McCon­nell: Tax re­form won’t be bi­par­ti­san ef­fort this time.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell said Tues­day that Repub­li­cans are pre­pared to go it alone on tax re­form, say­ing the GOP and Democrats are too far apart on ba­sic prin­ci­ples to even try for con­sen­sus.

He was re­spond­ing hours af­ter Democrats laid out their red lines, say­ing they want to co­op­er­ate but will work only on plans that don’t ben­e­fit the wealthy or in­crease the deficit.

Those are non­starters for Repub­li­cans, who say that tax rates must be cut across the board to get the econ­omy roar­ing and that trumps even the grow­ing deficit.

“I don’t think this is go­ing to be 1986, when you had a bi­par­ti­san ef­fort to scrub the code,” said Mr. McCon­nell, Ken­tucky Repub­li­can.

The White House has set an ag­gres­sive timetable for get­ting a deal done this year, and Se­nate Repub­li­cans said that means turn­ing to the same fast-track bud­get pro­ce­dure that they tried to use for their failed Oba­macare re­peal and re­place ef­fort.

The rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process al­lows bills to pass with­out fac­ing a Demo­cratic fil­i­buster, but it would con­strain the GOP’s abil­ity to write a last­ing over­haul that doesn’t deepen the deficit.

Mr. McCon­nell said there might be a few Democrats will­ing to reach across the aisle, but he ex­plic­itly re­jected Se­nate Democrats’ other de­mand that Repub­li­cans forgo rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer kicked off the day with a let­ter, signed by most of the Demo­cratic Cau­cus, lay­ing out his party’s prin­ci­ples for get­ting in­volved.

They said they will not sup­port any plan that cuts taxes for the top 1 per­cent or an ef­fort to pass “deficit-fi­nanced tax cuts,” and said rec­on­cil­i­a­tion would be a recipe for Repub­li­cans to jam through “par­ti­san short-term tax cuts.”

Mr. Schumer said the GOP should have learned its les­son af­ter go­ing it alone on health care, only to see their bill col­lapse when they couldn’t even muster sup­port within their own con­fer­ence.

“There’s a real po­ten­tial for bi­par­ti­san sup­port on tax re­form, but I think our Repub­li­can col­leagues — dic­tated by the Koch broth­ers, hard-right wing of their party — is run­ning away from it,” said Mr. Schumer, New York Demo­crat.

Three Democrats did not sign onto Mr. Schumer’s new let­ter. Each of the three — Sens. Joe Don­nelly of In­di­ana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Vir­ginia — face tough re-elec­tion fights next year in states Pres­i­dent Trump won eas­ily.

The of­fices of Mr. Don­nelly and Ms. Heitkamp did in­di­cate Tues­day that the se­na­tors stand ready to work on the issue on a bi­par­ti­san ba­sis.

Mr. Manchin said he is like­wise hold­ing out hope for a bi­par­ti­san deal, say­ing it would be “kind of hard” for Repub­li­cans to pass a pack­age with­out reach­ing out to Democrats.

“It works bet­ter if we work to­gether. It al­ways has,” he said.

“The most im­por­tant thing is … no more debt. My God, we got enough debt. Can’t we do some­thing that doesn’t in­crease the debt?” Mr. Manchin said.

Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee Chair­man Or­rin Hatch, a key tax-writer, did say he would pre­fer not to use the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process, if pos­si­ble, and that he thinks tax re­form can get done this year.

“But it’s go­ing to take a bi­par­ti­san ef­fort,” the Utah Repub­li­can said.

Repub­li­cans say a ma­jor stick­ing point is the size of the tax cuts, and there­fore the amount of ad­di­tional deficits that would pile up.

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