Republicans Could Be Disappointed

There’s a lively debate going on about whether, and how much, the tax cut bill will hurt Republicans in the midterms. Some people are pointing to the current unpopularity of the bill; the most recent CNN poll shows that 55 percent of Americans oppose it. But Republicans think this opposition will melt away when people see reductions in taxes withheld from their paychecks, starting a few weeks from now. Maybe. I’ll get back to that.

There are a couple of wild cards out there that could change the game. One, a big one, is health insurance. Companies providing employee benefit health insurance had already announced big increases in premiums (thanks in part to Trump), a portion of which are deducted from paychecks. From what I have read this could wipe out at least half of the tax cuts for middle income people and all of the tax cuts for low income people, none of which were all that generous to begin with.  Republicans appear to be blissfully unaware of this.

The other wild card is chaos. Because of the speed and carelessness with which this bill was put together, it’s going to take months to work the kinks out. The IRS has to issue rules for employers for how much to deduct. The IRS may have to design new W-4 forms that everyone will have to fill out and return. The IRS may not be able to process all this in a timely manner.

The chaos is likely to take months — and perhaps longer — to sort out as the IRS begins writing the rules governing the law’s implementation. The agency has already said it doesn’t expect the tax tables helping employers decide how much in federal taxes should be withheld from workers’ paychecks to be ready until mid-January, allowing them to be implemented in February.

“The IRS will be working closely with the nation’s payroll and tax professional community during this process,” the agency said in a statement.

But some tax experts are also concerned about the IRS’s ability to quickly address the mounting concerns. The agency has been attacked by Republicans for years and has seen its budget cut repeatedly, leading some to question whether it will be up to the task. When the IRS’s former commissioner, John Koskinen, stepped down last month, he blamed Congress for underfunding the agency.

“I don’t know how the IRS is going to enforce this stuff. They have to write regulations, give guidance to taxpayers. They are probably going to feel the brunt of this more than anyone,” said Willens, the tax attorney.

The bottom line is that people who expect to see a big change in their deductions in January will be disappointed. And there will likely be many news stories about all the uncertainty and chaos being created by the tax law.

And then there’s Obamacare. Trump actually bragged about killing the individual mandate. That’s going to create another level of chaos, as insurers are likely put their feet down and refuse to insure people with pre-existing conditions.

Amber Phillips wrote in WaPo:

In the throes of his superlative-filled praise of the Republicans’ tax bill, President Trump said this Wednesday: “We essentially repealed Obamacare.”

It is not true — and it could also have been a major political blunder for Trump and Republicans.

Republicans did pass a tax bill Wednesday that undoes one of the central components of Obamacare: the mandate that people have health insurance, or pay a fine.

Health-care experts say that does not mean Obamacare is dead. It is just in trouble — and by extension, so are the health-insurance markets that have framed their business model around the law. That means Trump may have opened up his party — and himself — for taking responsibility for whatever trouble lies ahead for the markets.

We don’t know how extensive the damage is going to be and how widely it will be felt, but it’s going to be felt.  And there will be many, many news stories about the millions of people who are losing their health insurance.

Still, Republicans think they’ve got a winner:

“We will run on tax reform and win on tax reform in 2018,” said Matt Gorman, the NRCC’s communications director. “This bill will help ease the cost of living for millions of Americans who feel left behind.”

On the other hand, it’s equally remarkable that not a single Democrat in either chamber voted for this, including all 10 of the senators up for reelection next year in states Trump won. “Democratic obstruction of middle-class tax reform will be our No. 1 issue going into next year’s elections,” said Senate Leadership Fund President and CEO Steven Law, a former chief of staff to Mitch McConnell….

However, if the middle class doesn’t actually see this tax reform in any tangible way, will they still believe in it?

12 thoughts on “Republicans Could Be Disappointed

  1. Wouldn't it be fun if the IRS employees kind of, you know, took their time with all this extra work they aren't really being paid to do…

  2. 'Cut taxes for the rich in haste, repent at leisure. '

    I'd be willing to bet that many multiple-headed accounting monstrosities will rear their ugly heads in the coming year, and bite them in their fat asses!

    After all, if a political party can't organize a one-car funeral procession, how can anyone expect them to pass a well-researched, well thought out, and carefully written tax bill?

    Especially one where they all tried to top the last conservative's addition go the bill which from Day 1 intended to punish minorities, women, gays, and  other people they don't like, and/or who don't agree with them.

    If I were  Republican in Congress, I wouldn't leave home without putting on Kevlar underwear!

  3. I heard an amusing quote from a GOP flak this morning on NPR, saying that the hasty passage of the Tax Cut bill was intentional – so Lobbyists wouldn't have time to push for changes!

  4. Lobbyists wouldn't push for changes? Who do you think wrote the bill? Lobbyists for the rich and infamous, who else?

  5. Consequence of the tax bill, decreasing house sales. The limit on deductions for federal and state taxes will impact the housing market in  areas that have high taxes.

    Especially older Americans that are trying to hold onto their houses and have few deductions.

  6. "Republicans did pass a tax bill Wednesday that undoes one of the central components of Obamacare: the mandate that people have health insurance, or pay a fine."

    The elimination of the mandate does not take effect until 2019.

  7. My local paper is reporting that 9 million people have signed up for Obamacare for next year compared to 9.2 million last year.  Guess they don't need the mandate.  Of course that won't prevent rising premiums.

  8. As I understand it, insurance companies still have to cover pre-existing conditions. It wasn't repealed – they still have to offer policies according to the minimum standards of O'care. With a lot of healthy people leaving the pool – premiums will spike across the board and bigly. How soon the new withholding tables can be implemented is your guess – how soon insurance premiums spike is also an open question. The conservatives running around with big baskets expecting manna from heaven as a result of the tax cuts … are gonna be sorry. Saw a stat – 80% of O'care enrolees are from red states. Think they won't notice? 

  9. Obamacare enrollees in red states will surely be told that their high insurance premiums and/or high deductibles are the fault of Obamacare, not the tax cuts, as the Republicans play the blame game.

    OC, they are the fault of both, since Obamacare was fashioned as it is in an attempt to get Republican support. Single payer, anyone?

    • Remember, it’s not just Obamacare enrollees who will have to pay more. Thanks largely to Trump’s ending cost-sharing subsidies, a few weeks ago insurers announced they will be substantially jacking up employee benefit insurance premiums. You know, the premiums that get deducted from paychecks.

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