By Sahil Kapur
(Bloomberg) A Republican senator is building support to change budget rules in order to make temporary tax cuts last for two decades or more, but he has yet to convince a critical figure—House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Ryan says he wants permanent tax cuts, a goal he repeated this week in response to questions about Senator Pat Toomey's proposal to relax time limits on any cuts that would increase the federal deficit. Beyond Ryan's skepticism, Toomey's proposal carries procedural challenges and political risks for the GOP, according to budget experts.
The change would at least double the time frame allowed for enacting tax cuts that add to the deficit—marking a sea change for budget rules and making it easier for the GOP to enact lower rates without any support from Democrats. Republicans control only 52 of the Senate's 100 seats, and they want to pass a tax bill under a process called reconciliation that allows for a simple-majority vote. Currently, reconciliation rules require that any changes that would add to the deficit outside a 10-year window must be set to expire.
Toomey's proposal to extend the time horizon to 20 or 30 years has gained the support of influential Republicans including Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, as well as anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and conservative groups such as the Club For Growth.
“I'm talking to my colleagues all the time about it, including recently more and more House members who, once you walk people through it, they get the logic of this,” Toomey said to reporters Thursday. “The alternative is really weak tax reform.”