No matter the topic, Donald Trump has proven again and again both that he’s not very articulate and that his knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, the legislative process in general and the congressional budget process in particular is limited.
That’s why it hasn’t been surprising that those who are closely following the federal budget and the midterm election almost immediately dismissed Trump’s talk of a ten percent tax cut for middle-income Americans in the next two weeks as a desperate campaign stunt rather than a serious proposal. After all, Congress won’t even be in session.
That’s probably still the most likely analysis of the situation, especially because there have been ample reports that the Republican congressional leadership, including the chair of the House’s tax-writing committee, was caught unawares by Trump’s statement and disavowed all knowledge of the plan.
But what if, rather than making an off-the-wall campaign promise that he has no plan to pursue when the election is over, Trump was actually inarticulately stating what he wants to do and how he plans to do it?
The clue might be Trump’s use of the word “resolution” when explaining how he was going to proceed.
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As reported by CNBC, Trump told White House reporters yesterday,”We’re putting in a resolution some time in the next week and a half to two weeks [and] we’re giving a middle-income tax reduction of about 10 percent.” (emphasis added)
Trump’s use of the word “resolution” might be due to his lack of understanding of how Congress works. But it’s curious that he didn’t use a simpler and more common word like “bill,” legislation,” or “proposal” to describe what he was going to put in.
This is particularly interest because “resolution” has a special meaning in the congressional budget process. Using a “budget resolution” as the first step on the path to the tax cut would make it much much easier to enact.
As I explained in this post yesterday, Congress adopting a budget resolution could prevent the new Trump tax plan from being filibustered in the Senate because that would enable it to be considered with reconciliation, the same procedure used to pass last year’s tax bill.
That’s not to say that going the budget resolution route would be easy or politically painless, but it could work. Here’s how I described it in my post yesterday;
“The process could be expedited if the House passed the budget resolution already adopted by its budget committee, if the Senate then agreed to what the House passed with an amendment requiring reconciliation, if the House then passed the budget resolution with the Senate amendment, if the House Ways and Means Committee quickly adopted the Trump plan, if the full House quickly passed what the committee approved and if the full Senate bypassed its Finance Committee and adopted the House-passed bill without making any changes.”
It’s not at all hard to imagine Trump being briefed by his staff on this very complicated procedure and that he then garbled what he was told when he described his tax plan to reporters.
Then again, it’s also very possible that there really is no tax plan of any kind.
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