not coincidentally, three House Republicans have announced their retirement in the past week.