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?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.