Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Con Man Caucus Paul Ryan and the Gop Remain Unready for Prime Time

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Con Man Caucus Paul Ryan and the Gop Remain Unready for Prime Time

Article excerpt

It is amazing to watch this chaotic horror show play out at the highest levels of a great nation's government. But this is what you have to expect when you hand the reins of power to a con man, whose whole career has been based on convincing naive marks that he's a brilliant deal maker, but turns out to have no idea how to actually govern.

Oh, wait - did you think I was talking about Donald Trump? I'm talking about Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, an obvious phony who nonetheless convinced the rubes - that is, much of the news media and the political establishment - that he was a brilliant fiscal expert. What we're witnessing now is the end of the charade.

Thursday, House Republicans unveiled a tax "reform" bill after the same careful deliberation they exercised when unveiling their attempts to repeal Obamacare. With years to prepare, they waited until the last minute to throw something together, without hearings or serious analysis.

Budget wonks are frantically going through the legislative language, trying to figure out what it would do, but they can take comfort in the fact that the bill's authors are almost equally in the dark.

OK, some things are clear: The bill would give huge tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy, while opening vast new opportunities for tax avoidance. Think of the big tax cuts as having been custom-designed to benefit the Trump family.

But the big tax cuts would blow a multitrillion-dollar hole in the budget, so Republicans have been scrambling to find "pay-fors" that limit the addition to the deficit. What they came up with was a hodgepodge of stuff: ending deductions for some state and local taxes, limiting deductions for mortgage interest, phasing out child tax credits and so on.

Since the point of these measures is to offset tax cuts for the rich, they will, more or less by definition, end up raising taxes on large numbers of middle-class families.

Will this bill pass the House? Unclear: Some important interest groups, like homebuilders and the small-business lobby, have declared opposition. In any case, it almost surely can't become law in anything like its current form: A tax bill can't pass the Senate with less than 60 votes if it raises the long-term budget deficit, which this bill surely does. …

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