4. Much more bipartisanship in 1986 than in 2017. One thing that is certainly hampering tax reform efforts this time around is how things have changed politically in the Congress. Back in 1986, tax reform was done with a big bipartisan effort. The final bill received 292 votes in the House and 74 in the Senate. That seems highly unlikely this time around, as it simply wouldn't be acceptable to large blocks of voters in either party to have a bipartisan bill (even though it should be the goal). I talked with the son of a former big name GOP Congressman the other day, who lamented the vice that politicians are in nowadays, as he argued they don't have the political leeway back home to make a bipartisan tax deal work. I'm not sure I agree with that. I still think experience is a big deal, and most Republicans have never been in this position on a major issue like tax reform. We just saw the difficulties that the GOP encountered with health care. Stay tuned.
5. This is far bigger than the fight over health care. I cannot stress this enough. Yes, we had some well-heeled lobbyists involved in the health care fight. But it will go to another level when we get on to tax reform. 1100 Longworth and H-208 are room numbers that mean something very important in the context of the House of Representatives, and those rooms will be two very powerful destinations for lobbyists who want to impact the course of tax reform in coming months. Back in 1986, they called it "Gucci Gulch," and reporter Jeff Birnbaum wrote a book about it, which is still important reading today.
So, when you hear Republicans talk about tax reform, focus on one thing for now - when will we see a real bill? Once that happens, then the GOP can talk about actually passing legislation through the House and Senate, and getting that to the President's desk.
Before the first vote can be taken, Republicans also need to figure out if they are doing tax reform via budget reconciliation (no filibuster in the Senate) or by the regular legislative process, where a filibuster is possible.
A lot of work remains to be done - it seems unlikely that will happen before the end of 2017, but stay tuned.