Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

Opinion: GOP tax reform efforts show early signs of promise

Despite efforts by the left to demagogue a tax-reform plan as if they already knew enough details to evaluate its effect on taxpayers and federal revenues, there are signs the "framework" unveiled by key GOP leaders last week is getting the kind of support it needs to win congressional approval.

It's early. A lot of work remains to be done. Insert other words of caution here. But three bits of news this week point in the direction of legislative success -- especially in contrast to the GOP's failure to move an Obamacare bill .

  1. A new poll by Politico/Morning Consult shows a plurality of voters support the current framework, with strong majorities for individual elements of the plan. Importantly, Republican voters were much more supportive of the plan -- a crucial failing of the various GOP health bills -- and support for the bill rose by 11 points after poll respondents heard about a series of the bill's elements (see pages 7-8 here and starting at page 94 here ).
  2. Members of the House Freedom Caucus, some of that chamber's most conservative members, are signaling a willingness to pass tax reform even if it means the current top marginal rate of 39.6 percent remains in place.
  3. At the same time, members of the Blue Dog coalition -- what's left of the House's once-strong collection of conservative Democrats -- broke with the rest of their party and voiced support for a couple of key elements of the framework: lowering the corporate-income tax rate, and setting the rate on "pass-through" income from businesses at 25 percent.

Again, much is left undone at this point. As the details of the framework are filled in, public support may rise or fall. The House Freedom Caucus may or may not be satisfied with the rest of the bill, regardless of what happens to the top rate. And the Blue Dogs may not have enough of their other demands met to actually get to "yes" on a tax bill.

All that said, this is an entirely different dynamic than we saw play out on the GOP's Obamacare efforts. It reflects a more considered, thoughtful approach. And maybe that's because this bill didn't come with seven years of built-up expectations and promises. Whereas "they've had seven years" was seen as a reason Obamacare repeal should have been easy for Republicans, it also meant seven years of people being able to stake out various positions that so far have been impossible to reconcile (at least in the Senate). That isn't as much the case with tax reform.

But it might also owe to the fact tax reform is going through a much more regular legislative process. Even assuming the green shoots of hope come to fruition in the House, we still have to see what will happen in the Senate. But those who complained about the lack of process and Democratic input when it came to health care will have to find another excuse if they're to stand in the way of tax reform.

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About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.