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Will the Republicans Get Tax Reform?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

WASHINGTON -- It has long been my conviction that Democrats are the more adept pols, the most tireless pols, the most political pols. I have said that their political libido is that of a nymphomaniac. By that I mean to compliment them, or at least to compliment their political skills. The political libido of the Republicans is by comparison the political libido of a Victorian lady, complete with white gloves and parasol.


We saw the Republicans' coyness about playing politics just last week when they began backing away from supporting Roy Moore, the leading candidate for the Alabama Senate seat left vacant when Jeff Sessions became attorney general. Though Moore has never been charged with sexual misconduct in over 40 years of public life, suddenly, four and a half weeks before the special election scheduled for Dec. 12, a 53-year-old woman steps out of oblivion to accuse Moore of having had some sort of sexual encounter with her 38 years ago, when she was 14 and he was in his early 30s -- by comparison, William Jefferson Clinton was 49 years old, and Monica Lewinsky was a nubile 22. Moore denies it, and he denies the charges of four other recovering female amnesiacs, some with mysterious Democratic ties.

What is Moore to do as his fellow Republicans in Washington, D.C., start melting away? Do you recall the story about a famous Democrat of long ago who in the late stages of an election threatened to charge his opponent with having had sex with a barnyard animal? The famous Democrat's aides were appalled and objected strenuously, but the candidate only shrugged.

As I say, Democrats play the great game of politics much better than Republicans. You can count the number of Democrats who have weathered sexual harassment allegations and won their subsequent election in the hundreds, beginning with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. I say Moore should continue his campaign. The Senate is too important for the Republicans to lose. If the Republicans roosting up in Washington do not realize this, I am sure the Republicans in Alabama realize it.


While they are comfortably counseling Moore and his allies from afar, I hope they will not forget that their most important duty is to pass a tax-reform bill. The House has one bill that is ensuring economic growth and middle-class tax relief. The Senate has another that achieves the same goal, though it is different. They promise to reconcile the bills by year's end. It is very important that they do.

Larry Kudlow, a supply-side economist, spoke last week at the Senate Republican breakfast and reported optimistically on his experience. He later wrote: "What I observed was a total commitment among the GOP senators to get a tax bill by year-end. This will not be another health-care breakdown." There will be a cut in the business tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, which will create jobs and middle-class wealth. He did write with some urgency, though, because without tax cuts and concomitant economic growth, the scenario is bleak. "If Republicans don't get it, they'll lose control of Congress" in 2018, he said, and with that comes increased gridlock, no possible health care reform and even a specter of impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

The Republicans have been bellowing for years that they would repeal and replace Obamacare. They are unlikely to do it. They have promised other changes in the way the government works, but at this point, all that seems unlikely, too. They simply have to reconcile and pass tax reform, or they will have nothing to show for their domination of government of late. Coming up empty-handed in 2018 will not be Trump's doing. It will be the Republicans' fault, and relinquishing a seat in the Alabama senatorial delegation is not going to make tax reform any easier.


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