The Tax Bill: Bad Process, Bad Policy

The recent debate over the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act shone a light on serious problems with our legislative process. Passed under a special fast-track budget reconciliation process, the bill openly broke with standard procedures, which were designed to force a deliberative, inclusive, and bipartisan process on critical fiscal policy matters. The voices of experts and affected communities were ignored; members of Congress held no hearings and conducted the vast majority of the negotiations behind closed doors, and then rushed bills to the floor before their constituents could fully understand what was in them. Nonpartisan congressional scorekeepers were equally ignored, as the rushed process also left no time to adequately consider the results of analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation and Congressional Budget Office. Worse yet, when the results of such analysis were politically problematic, they were disparaged by members. Members even openly discussed the importance of passing legislation that would please their donors, rather than benefit their constituents. Finally, the legislation itself was filled with gimmicks and tricks to game the scoring process and obscure its true effects. The result: a corrupt bill that was widely disliked.

This problem is bigger than just the tax bill—it revealed deeper, longstanding issues that plague Congress. Please join the Center for American Progress as we discuss the issues revealed by the passage of the tax bill, and ways to address the pernicious problems that are undermining the effectiveness, transparency, and fairness of our legislative process.

Opening remarks:
Jacob Leibenluft, Executive Vice President for Policy, Center for American Progress

Distinguished panelists:
Bruce Bartlett, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy, U.S. Treasury Department (1989-1993)
Lily Batchelder, Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law, New York University
Will Roberts, Legislative Director, Rep. Jamie Raskin, US. House of Representatives
Martin A. Sullivan, Chief Economist and Contributing Editor, Tax Analysts

Alexandra Thornton, Senior Director, Tax Policy, Center for American Progress


Center For American Progress, 1333 H Street Northwest, Washington, DC, USA

Transit instructions

Metro: Orange/Blue/Silver lines to McPherson Square; Red line to Metro Center

Additional information

A light lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m.


Closed-captioned-enabled video will be posted following the conclusion of the event.
If you require ADA-related accommodations for your in-person attendance at this event, please email as soon as possible so that we may assist you.