Star News Network’s Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe Talks Infrastructure Bill and Whispering Joe
Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed The Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmakers line to weigh in on the probability of an infrastructure bill passing in the Senate and the cognitive decline of “Whispering Joe.”
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line right now by the very best Washington correspondent in the country. Our correspondent for the Star News Network, and The Tennessee Star, Neil McCabe. Good morning, Neil.
McCabe: Hey, good morning, Michael. Very good to be with you.
Leahy: Neil. Infrastructure gonna happen? Gonna not happen? Who’s up, who’s down? What’s going on in Washington? Because it looks like it’s kind of crazy there.
McCabe: The reconciliation law or rule says that once every fiscal year, a bill can get through the Senate that is privileged from the filibuster. So with a flat 51 simple majority, you can get one bill through a year.
That’s the only legislation that is privileged from the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes in order to force a voter and debate. And this is because that’s supposed to be used for the budget.
But reconciliation has been used in the past. It was used to pass the 2017 tax bill lifetimes in a fiscal year no budget gets passed because there aren’t even 51 votes to get a budget through.
And that’s when we have these continuing resolutions. And so what the Democrats are going to do is they were going to take their whole Christmas tree list, and they’re basically going to take the whole Green New Deal and infrastructure and minimum wage and everything and put it into the reconciliation bill, calling it the budget for the fiscal year 2022.
And the Senate parliamentarian said, actually, no, you can’t do all of that. You can’t put minimum wage in the budget. And so that’s why the Democrats were forced to cut a deal with the Republicans.
And that’s why it’s Senate Republicans who are doing it because it’s the Senate where the action is. You need 10 Republicans to join the 50 Democrats to override and get past the filibuster.
And so Democrats went to the Republicans and said, what can we agree on of the stuff that we can’t do by ourselves? Anything that the parliamentarian will allow to go to reconciliation the Democrats don’t need the Republicans.
So, in effect, what these 10 Republicans have done, is they’ve said, okay, everything that you can get through reconciliation, we’re going to give you. And then the final twist of this is that the Republicans were pretending that if we give them this, they won’t use reconciliation for everything else.
And of course, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and President Biden were saying, well, that’s ridiculous. We’re going to get it all. And then these Republicans were saying, I thought if we gave you all of these trees, you wouldn’t get the other trees.
And that’s why Lindsey Graham was saying, hey, I’m for bipartisanship, but I’m not for a suicide mission. But then you get guys like Portman from Ohio who’s saying, hey, let’s give it to them all anyway.
And guys like Romney who say, hey let’s give it to them anyway. And that’s basically where we’re at. If they get 10 Republicans, they can get it through the filibuster. If they get nine Republicans, then it fails.
Leahy: Are they going to get 10?
Carmichael: Nothing of any true substance will pass when we get around to the fall it’ll be a continuing resolution?
McCabe: They will pass the reconciliation bill and they will cram as much into it as the Senate parliamentarian will allow. But it won’t have all of the Christmas ornaments, like $15 minimum wage, statehood for Puerto Rico, Green New Deal, and stuff like that are just not going to be a part of it. And then Republicans just have to take their lumps.
Carmichael: What about a large tax? Will there be a large tax increase that 50 Democrats will sign on to?
McCabe: You can increase some taxes. But in the past, the parliamentarian has said that you can’t disguise a tax bill as reconciliation, which is what happened with the 2017 bill, which is why the 2017 bill was, relatively speaking, revenue-neutral.
President Trump proclaimed the largest tax cut in history, but that’s a function of inflation. It was somewhere around the eighth or 10th largest tax cut in history. It was really just reshuffling the lawn chairs.
Carmichael: So let me try to be more specific. Will raising the capital gains tax to ordinary income, will that pass?
McCabe: They can get something through.
Carmichael: I’m asking, well, 50 Democrats sign on to a large increase in the capital gains tax?
McCabe: Yes. But it all depends on how the Congressional Budget Office scores the actual proposal. And then the parliamentarian has to decide if that is too big. The parliamentarians in the past said you cannot make you cannot make extreme changes in the tax bill and disguise it or cloak it with the budget reconciliation process.
You can trim these rates. You could raise these rates, but will they change the deductibility of state and local taxes? No, that’s dead in the water. Will they change the estate tax or the death tax? Probably not.
That’s probably dead in the water. Capital gains? There’s not a big constituency for what capital gains should be higher or lower. I mean, there is Wall Street. But most Americans don’t really get upset. They don’t march in the streets over capital gains.
Carmichael: I was just trying to figure out whether or not all 50 Democrats I’m not even talking about reconciliation, I’m just talking about Republicans will not vote to increase the capital gains tax to 40 percent.
No Republican will do that. And I would be personally very surprised if all 50 Democrats would agree to do that, setting aside the question of reconciliation and just whether or not they could. Because that is a massive increase in the capital gains tax.
McCabe: There’s no problem there. There’s no anti-tax Senate Democrat that is not going join Schumer on this. Right now their slim majority is such that they’re exhibiting tremendous party discipline, and no one is going to cross Chuck Schumer.
Leahy: Last question for you. What is the buzz in Washington, D.C. about the declining cognitive skills of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Joe Biden.
McCabe: Well, the commander chief was whispering again and that’s got people really scratching their heads because he’s acting like he’s starting to act like a weirdo. And and I think you should also consider the screw-ups going on in the New York Democratic Mayor primary with the 135 bogus ballots that were put through.
That is actually having a material effect on people thinking in Washington and across the country. It’s validating things that President Trump has been saying about the way the 2020 election was handled.
Leahy: Yeah, I think we’re going to have to come up with a new nickname for the current occupant. Whispering Joe. What do you think? (Laughter) Neil McCabe, the greatest Washington correspondent of any news network out there. Thanks so much for joining us today.
McCabe: Alright, be good guys.
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