House Speaker Paul Ryan is hoping to pass another tax cut this summer in order to boost Republicans' standings in the polls leading up to November's midterm elections.
Originally hailed as a boon for working families, the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act has flopped as a popular tax plan, with more than 80 percent of the benefits going to the top one percent of Americans.
Under this plan, corporate tax rates were reduced from 35 to 21 percent permanently, while individual rate cuts are set to expire at the end of 2025.
House Republicans are reportedly aiming to make all the cuts permanent, a move which they hope will generate more voter enthusiasm for the party. According to a Tax Foundation analysis, a permanent tax cut will cost an additional $1.5 trillion in the decade after 2025. This is in addition to the more than $1 trillion price tag of the temporary cuts.
Even without a permanent extension, the current tax cuts are expected to inflate the federal budget deficit to over $1 trillion, nearly double what it was when President Donald Trump took office.
“Tax certainty is very important for keeping this good economic news going, so obviously we believe that’s necessary for economic growth,” Ryan told reporters Tuesday. “We fully intend to make these things permanent, and that’s something we’ll be acting on this year.”
Republican Senate hopefuls have expressed hesitation on bringing a permanent tax cut vote to the floor of Congress' upper chamber, due to concerns that red state Democrats could campaign on supporting the cuts, undermining Republican's chances of holding on to the Senate.
Republicans hoping to unseat vulnerable Democrats in states like Indiana, Montana, Missouri, and West Virginia say that holding such a vote may backfire if their opponents are able to run on lower tax rates.
"That’s a very serious concern, and Senator McConnell is going to have to decide what happens in the Senate,” said Ryan Ellis, senior tax adviser with the conservative Family Business Coalition.
“Holding another vote would take away one of the bigger hits we have against Democrats for this fall and gives them a chance to take credit for work and progress made by President Trump and Republicans,” said one Senate Republican campaign official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVa) supports cutting taxes permanently. “Oh, I’ve always been for the middle class getting a permanent tax cut. Absolutely,” Manchin said. “[Republicans have] thrown caution to the wind about anything being fiscally responsible, but these are the people who should have gotten that [tax cut].” Montana's Jon Tester said “I’m absolutely open to it."
But McConnell's seat is pretty safe in Kentucky, and he has said that making the tax cuts permanent is something he is interested in doing. “Of course we would like to make the individual tax cuts permanent,” McConnell said. “We may. We’ll take a look at it, yes.”
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who himself is facing a tough reelection battle, strongly supports a permanent extension of last year's tax cuts, and has sponsored the Senate legislation to do so.