It’s as good as done: Senate passes controversial GOP tax cut plan
Consider the controversial Republican Party tax plan as good as passed:
In a vote in the early Wednesday morning hours, the Senate approved the final version of the first overhaul of the US tax code in more than 30 years, handing President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans their most significant legislative victory of 2017.
The bill passed along party lines, 51-48 with the final result announced by Vice President Mike Pence who presided over the vote. Sen. Jeff Flake, the last undeclared Republican, voted yes.
The House passed the bill earlier Tuesday, but technical changes were made to it in the Senate, and the bill will go back to the House on Wednesday for a revote, where it is expected to pass again. It will then head to the President’s desk for his signature before the Christmas holiday, making good on the Republican Party’s promise to enact tax relief by the end of the year.
At around midnight, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made his final pitch to his colleagues to vote against the tax bill. It was the same kind of impassioned speech Democrats made all evening, but Schumer looked directly at his colleagues and said that this is “some bill for the middle class,” noting the heftiest provisions will help corporations.
As the vote unfolded, Sen. Tim Scott, a key negotiator in the tax bill and someone who was tapped to lead part of the effort, went up to Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch and Hatch put his arm around them. On the floor, senators cheered when the bill was passed.
Protesters also could be heard during the final vote Wednesday morning. A group of onlookers above the Senate floor in the chamber begin yelling “kill the bill, don’t kill us” before they were escorted out by law enforcement shortly before the start of the final vote.
House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke earlier from the floor of the House in advance of their first vote and said that this was a “generational defining moment.”
The bill is now as good as passed and will be signed by President Donald Trump as soon as he gets it. But Republicans have now passed an extremely unpopular piece of legislation and many already say there are signs that the GOP in Congress will indeed go after Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. All of this together will give Democrats some good campaign issues that should help get out the Democratic (and independent) vote. The Huffington Post:
But the “win” may end up costing Republicans. This bill is far from the congressional victory Republicans had sought to run on during next year’s midterm elections: It’s deeply unpopular, with approval ratings that were already significantly under water and grew worse over the past few weeks as the legislation neared final passage.
A CNN poll in November showed 31 percent of voters viewing the tax bill favorably, with 45 percent opposing it. A poll conducted in the past week showed 33 percent supporting the bill, but 55 percent now against it.
When Senate Republicans passed their initial version of the measure just a few weeks ago, many Republicans didn’t care that the bill wasn’t popular. Republicans simply believed the lack of support was due to bad polling and voters not fully understanding the proposal.
Likewise, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters Tuesday morning that he had “no concerns whatsoever.”
“I got to say, if people are out there on TV telling mistruths, disguising the facts of this thing, that’s going to make it unpopular,” Ryan said, adding that taxpayers will be happy when they see changes in their pay next year ? both from adjustments to taxes withheld from their paychecks and higher pay from booming business conditions.
But the facts of this bill are what make it unpopular. For one, the bill repeals the individual mandate in Obamacare, which would result in higher prices for people relying on Obamacare for health insurance. And far from a “middle-class tax cut,” as Trump and other Republicans promised, the measure is truly a massive corporate tax cut ? the top rate goes down from 35 percent to 21 percent ? and a smaller tax cut for individuals in the seven individual income brackets.
Independent analysts have said wealthy taxpayers would benefit the most, in large part because they pay more taxes from the start. But households at every income level would see a tax cut next year, according to an analysis of the conference bill from the Joint Committee on Taxation, which scores tax legislation for Congress.
Starting in 2021, however, some income groups would start seeing slightly higher rates. And because the proposal sets most individual cuts to expire in eight years ? a budget gimmick to reduce the bill’s cost in a 10-year budget window ? all households earning less than $75,000 would see higher taxes in 2027 (due in large part to the bill including an unfavorable permanent change to the way tax brackets are indexed to inflation)
Never before in American history has this much money been transferred from the poor and middle class to the rich. Shame on the Republicans and on Trump. We must, as the saying goes, throw these bums out.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) December 19, 2017
I had a Republican source tell me quite plainly: @BobCorker and other Republicans don't care what Americans say. They are "cashing out." That's what this GOP tax bill is about.
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) December 20, 2017
Today is the day that Republicans ensured that they'll be voted out of office but will have lucrative soft landings and lower taxes when they leave.
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) December 20, 2017