Update 319: Do Democrats Have Ways & Means
To Pass Real or Just Marginal Tax Reform?
Given the new majority in the House starting next month, the House Ways and Means Committee, with its exclusive jurisdiction over tax legislation, means the end of tax cut mania in Congress. The immediate challenge in this policy area for Democrats will be to decide what, if anything, to do about the Trump tax cut (TCJA) signed into law last year.
Should Democrats seek to repeal TCJA and replace it or restore the status quo ante? Or assume Americans have had enough of tax policy — and the inequitable cuts, corporate breaks and fiscal devastation TCJA represents — and leave it alone? Or identify the worst of the TCJA provisions and reverse those?
Today we look at the choices and agenda before the incoming chair of Ways and Means, Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts.
Good weekends all.
In the 116th Congress, the House Ways and Means Committee will be chaired by current Ranking Member Richard Neal. A Springfield, Mass. native, Neal has served on the Committee since 1993 and is a close ally of Speaker -designate Pelosi. His voting record closely mirrors hers; his standing gives him influence and leverage despite a low profile for a senior member. His efforts to achieve a consensus among a diverse set of Committee Democrats will be critical.
The final Committee makeup has not yet been determined, but if the same ratios hold between majority and minority, there will be 24 seats on the Committee for Democrats — 10 of which will be open. Freshmen do not typically get a spot on the Committee, but a few notable new House members are openly jockeying for seats on the panel, including Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Under current Committee Chair Kevin Brady, Republicans forced through a budget-busting $1.5 trillion tax bill and tried to pass a follow-up “tax reform 2.0” package. That bill made it through the House mostly along party lines and died in the Senate. During his tenure, Neal has been a long-standing proponent of simplifying the tax code and a reliable partner against unproductive and inequitable tax cut.
Neal hinted at a few legislative areas for the Committee to focus on in the next Congress during a speech before the New England Council on November 27:
- TCJA: The Committee will likely hold hearings on the GOP’s signature tax bill that passed last year. Major revisions to the law are improbable due to to Republican control of the Senate, but the hearings will likely home in on the TCJA’s fiscal recklessness and closely scrutinize a bill that was pushed through Congress without any public hearings. Public opinion sides with the Democrats. Per an internal poll commissioned by the Republican National Committee, nearly two thirds of respondents believe the TCJA benefits “large corporations and rich Americans” over “middle class families.”
- Infrastructure Finance: Rep. Neal has mentioned that there might be prospects for a bipartisan infrastructure bill in the next Congress. He has had conversations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the subject, but there is still no clear consensus on how both parties can agree on financing legislation that would require significant public spending.
- Retirement: Neal has sponsored or co-sponsored eight retirement bills during this Congress. These bills include investor-friendly bills that would plug 401(k) leakage when workers change jobs and tax credits for small employers to offer retirement plans. As chair, Neal could spearhead a piece of legislation for the 40 percent of Americans who don’t have access to a workplace retirement plan. Last year, Neal introduced two bills that would expand retirement plan coverage for millions of Americans, the Automatic IRA Act of 2017 (H.R. 3499) and the Automatic Retirement Plan Act of 2017 (H.R. 4523).
- Healthcare: Neal recently told reporters he will look to hold a hearings on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including hearings on the mandate and on pre-existing conditions. He has also been receptive to discussions about Medicare-for-all, a major policy platform of a number of the freshman class and other progressive House Democrats.
There is some ongoing uncertainty within the Democratic Party about how to deal with some of the social programs advocated during the midterms, such as Medicare-for-all and free college tuition.
This week, incoming Chair of the House Rules Committee, Rep. Jim McGovern, announced that he would not advance a rule proposed by Rep. Pelosi and Ranking Member Neal that would have “require[d] a three-fifths supermajority to raise individual income taxes on the lowest-earning 80 percent of taxpayers.” The rejection of this proposed rule potentially puts Neal at odds with members on the party’s left. These members argue that limiting power to raise taxes would make it harder to pay for some of the programs advocated for on the campaign trail.
Bicameral Bickering or Bipartisanship?
Rep. Neal’s agenda will likely conflict with that of Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is poised to take over chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee from retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch. Grassley will look to shape major tax, health, and trade policies under his Committee’s purview. Though there is major unfinished business on both sides of the aisle in terms of tax policy, cooperation between the respective Committee leaders doesn’t look promising.
Grassley was chair of Senate Finance during the swath of tax cuts under President Bush, while Neal led the Democratic opposition to the 2017 Republican tax plan during his time as Ranking Member of Ways & Means. Similarly, though agreement on infrastructure is badly needed, finding consensus on funding will be tough. Ways and Means and its Senate counterpart are also both likely to undertake significant oversight — but while Neal will be focusing on the IRS and President Trump’s tax returns, Grassley has said he will be keeping a close watch on tax-exempt organizations and Medicare fraud.
Healthcare is an area which may offer some potential for partnership, despite stark divides between the two chairs when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. Grassley voted against the Obama legislation, while Neal led efforts to protect and expand it. Nonetheless, both leaders have listed drug price reduction as a top priority and a possible area of bicameral and bipartisan agreement. Retirement is another area with broad bipartisan support. Neal has expressed that he wants to pass a retirement package that is “palatable to both parties,” and during his time as Senate Finance Chair in the 2000s, Grassley passed the Pension Protection Act, the last major piece of retirement legislation.
Fiscal Black Hole
Ranking Member Richard Neal will finally take the gavel on Ways and Means after over a quarter of a century on the Committee. His leadership on the Committee comes at a time when the annual federal budget deficit is set to hit $1 trillion next year. Yet again, Republicans have left Democrats with a fiscal black hole, putting existing social safety net programs at risk and stymying efforts to fund other much-needed initiatives.
Rep. Neal has the opportunity to change the narrative on Ways and Means and turn the Committee into a bastion of progressive fiscal ideas and proactive policymaking. Although there will be opposition from the Senate, there is hope for some progress as Neal has worked on many bipartisan initiatives in the past. Neal’s long-standing tenure on the Committee demonstrates his depth of experience as a serious and dedicated fiscal legislator; his time with the gavel is long overdue and he is well poised to lead from the front come January.
32 thoughts on “Ways & Means Under Rep. Richard Neal (December 14)”
We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
Your site provided us with useful information to work on. You’ve done a
formidable job and our entire neighborhood might be grateful to you.
We are a group of volunteers and starting a new
scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with valuable
info to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and
our whole community will be grateful to you. asmr 0mniartist
It’s going to be finish of mine day, however before
finish I am reading this fantastic article to increase
my experience. 0mniartist asmr
Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is
really informative. I’m gonna watch out for brussels.
I will be grateful if you continue this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing.
Cheers! asmr 0mniartist
You are so awesome! I don’t believe I’ve truly read something like this before.
So wonderful to find someone with unique thoughts on this
issue. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is
something that is required on the internet, someone with a bit
of originality! asmr 0mniartist
Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article.
I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info.
Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.
I am extremely inspired along with your writing skills and
also with the structure in your weblog. Is that this a paid topic
or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it’s uncommon to see
a nice weblog like this one today..
Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well
written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to
read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.
I’ll definitely return.
Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed!
Very useful information specially the last part 🙂
I care for such info much. I was seeking this particular information for a very
long time. Thank you and best of luck.
Every weekend i used to pay a visit this site,
as i wish for enjoyment, as this this web site conations actually fastidious funny material too.
Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message
home a little bit, but other than that, this
is excellent blog. An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.
It is appropriate time to make a few plans for
the future and it’s time to be happy. I’ve learn this put up
and if I may just I want to counsel you few interesting issues
or advice. Maybe you could write subsequent articles relating to this article.
I want to read more issues approximately it!
My family members every time say that I am wasting my
time here at web, but I know I am getting familiarity daily by reading thes fastidious articles.
I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but good topic.
I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
Thanks for wonderful info I was looking for this info for my mission.
It’s difficult to find well-informed people on this topic, but
you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks scoliosis
Hi to all, it’s actually a nice for me to visit this website, it includes
priceless Information. scoliosis
My partner and I stumbled over here different website and thought I may as well check things out.
I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to looking over your web
page yet again. https://785days.tumblr.com/ free dating sites
I got this web site from my friend who told me regarding this web
page and now this time I am visiting this website
and reading very informative articles at this place.
An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment.
I think that you should publish more about this subject
matter, it may not be a taboo matter but usually folks don’t talk about such topics.
To the next! Kind regards!!
Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all people
you actually recognise what you’re speaking approximately!
Bookmarked. Please additionally talk over with my
web site =). We could have a link alternate contract among
Good post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I
stumbleupon every day. It will always be helpful
to read through content from other writers and
practice something from their websites.
Hello there! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.
Is it very hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but
I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to start.
Do you have any tips or suggestions? Thanks
Howdy I am so grateful I found your blog, I really found
you by mistake, while I was researching on Aol for something else,
Regardless I am here now and would just like to say
cheers for a remarkable post and a all round interesting blog
(I also love the theme/design), I don’t have
time to go through it all at the moment but I have saved
it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I
will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the great work.
I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
Plz answer back as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to find out where u
got this from. thanks
Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
you made blogging look easy. The overall look
of your web site is wonderful, as well as the content!
After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked on the
-Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I
get 4 emails with the exact same comment. Perhaps there is a way you are able to remove
me from that service? Kudos!
I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting
my own blog and was wondering what all is required to get set
up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% positive.
Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.
I am regular visitor, how are you everybody?
This paragraph posted at this web site is actually good.
Very informative blog.Really thank you! Really Great.
Hi! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok.
I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.
A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment.
There’s no doubt that that you need to publish more about this topic,
it may not be a taboo matter but generally folks don’t discuss such issues.
To the next! Many thanks!!
It’s in fact very difficult in this full of activity life
to listen news on Television, therefore I just
use internet for that reason, and get the latest