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Congressman Lloyd Doggett

Representing the 35th District of Texas


Politico Morning Tax: One step closer for IRS nominee — 2.0 odds and ends — No end of SALT

September 12, 2018

CLOTURE TIME: There's been no shortage of fits and starts, but Chuck Rettig's nomination to be IRS commissioner takes another big step this afternoon, when the Senate holds a key procedural vote.

The big question no longer is whether Rettig will get confirmed — in fact, it'd be a shock if he wasn't by the end of the week. But it will be interesting to see how many votes Rettig attracts from Democrats, after his nomination advanced on a party-line vote in the Senate Finance Committee in July because of Democratic objections to a separate Trump administration policy change that allows political nonprofits to give less information about donors to the IRS.

It's not exactly unusual anymore when one of President Donald Trump's nominees collects a lot of opposition from Democrats in the Senate. But it will be interesting to see if Rettig — a veteran California tax lawyer who Democrats have acknowledged is qualified for the commissioner's job — racks up the no votes the way that controversial nominees like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did.

One other matter to keep in mind: Will Rettig's somewhat rocky nomination process cause some further bumps when he's in place at 1111 Constitution Ave. NW? Rettig has taken some issues with Democrats' handling of his nomination, including their criticism of his rental property on the eve of his hearing and their blanket opposition in committee over the donor disclosure matter, according to people who know him and are closely watching the process — but those people also expect those issues to be pretty easily put in the past.

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LET'S TALK 2.0: It's official — the House Ways and Means Committee will consider its second round of tax cuts on Thursday morning, H.R. 6756 (115), H.R. 6757 (115) and H.R. 6760 (115). (At least one senior Democrat on the panel, Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas, knocked the GOP for holding the markup around the time Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall around the Carolinas.)

Let's get official: The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the cost of the new plan at $657 billion — though as Pro Tax's Brian Faler noted, that projection also understates the true impact by a fair bit. That's because the 2.0 measure would extend the individual provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, H.R. 1 (115) , that expire at the end of 2025, meaning that only three years' worth of tax cuts are included in the 10-year budget window. And in fact: The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, in calling the new package the "height of fiscal irresponsibility," estimated that 2.0 would cost $5 trillion over two decades when including interest.

How about retirement? That portion of 2.0 has been seen as perhaps the only part that actually has a chance to become law this year, given bipartisan interest in the issue on the Senate side as well. But as Patrick Temple-West from the Financial Services team notes, critics hit out at the House for shearing off some of the provisions in the Senate bill from their own. "The House bill does not spare certain charities and cooperatives such as rural broadband providers from paying high insurance premiums to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federal agency established to fulfill pension obligations in the event an employer defaults," Patrick writes.

A 1.0 interlude: Remember when Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on Monday that the corporate tax cut had basically paid for itself already? As Bloomberg's Lynnley Browning reports, even some big fans of the tax law said that statement was a bit aggressive. Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation called it "a little premature, because we don't know how long this boom will last."