Periodic Counsel Advisory
Win, Lose, or Draw Your Own Conclusion
“Who cares about the budget in 2002? We’re not going to be here for that.”
Once and current staff director of the House Budget Committee in 1997, on being told of future difficult budget constraints certain policies might bring.
The quote leading into this advisory has a few things to it: First, one might think it was done humorously, but not a trace in the tenor would indicate it. Second, he was in fact not on the Committee by 2002, and last, it was twenty years ago, so lessons are often learned over two decades. Which is the reason for its inclusion: It is a memorable example of the shortsightedness that permeates Congress, and in particular budget process.
The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” as a title has a couple things about it: It has no acronym that was tortured into existence, as has become so common with legislation; that it exists is a step over the reconciliation bill that was vetoed by President Obama, whose forgettable title was stripped out a reason no one has ever explained (it was lousy short title so not much of a loss). Indicative, though, of how the budget stands in Congress today is the absence of the word “reconciliation” in the title.
It was of course a reconciliation bill, which means it was given privileged status under section 310 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Unlike the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, its sponsors saw no reason to draw any attention to its provenance as the result of the fiscal year 2018 budget resolution. It is likely the only reason that H. Con. Res. 71 (115th Congress) was ultimately adopted by Congress on October 26, 2017 when legally required to be agreed to by April 15.
31 U.S.C. xxx
31 U.S.C. xxx