This tax reform thing won’t be as easy as Republicans think

Despite all that trickle-down propaganda, about three-quarters of Americans — and more than half of Republicans — believe that wealthy households and big corporations pay too little in taxes

.. That said, Republicans’ main problem isn’t what the little people think. It’s what the lobbyists want and, more significantly, what complicated budget rules allow.

.. Fitting a $2.4 trillion peg into a $1.5 trillion hole will be tricky. Proposals to cut the corporate income tax rate to 20 percent and repeal the corporate alternative minimum tax alone cost $2 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center. Republicans will have to find more offsets, or make the cuts less generous, or both.

.. As a result, Republican lawmakers are even more likely than usual to deploy budgetary gimmicks, such as ludicrous-speed economic growth or pretending that a corporate tax break will expire in five years when everyone knows it will be renewed.
..  “statutory PAYGO,” that hasn’t gotten much attention.This legislation has been on and off the books (it’s been on since 2010) since 1990. It says that if all of the bills passed by the end of the current calendar year have the net effect of increasing deficits, then automatic, immediate, offsetting cuts to certain non-discretionary spending programs — including (yikes) Medicare — go into effect.

.. If Congress successfully passes a $1.5 trillion tax cut before going home for Christmas, $28 billion would get automatically slashed from Medicare between January and September of next year. And that’s just in Medicare. Other popular programs, such as mandatory spending on student loan administration and farm subsidies, would be wiped out entirely

.. But here’s the key: A bill to override these cuts would require 60 votes.

.. Republicans seem to believe they can get the votes by threatening to cast Democrats as killing Medicare. But what’s to stop smart Democrats from pointing out that Republicans put Medicare at risk in the first place?