It took nearly all of 2017, but the Republican-controlled Congress gifted President Trump his first major legislative victory in December with the most comprehensive overhaul of the American tax code in 30 years.
However, in a party-line vote, The Tax Cuts & Job Act (TCJA), a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax bill, was drafted and passed with near-unprecedented speed. Democrats, who received a final version containing crossed-out pages and scribbled marginalia, criticized the cloak-and-dagger negotiations. Core components of the legislation were still being honed hours before the bill’s passage, as Republicans scrambled to secure votes right up to the last minute.
When the dust settled, it was Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), who stood front and center, widely smiling, gavel in hand. It was an incredible personal victory for the Wisconsin senator who had long been the public face and driving force of this legislation.
“This is one of the most important pieces of legislation that Congress has passed in decades to help the American worker and to help grow the American economy,” Ryan said after the vote. “This is profound change, and this is change that is going to put our country on the right path.”
As the political lovefest moved outside to the White House Rose Garden and praise was heaped upon President Trump, it was still Paul Ryan who remained the most triumphant.
“Something this big, something this generational, something this profound, could not have been done without exquisite presidential leadership,” Ryan fawned, still brimming with jubilant excitement, soaking up a moment that had defined his political aspirations since the moment he ran for the House in 1998.
For President Trump, the tax legislation provides much-needed political capital. It’s a rare and sizeable victory for a sputtering administration that promised “so much winning,” that the American populace would tire of the concept of success. The legislation also provides major relief in several areas near and dear to conservative hearts.
Corporate taxes received a deep and permanent slash, down to 21 percent from 35 percent. The alternative income tax was eliminated. The estate tax was reformed. A one-time repatriation tax will bring back trillions of off-shore dollars to American soil. Private individuals will also see takes breaks, though these will fade over time until expiring completely in 2027.
For Ryan, however, tax reform isn’t simply a political victory. As an ideologue of the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, this legislation is the culmination of a personal crusade. In the vein of Randian tenets, Ryan believes that the way you empower an individual and build a healthy society is by shrinking the government as much as possible.