Republicans in Congress urgently need a big legislative win, after suffering defeat across the board in Tuesday’s off-year elections.
Tax reform offers the best chance of success. But the proposals currently on the table are very complicated and have generated growing opposition from interest groups who expect to be hurt by various reforms. Meanwhile, Republicans continue to struggle to find a winning formula on immigration and on Obamacare repeal.
The answer may be twofold. First, Republicans should simplify the tax proposal, focusing on the reduction in the corporate tax rate, which is the only “no-brainer” in the bill and is certain to bring in more revenue. The task of simplifying the income tax brackets, and stripping out distortionary tax deductions, may have to be tackled later.
Second, Republicans should add two amendments to the tax bill. One is a proposal to repeal the individual mandate of Obamacare. The individual mandate is the most constitutionally problematic part of the bill, and the essence of what Republicans opposed in 2010. Repealing the mandate is also the only way to reform the system without imposing more costs on patients, at least directly. The rest of the system can be addressed further down the road. A similar “skinny repeal” proposal failed in the Senate on a standalone vote, but it would likely pass when bundled into a must-pass bill like tax reform, which even moderate Republicans would be reluctant to be seen opposing.
The other amendment should be the “New IDEA” bill, already proposed by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) as an addition to the tax reform package. It would prevent employers from expensing wages and benefits paid to illegal aliens. That would not, of course, solve the country’s illegal immigration problem, but it would be an important first step.
Republicans have been in the Democrats’ red zone for a year. But after Tuesday, they are facing fourth down. Best to kick a field goal, and put points on the board, than go for a touchdown and turn the ball over to the Democrats.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.