Top House Republicans were planning to unveil their much-anticipated tax bill Wednesday. Then late Tuesday night, they postponed it to Thursday.
Whatever they release will be the first time the majority of the Republican Party will learn exactly what's in the GOP tax plan — and, they say, it will not be final.
But as Wall Street Journal tax reporter Richard Rubin explained on Sunday, that is all part of the Republican strategy on tax reform:
The plan is to keep the tough trade-offs in the bill secret until after Halloween, then reach Thanksgiving with bills passed by the House and Senate and hit New Year's Day with a bill on President Donald Trump's desk. That's close to financial-crisis speed, pushing Congress into a kind of emergency lawmaking mode it typically uses only when inaction means cataclysm.
Through Tuesday night, the tax-focused House Ways and Means Committee and President Donald Trump were still litigating fundamental aspects of the tax bill — the exact nature of the corporate tax rate cut, and which tax deductions they will reduce or repeal to pay for the cuts.
"We don't have the details — that's why I'm frustrated," Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) said last week.
Overhauling the nation's tax code will have a lot of winners and losers, and as Obamacare repeal already showed, the Republican Party is still reckoning with deep divides within its ranks. But so far, it appears like top GOP leaders are following the same playbook as before: creating a sense of urgency to get something done by year's end, even if the party disagrees on fundamental aspects of the policy, and hiding that something from their own members until absolutely necessary.
"The reality is some form of tax reform is going to pass — what it looks like, we don't know," Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) said. "Whether it's ultimately a meaningful jolt to the economy and capital formation remains to be seen."
One major problem: This is the same strategy that tanked the Obamacare repeal effort.