Cramer: Who Wants Tax Reform Less -- The White House or Congress?

 | Sep 25, 2017 | 6:59 AM EDT
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Who wants tax reform less -- The White House or Congress? Right now, the Senate is engaged in what seems to be a futile action AGAIN to repeal and replace Obamacare. It is amazing that this iteration, Graham-Cassidy, seems even less thought out that the previous versions.

Meanwhile, our Sports Radio in Chief Donald Trump seems to be spending more time seeing who is kneeling and who isn't, even as he tweeted last night that Alaska, Arizona, Maine and Kentucky would be winners in a new funding re-authorization, something that may have occurred to the rejectionist Senators from those states, but will most likely not budge a soul.

But think back to the statements of the President's economic team going into September. They actually expected to get something down this month, something substantive, on tax reform.

Yet the President still seems to have not figured out exactly what rates he wants or what would possibly pass. They might as well be working from two different countries to solve the tax issue, even as it is incredibly clear that Congress cannot possibly tackle two things at once. The September tax dream is a pipe dream.

It's almost laughable that the Big Six can get anything done in such a short period of time. The personalities alone should make it a non-starter. The notion of Paul Ryan, Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell, Kevin Brady, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn agreeing on anything seems fanciful, let alone a series of tax rates, seems downright fanciful.

Think about it like this: Tax reform was always some sort of weird backstage act under President Obama, with the Democrats calling for comprehensive tax reform including both individual and corporate changes. You knew it was doomed because it was meant to be doomed. As long as Obama held to a position where no Republicans and a few Democrats didn't agree, it was a non-starter.

Now we have a similar situation where no Democrats and a few Republicans don't agree, so that is enough to doom reform.

More important, though, is the fact that Congress won't let Repeal and Replace go, even as Michael Neidorff, the CEO of Centene -- the company most involved in providing health care under Medicare and Medicaid for many Americans -- says this Graham-Cassidy version isn't thought out and has little chance to pass. If you wanted to distill Neidorff's comments on Mad Money, they would be something like trying to get a major overhaul done when nobody even understands the overhaul.

Now I think any commonsensical person would have to admit that Congress AND the President have to be focused on tax reform to accomplish something -- even as tax reform means cutting taxes, which is a lot easier than fixing health care. But the President's tweets and speeches these last few days were much more about the National Anthem, the NFL and the ratings for football games.

It's a totally captivating topic. I think it is ironic and also symbolic that tonight CNN will host a debate on health care exactly at the time when the Cardinals play the Cowboys and many more people will be focused on who kneels, who leaves the locker room and who gets fined or criticized by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones -- who is already on record saying that the players should not be using the singing of the National Anthem to make a statement about politics. Will Jones be the owner who sticks with the President and actually kicks out a player? Jones is the owner most likely to say "you're fired" and "get that son of a bitch off the field right now" to players who "disrespect our flag," the call to action the President launched in Alabama last week.

What Jones does will be more important than what the Republican Senators objecting to Graham-Cassidy will do. And where does that leave tax reform on the agenda?

So, September finishes and nothing of substance has been done with tax reform or health care. It's the ultimate do-nothing Congress, seemingly because it wants to be, and it's the ultimate do-nothing White House, because it can't be anything else as long as Twitter is the most-important method of communication and the President's all-consuming focus on sports talk radio remains front and center.

In the end, it's all self-defeating for the President. The only thing that could spike NFL's numbers this year? Who will obey the President, especially now that presidential friend and powerful Patriots owner, Bob Kraft, broke with Trump this weekend. Or in the parlance of Wall Street, take a "nothing done" on health care, at least for the critical month of September.

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