GOP Senate Tax Plan in Serious Trouble – More Senators Come Out Against It
Congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump celebrated the passage of the GOP tax plan out of the House and the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday but the bill appears to be in deep trouble in the U.S. Senate as more GOP Senators come out against it.
Five Republicans, three more than is needed to force a major rewrite of the tax plan or to kill it outright have gone on record as opposed to the current version of the bill.
To make things tougher for Senate GOP leadership, the opposing senators have issues with different aspects of the tax plan, meaning that fixing a part to satisfy one senator is likely to create more issues for other senators.
“If this was a Democratic bill we wouldn’t even be voting for it. That’s how hypocritical this place has become.”
Experts say trying to meet the demands of each objecting senator could mean walking away from the GOP priority of a permanent 20 percent corporate tax rate. To make matters worse, the GOP leadership is aware they are facing the likelihood of a smaller majority after the Dec. 12 Alabama special election should scandal-ridden Roy Moore lose.
Following major revisions to various aspects of the tax plan to satisfy concerns expressed by GOP senators on Tuesday, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Marco Rubio of Florida harshly criticized the bill.
Latest criticism came from Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona who said the tax bill is loaded with temporary gimmicks that will eventually add to the deficit should it become law.
“I’ve been concerned for a long time on our debt and deficit — that’s what animates me,” Flake said. “There are a couple other people who are concerned as well. We can do tax reform in ways that will grow the economy but we can’t just ignore the debt and deficit.”
On Wednesday Sen. Johnson indicated he would vote against the tax bill saying it is loaded with goodies for large corporations at the expense of small businesses. It is worth noting that Sen. Johnson objected to the earlier GOP bill repealing ObamaCare before changing his mind and voting for it.
Sen. Collins of Maine said Thursday she has issues with the bill’s provision repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said Friday morning she is against repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate, saying she will only vote for the tax plan if the Senate first passes a bipartisan bill to stabilize the insurance exchanges.
Sen. Jeff Flake is concerned about the provision in the tax plan known as “full expensing” that allows businesses to write off their assets while paying their taxes, thus costing the U.S. Treasury billions of dollars in revenue. The GOP tax plan sunsets that provision by 2024 but the Arizona Republican Senator said he is not convinced that will happen.
“Right now, in order to fit that in the budget window to keep us in reconciliation, we phase that out after five years. Nobody thinks it will be phased out after five years,” he said. “That’s the problem here. You phase it out after five years, it fits in this, but we know after five years they’re just going to do it again.”
Besides slashing corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, the GOP tax bill curtails or ends state and local tax (SALT) deductions and under the Senate bill, eliminates ObamaCare’s individual mandate. An analysis by congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation said taxes for American families earning less than $75,000 would rise by 2027 under the GOP tax plan.
President Trump appeared ebullient when he met with congressional Republican caucus this week – those present at the meeting said he seemed confident the Senate would find a way to pass the legislation.
“He had confidence that the Senate would be able to reach an agreement,” said someone who was in the room during the meeting. “There was a lot of laughter — the President was in a very jovial mood.”
A few Republican Senators agreed with Trump that whatever issues remained can be dealt with without much trouble.
“I think we can address those concerns,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said. “And the deficit impact? Cutting taxes is not going to add the deficit in any appreciable way. You’re never going to convince me for deficit reasons not to cut taxes. If there’s a gimmick, fix the gimmick.”
But Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina isn’t one of them. He said the GOP tax plan is hypocritical and unfair to America’s children and grandchildren.
“If this is going to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next ten years, it’s not fair to our children and grandchildren,” Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina said. “If this was a Democratic bill we wouldn’t even be voting for it. That’s how hypocritical this place has become.”
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