As with everything in Washington, it’s more complicated than that.
We should really talk about the most recent tweet that President Donald Trump put out:
Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
NOPE! NOT THAT ONE!!!
The one we really want to talk about is a little more substantive than someone misspelling the word “coverage”…
The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2017
What President Trump is talking about are regards to the Senate’s filibuster rules, that requires 60 votes to get legislation passed. Even though Republicans have majorities in both the House and Senate, having a 60 vote majority to pass legislation requires Democratic votes. As you can guess, this annoys President Trump quite a bit.
Much like what the Senate did with only requiring a simple majority for Supreme Court appointments, President Trump wants Senate Republicans to use the “nuclear option” with regards to killing the filibuster for legislative procedures in the Senate. In effect, only a simple majority of 51 votes would be needed to pass legislation in the Senate (ie no need for Democrat votes). For President Trump (and a handful of conservative commentators), they believe getting rid of the legislative filibuster would give them a green light for two of the administration’s biggest legislative goals; the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and a major tax reform.
But does it really give the Trump administration a clear path to passing their legislative goals???
On Passing a Repeal of the ACA (aka Obamacare)
It’s important to realize that even if ACA repeal could be passed in the Senate with a simple majority, it still probably would have a hard time getting real support behind it. The fact of the matter is, right now any ACA repeal by congressional Republicans couldn’t get the 51 votes needed. A big part of this has to do with the unpopularity of ACA repeals, like the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA).
As of this writing, the AHCA is much more disliked by Americans than the current healthcare system that the ACA creates. For Republicans in the Senate, pushing through an unpopular repeal in the Senate could spell doom for their re-election chances in either 2018 or 2020. Based on the backlash from their own constituency, it’s only natural for Republican Senators to be skeptical of any ACA repeal. For them, it’s not about passing a ACA repeal, but passing one that protects their Senate seat!
On Passing a GOP Tax Plan
In the topic of tax reform, the core issue with the Trump administration and Senate Republicans, is that they want systematic changes in the tax code, not just simple tax cuts. That alone makes the entire process of passing tax reform – even if it would be with a simple 51 vote majority – extremely difficult.
Even though Congressional Republicans generally agree on the broad strokes when it comes to tax reform – lower taxes along with cuts to government services – the problem comes in what government services they would want to cut and what services they want to keep. In discussions with reforming the tax code, Republican Senators can’t seem to agree on what cuts should be made.
Traditionally, tax reform has always been a messy legislative process. With multiple groups lobbying over a finite pool of congressional officials, there are so many forces trying to manipulate tax law to their benefit, that it’s hard for even the GOP to reach any type of consensus. Not to mention that there are certain pockets, within the GOP Senate, that want cuts across the board to put more emphasis on decreasing the national debt. Lookn’ at you Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky!
While a simple majority would help push Republican legislation through the Senate, the truth is unless Senate Republicans can get behind a single piece of healthcare or tax reform legislation, changing the rules in the Senate probably wouldn’t make a difference.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)