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According to the New York Times, the Republicans are fearful that they won’t be able to get the numbers to add up to avoid making the tax deform bill subject to the filibuster:

President Trump said on Monday that he would oppose any effort to reduce the amount of pretax income that American workers can save in 401(k) retirement accounts, effectively killing an idea that Republicans were mulling as a way to help pay for a $1.5 trillion tax cut.

The directive, issued via Twitter, underscored a growing fear among Republicans and business lobbyists that Mr. Trump’s bully-pulpit whims could undermine the party’s best chance to pass the most sweeping rewrite of the tax code in decades.

Overhauling the tax code was never going to be easy given that it requires targeting lucrative and politically popular tax breaks to mitigate the magnitude of cuts Republicans are envisioning. Lawmakers must mitigate the revenue loss from those tax cuts in order to avoid a Democratic filibuster and pass a bill along party lines.

I just confirmed (through intensive googling) my memory that in 1984 poor Winston Smith ultimately convinces himself that Big Brother is right, and 2+2=5. Provided they can round up all the Republicans to vote for whatever abomination they ultimately settle on, the Republicans will indeed declare that 2+2=5. Despite the fact that every impartial observer will tell you they’re lying, they will insist that their bill is within the guidelines necessary to avoid the filibuster and they will sweep all Democratic objections aside. They may do it simply by declaring that the revenue gains from increased economic activity will make up for revenue lost to the billionaires, even though everyone will know they are lying, or they may simply declare outright that since 2+2=5, it stands to reason that subtraction is really addition. Maybe they’ll get General Kelly to announce the new arithmetical rules, now that we know we’re not allowed to question a four star general’s lies. Fox viewers will have no trouble believing that 2+2=5. It’s hardly a challenge considering what they’ve swallowed in the past. The press, including the Times, will report that some say 2+2=4 and some say 2+2=5, and it’s not their job to take sides, but certainly the Democrats are being unreasonable in their partisan insistence that 2+2 always and everywhere equals 4.

Part of the new reality into which we have entered is the new rule that only Republicans can employ the filibuster. If we retake the Congress and Presidency in 2020 it will be interesting to see if the Democrats merely take the death of the filibuster as a fait accompli, or decide to show the world how noble they are by once again giving the Republicans carte blanche to obstruct.

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