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How Tax Reform Will Unfold: The political landscape in the wake of Trump-Ryan health bill’s demise

Charles S. Konigsberg has served as General Counsel at Senate Finance Committee, legislative advisor to three White House Budget Directors, Minority Chief Counsel at Senate Rules Committee, and counsel at Senate Budget Committee.---In evaluating where the White House and GOP congressional leaders will focus their efforts following the demise of Trump-Ryan health care reform, consider the following: $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending is a heavy lift due to significant conservative opposition to new spending and few indications of a move toward bipartisanship; and the White House budget plan calling for $54 billion in defense increases, offset by cuts to widely supported domestic programs, is a non-starter because adjusting the spending caps and enactment of Appropriations bills both require 60 votes in the Senate. Therefore, tax reform is likely to be next in the legislative queue. White House and GOP Congressional leaders are likely to begin Tax Reform this Spring using the FY 2018 congressional budget process, to take advantage of Budget Reconciliation’s filibuster-proof fast-track in the Senate. Here’s how it works and what may be included in the tax bill...

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Recent Blog Posts
Essential Facts About the American Health Care Act (“Trump-Ryan”)

As the House prepares to vote on the American Health Care Act (HR 1628 “Trump-Ryan”), following are the essential facts about how the bill would change the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”): Background on US healthcare: About half of all Americans have employer-provided healthcare, which...

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Trump Budget Outline Calls for Massive Shift in Spending Priorities

The Trump Administration released a budget outline Thursday morning, addressing the 30% of the budget that is appropriated annually by Congress (i.e. defense and non-defense discretionary spending).  Proposals on entitlement programs and tax reform are expected to be released in May.   Link to Trump...

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Recent Headlines and Key Dates

  • Upcoming deadlines:
  • April 28, 2017: Stopgap funding (continuing resolution) for FY 2017 will expire.
  • April 15, 2017: Deadline for adopting a Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution, however, this will be delayed because action on repeal-and-replacement of the Affordable Care Act must be completed before action is taken on an FY 2018 budget plan.
  • March 15, 2017: Debt Ceiling will technically expire March 15, 2017, although "extraordinary measures" by the Treasury Department could postpone the deadline until summer or fall.  See deficits and debt page for background.
  • Recent Developments:
      • March 24, 2017:  Lacking sufficient votes for passage, congressional leadership withdraws the American Health Care Act.
      • March 23, 2017:  CBO releases an updated cost estimate for the American Health Care Act showing little net change in health insurance coverage (still 14 million more uninsured in 2018 and 24 million in 2026), but less deficit reduction ($168 billion, instead of $337 billion) due in part to lowering the threshold for allowable deductions of medical expenses by taxpayers who itemize, as well as a net reduction in projected Medicaid savings due to some modifications.
      • March 16, 2017:  House Budget Committee packaged the legislative language reported by the Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce Committees into a single Budget Reconciliation Bill (a ministerial function of the Budget Committee).
      • March 13, 2017:  CBO (Congressional Budget Office) and JCT (Joint Committee on Taxation) released their nonpartisan Analysis of the GOP Repeal and Replace Legislation ("American Health Care Act") finding that: (1) in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured rising to 24 million by 2026 , with the increase resulting from cuts in Medicaid, repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate, and people not being able to afford higher premiums.; and (2) enacting the legislation would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over 10 years, with the largest savings coming from reductions in outlays for Medicaid and from the elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) subsidies for health insurance, and the largest costs under the legislation would come from establishment of a new tax credit for health insurance and lost revenues from repealing taxes including the increase in payroll taxes and net investment income for high-income taxpayers and annual fees imposed on health insurers. The analysis notes that under the legislation, premiums would go up substantially for older people, and down for younger adults, because the legislation would allow insurers to charge 5 times more for older enrollees than younger ones.
      • March 9, 2017:  Quadrennial 2017 Infrastructure Report Card released by American Society of Civil Engineers giving the U.S. a cumulative grade of D+ and finding: " We can no longer afford to defer investment in our nation’s infrastructure. To close the $2.0 trillion 10-year investment gap, meet future need, and restore our global competitive advantage, we must increase investment from all levels of government and the private sector from 2.5% to 3.5% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025."
      • March 8, 2017:  The Hill:  Battle Erupts Over "Trumpcare"
      • March 8, 2017:  FedWeb Blog on House GOP repeal-and-replace legislation
      • March 7, 2017:  CBO released a report on the debt ceiling stating, "If the current suspension is not extended or a higher debt limit is not legislated before March 16, the Treasury will, from that date forward, have no room to borrow under standard operating procedures. Therefore, to avoid breaching the ceiling, the Treasury would begin taking the extraordinary measures that would allow it to continue to borrow for a limited time. Continued use of those measures, along with regular cash inflows, should allow the Treasury to finance the government’s activities for the next several months without an increase in the debt ceiling." (emphasis added)
      • March 6, 2017:  House Republicans release legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.   Ways and Means Committee Print     Ways and Means Section by Section Summary     Ways and Means Two Page Summary     Energy and Commerce Committee Print     Energy and Commerce Section by Section Summary
      • March 3, 2017:  CBO releases new estimates on cost of the Affordable Care Act, which shows the cost of insurance coverage provisions dropping substantially compared to original projections.
      • Feb. 24, 2017:  Obamacare repeal-and-replace leaked House draft
      • Feb. 16, 2017:  House Republicans released a brief outline of their plan to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act that calls for:  eliminating the health insurance mandate and federal standards for insurance coverage;  replacing health insurance subsidies with monthly refundable tax credits and an expansion of tax-preferred health savings accounts; and repealing the expansion of Medicaid for "able-bodied adults" while capping federal Medicaid payments to States, in an effort to cut projected Medicaid expenditures. The outline includes a goal of "protecting patients with pre-existing conditions," although details are unclear. Tax credits would not be available to pay for any insurance plans that cover abortions. Taxes enacted to pay for Affordable Care Act subsidies would be repealed without details on how refundable tax credits would be paid for.  See our Affordable Care Act page for ongoing coverage.
      • Feb. 16, 2017:  Senate confirmed Rep. Mick Mulvaney as the new Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by a 51-49 vote.
      • Feb. 2, 2017:  CBO released interest rate projections for 2017-2020:  "As slack (that is, unused productive resources) in the economy keeps diminishing, the Federal Reserve will continue to reduce its support of economic growth, in CBO's view. As a result, CBO expects the federal funds rate--the interest rate that financial institutions charge each other for overnight loans of their monetary reserves--to rise gradually over the next few years, reaching 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 and 2.8 percent by the end of 2020."
      • Feb 1, 2017:  CBO Director Keith Hall testified at Senate Budget Committee on the budget and economic outlook:  "In fiscal year 2016, for the first time since 2009, the federal budget deficit increased in relation to the nation’s economic output. CBO projects that over the next decade, if current laws remained generally unchanged, budget deficits would eventually follow an upward trajectory—the result of strong growth in spending for retirement and health care programs targeted to older people and rising interest payments on the government’s debt..."
      • Jan. 24, 2017:  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released it's annual report, The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017-2027, see Timeline Page for highlights.
      • Jan. 18, 2017:  CBO and JCT released nonpartisan analysis of the effects of repealing Affordable Care Act subsidies and mandate penalties, while leaving the ACA's insurance market reforms in place.
      • Jan. 17, 2017:  GAO released "The Nation's Fiscal Health - Action is Needed to Address the Federal Governments Fiscal Future" finding that "Federal spending continues to outpace revenue—by $587 billion in 2016—and, absent policy changes, the structural gap between revenues and spending puts the federal government on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path."
      • Jan. 12-13, 2017:  The Senate voted 51-48 on Jan. 12 and the House voted 227-198 on Jan. 13 to adopt S Con Res 3, the FY 2017 Congressional Budget Resolution, clearing the way for relevant congressional committees (Senate Finance and HELP; and House Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means) to report filibuster-proof Budget Reconciliation legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

About Charles S. Konigsberg and the Federal Budget Group LLC
Charles Konigsberg

Charles Konigsberg, President of the Federal Budget Group and Founder of FedWeb.com, has served as Assistant Director at the White House Office of Management and Budget, General Counsel and minority Chief Counsel at Senate Finance Committee, Minority Chief Counsel at Senate Rules Committee, Staff Attorney at Senate Budget Committee, and is Author of America’s Priorities: How the U.S. Government Raises and Spends $3 Trillion Per Year.

2017 Congressional Calendar

(Note: House is in recess numerous Mondays and Fridays; check majorityleader.gov)

  • Jan 3: Congress convenes
  • Jan 16: MLK, HSE recess thru 1/19
  • Jan 20: Inauguration
  • Jan 26-27: HSE recess
  • Feb 9-10: HSE recess
  • Feb 20-24: Pres Day recess
  • Apr 10-21: Easter/Passover recess
  • May 5-15: HSE recess
  • May 29-Jun 2: Mem Day recess
  • Jul 3-7: July 4 recess
  • Jul 31-Sept 4: Summer recess
  • Sept 21-22: Rosh Hashanah recess
  • Col. Day: Oct 9; SEN thru 10/13
  • Oct 16-20: HSE recess
  • Nov 10: Vets Day recess
  • Nov 20-24: Thanksgiving recess
  • Dec. 14/15: Target Adjournment