The GOP's failure to pass a long-promised Obamacare repeal and replacement bill has left the entire Republican legislative agenda back on its heels. They haven't accomplished much this session and they're running out of time to show real progress. In fact, if the GOP were a football team, this would be a 3rd down and 11 kind of situation.
But to take that football analogy a bit further, the good news for the Republican team is that they now have a great pass play drawn up that can get them a big score. The bad news is the team needs to find a quarterback.
The "big play" here is a plan pushed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, billionaire publisher Steve Forbes, and many other conservatives to pass tax reform and make all the tax cuts retroactive to the start of 2017. That way, they argue, people will see their paychecks grow as soon as January begins and the economy will get the tax cut boost as soon as possible.
Oh, and that kind of tangible increase in take home pay would go a long way to making the voters believe something is indeed getting done by the Republicans in Washington. The GOP has successfully executed this tactic before, as it did in 2001 when it the Bush tax cuts were passed and taxpayers received rebate checks. Electorally, that helped the Republicans gain seats in the 2002 midterms and President George W. Bush win re-election in 2004.
But who's going to direct this plan through the ranks of a divided Republican Party? All tax and spending legislation must begin in the House of Representatives, and that means Speaker Paul Ryan is going to be initially responsible to lead the effort. Ryan had his troubles during the ill-fated Obamacare repeal efforts, but he did deliver enough votes for that bill to pass the House in May.