Democrats and Republicans in Congress are having a difficult time figuring out how to accomplish a common, and politically urgent goal. Specifically, they both agree that a provision in the health care law that steps up enforcement of business’ tax reporting requirements has to go. It’s too burdensome, they all agree.
Set aside whether they’re right or not, the reason they’re having a hard time getting it done is that they disagree about how to offset the impact on the deficit. Reducing the tax burden on businesses means reducing the amount of money the Treasury collects, and thus a big hole in the budget.
But wait! Don’t Republicans all believe that tax cuts (or ‘tax relief,’ as they prefer) don’t need to be offset with spending cuts or tax hikes elsewhere in the budget? Yes indeed they do. Just not in this case, where it pertains to the health care law — and they’re tying themselves up in knots trying to square their conflicting views.
For instance, here’s Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ), talking to reporters last year about the standards the GOP applies to tax cuts and new spending — specifically unemployment.
“My view, and I think most of the people in my party don’t believe that you should ever have to offset a tax cut,” he said.
On Tuesday, after a Republican Senate Leadership briefing at the Capitol, we put the same question to him — this time about repealing the so-called 1099 requirement in the health care law. If tax cuts don’t need to be offset, why does this tax cut need to be offset.
“This isn’t passing a tax cut, this is repealing a tax increase in effect,” Kyl said. “The 1099 requirement was a revenue raiser of something like $17 billion to help pay for ‘ObamaCare’ and should have never been put on the legislation.”
Don’t be surprised to see this new standard applied to other parts of the health care law as well. Repealing existing taxes on businesses and the wealthy will always pass muster. But any existing taxes passed as part of the health care law will have to be offset by stripping away another chunk of the law — as will likely happen this time.