As Republicans in the House and Senate hash out their tax bill differences in a conference committee behind closed doors, with the goal of producing a final bill before the holiday break, conservative economists tell TPM that the policies likely to become law will wreak havoc on the country for many years to come. Though Republicans insisted repeatedly over the past few weeks that the $1.4 trillion in tax cuts, most of them geared toward wealthy individuals and corporations, would pay for themselves by stimulating economic growth, they presented no evidence to support their claims.
Instead, the economists and former government officials predicted, the bill will drive up the federal deficit, shrink and destabilize the health care market, exacerbate already historic income inequality, and pressure Congress to make deep cuts to the social safety net and government programs.
“I don’t see how this bill makes America great again,” said Bill Hoagland, a self-described “deficit hawk” Republican who worked for decades for the Senate Budget Committee and now serves as the senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center. “With the populist direction the country has gone in this year, it just doesn’t seem right to give big corporations a permanent tax cut and not individuals. And it’s an open question with those companies—will they translate that back into actual jobs and not into stock options and buybacks?”
Republican senators, who for the last several years have railed against and campaigned on the specter of the federal deficit, voted Saturday on a bill that several independent analyses have said will cost the government at least $1 trillion dollars over 10 years—even taking into account the economic growth it may generate.
In the face of two official government bodies scoring the bill, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation, as well as independent studies by the Tax Policy Center, the Tax Foundation and the Wharton School of Businesses, GOP lawmakers insisted that the tax cuts would spur so much economic growth that they would pay for themselves and then some.
“I am absolutely convinced that this bill will end up reducing the deficit,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) told reporters. “I feel very good about the fiscal situation.”
They provided zero evidence to support this claim. (A promised report from the Treasury Department showing a surge of economic growth turned out not to exist—prompting an investigation by the department’s inspector general.)
Instead, GOP lawmakers coordinated to undermine and discredit the reports showing their bill would bleed the government of more than a trillion dollars in…