As congressional Republicans scramble to get their act together to roll out their long-awaited tax bill, they are fighting distractions in every direction, from lobbyists haranguing them on their favorite items to leave in or leave out, to breaking news on other subjects.
But they have to worry most about distractions generated by their party’s leader.
The president’s apparently serious suggestion that the legislation be officially named the Cut Cut Cut Act of 2017 was bad enough. But worse yet were his last-minute tweets calling on Congress to go back down the rabbit hole into health-care legislation and link it to the tax bill.
Yes, that’s right: With Congress having failed twice to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump has the bright idea of tossing one of Obamacare’s central provisions into the tax bill. It’s a provision, moreover, that if removed in isolation from other changes in the health-care system, would cost 15 million people their health coverage and boost insurance premiums by 20 percent, according to a December 2016 estimate from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation. That’s just the sort of lubricant needed to smooth passage of an already endangered tax bill.
Who knows? Maybe Republicans are delaying the tax rollout until Trump is safely in the air en route to a 12-day trip through Asia.