Now that the both houses of Congress have passed a substantial tax cut package for American families and businesses, the Trump presidency can claim its first big legislative win. But what comes next?
White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn was asked about the future in an interview with Axios Wednesday morning, and his prediction for 2018 involves a lot of government spending.
In the very short term, Cohn said Congress would pass a continuing resolution to keep government spending at current levels through Friday’s deadline. If Congress fails to pass a funding bill by Friday, Dec. 22, the government will shut down.
Cohn expressed confidence that the spending bill would pass.
“We’re gonna get a CR in the next two days and Congress is gonna be on their way home by the weekend,” Cohn said. “We’ll probably end up with a two-week CR. We’ll get the spending into next year at current levels and we’ll deal with caps and we’ll deal with all the spending issues, military issues, and all of the other issues at the beginning of next year.”
That’s a tall order for a Congress that can’t seem to agree on how much it should spend. House Republicans were forced to scrap their spending bill after conservatives objected to an $81 billion disaster aid package that was not offset by any spending cuts. Other Republicans wanted to see an increase in defense spending that would’ve been “dead on arrival” in the Senate because of Democratic filibuster threats, according to The Hill.
The new plan is another temporary spending bill.
“It’s still in flux a bit, but it looks like we’ll do a more-or-less clean CR till the 19th of January,” Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Texas, said Wednesday. “There will be a separate vote on the disaster supplemental.”
While Congressional Republicans scramble to put a spending bill together with Friday’s deadline looming, the president is looking forward to 2018.
Come January 3, the White House will be off to the races with a meeting to discuss infrastructure. Cohn insisted that the administration has $200 billion, “which we have a way to leverage well over $1 trillion,” for an infrastructure bill. Cohn also said that cutting regulations and shortening the approval process for infrastructure projects would be “the biggest single thing we can do for infrastructure in this country,” claiming that there are some infrastructure projects from the 1920s that the government has yet to approve.
Cohn said that once the federal government begins approving local infrastructure projects, local and state governments would be able to fund these projects with money they’ve already budgeted for infrastructure. He opposed creating an infrastructure bank.
“An infrastructure bank is not the most efficient way for us to get the infrastructure built quickly,” Cohn said. He added that there’s a need to focus on building infrastructure with an eye toward the future.
“If you go down 70 feet and tunnel, no one knows you’re there. You disturb nothing. You can go straight line from point A to point B,” Cohn said. “You can put high-speed, mega high-speed rail in tunneling and you can do it unbelievably efficiently,” he added, suggesting the private sector could foot the bill if the federal government delivers the approval.
Cohn said entitlement reform is also on top of the president’s agenda, but listed several other priorities that Congress will need to tackle next year as well. Among the big bills Cohn listed are banking reform, the Financial Choice Act from Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and the farm spending bill.
“There’s an awful lot that has to be done,” Cohn said.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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