Reminder: Republicans Need 60 Votes to Pass Their Tax Plan

I keep seeing stuff like this:

If Doug Jones, the Democratic nominee [for Alabama’s open Senate seat], wins next month, Mr. McConnell’s majority will shrink to one, possibly imperiling the Republican push to overhaul the tax code and most everything else that lawmakers are aiming to do to reverse their spiral before the midterm elections.

If Jones wins, the Republican majority will indeed be reduced to 51-49. But that hardly matters. The tax bill needs 60 votes to pass.

Republicans wrote reconciliation instructions allowing the tax bill to create a deficit of $1.5 trillion in its first ten years. But Senate rules still require the bill to be deficit neutral after the ten-year window. It’s not. It’s not even close. Here is Congress’ own estimate of the deficits produced by the Republican bill:

It’s obvious that these deficits aren’t going to suddenly stop in 2028. That means the tax plan isn’t deficit-neutral after the ten-year window, and that means Republicans will need 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster. As far as I know, there are only two other options:

  • Make the tax bill temporary and have it expire in 2028. That’s what George Bush did. But Republicans have said they don’t plan to do this, and making a business tax overhaul temporary is nuts anyway.
  • Ignore the official estimates and simply declare the bill deficit neutral. However, this is tantamount to killing the filibuster: if the Senate can ignore CBO and JCT estimates, they can ignore the Senate parliamentarian too. That means future Senates can pass reconciliation instructions for pretty much anything and pass them with a simple majority.

The Capitol Hill press corps needs to push back on this and ask Republicans blunter questions about their plan. Do they think they can round up eight Democratic votes? Do they plan to have the bill expire in 2028? Are they prepared to override CBO and JCT deficit estimates? Do they plan to outright kill the filibuster? If not, then what are they up to?

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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