House GOP action in unveiling the American Health Care Act on March 6 to replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, signals that President Donald Trump’s tax reform measures set out in his forthcoming budget are being dictated by the House, according to former Senate budget director William Hoagland.
“The lead here [in the GOP health care bill] is the House and their Better Way” tax reform proposal issued last June, Hoagland, a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center, told ThinkAdvisor on Wednesday. “With all due respect to the administration, I don’t see them playing as big a role” in tax reform. “[Trump is] missing some of his key people — ‘grunts’ that have to put this [tax plan] together.”
Hoagland added: “I expect similar kind of [House] action” dominating the tax reform measures included in Trump’s budget summary — or “skinny budget” — which is expected out this week.
“All of the action is in the House, and the House will take the lead [on tax reform] going forward” with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, in the driver’s seat.
That being said, “I do think this is a very uncertain time on tax reform that has a long way to go.”
Trump’s budget will likely take the form of a “skinny budget,” according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which the committee describes as a “summary document often used by incoming presidents to advance their proposals before additional details are released later in the year.”
Hoagland also sees August as an unrealistic date to have tax reform legislation in front of the president, as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has predicted. “If it’s August for the House [bill], maybe,” he said. But “I’ve never seen tax reform on the president’s desk by August recess. Just no way.”
Lawmakers are talking about possibly passing tax reform under the budget reconciliation process, Hoagland notes, but “you do not get reconciliation authority until you pass a new budget resolution — you have to come to an agreement on a budget resolution” between both chambers of Congress. “So the first big hurdle is passing a budget — that’s not going to be easy.”