Merry Christmas America! I hope you asked Santa for a tax bill that disproportionately benefits the wealthy and adds more than a trillion dollars to the deficit, because that’s what’s going to be under your tree this year.
“Senate Republicans have rushed a bill that no one is proud of and includes a flurry of last-minute changes that will put more money in the wallets of the wealthy at the expense of the middle class,” Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor, prior to a marathon debate.
The wrangling on this literally went on all night long, and here is the progression via bullet points:
- 9:28: SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER SCHUMER SAYS TAX VOTE IN `SHORT TIME’
- 9:29: SCHUMER CONCEDES REPUBLICANS PROBABLY HAVE VOTES FOR TAX BILL
- 10:08: SENATE BEGINS CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS TO GOP TAX BILL
- 12:07: PENCE BREAKS TIE ON CRUZ TAX AMENDMENT RELATED TO EDUCATION
- 1:38: U.S. SENATE VOTING ON FINAL PASSAGE OF TAX BILL
1:47: SENATE HAS VOTES TO PASS GOP-BACKED TAX BILL, VOTE ONGOING
- 1:50 SENATE REPUBLICANS PASS BILL TO OVERHAUL U.S. TAX CODE
- Vote: 51-49
Ahhh yes, legislative efficiency on full display as lawmakers hunker down and stay up until 2 in the morning to vote on a bill they only end up passing by the slimmest of margins. Bob Corker was the only GOP dissenting voice.
A couple of things to note here. First, all of the revisions apparently added some $32.5 billion to the 10-year cost of this thing, meaning that the revised bill would add $1.45 trillion to federal deficit over a decade according to the CBO.
Second, this isn’t over yet. Now, discussions will begin to reconcile the Senate version with the House version. The House and the Senate version would both lower the corporate tax rate to 20%, but the Senate version calls for a delay on that (2019). Additionally, under the Senate version, individual tax cuts will end in 2026. Both the House and the Senate bills would end individual deductions for state and local taxes with the sole exception of property taxes which would be capped at $10,000.
Here’s what Schumer had to say during the debate:
At a time of immense inequality, the Republican tax bill makes life easier on the well-off and eventually makes life more difficult on working Americans, exacerbating one of the most pressing problems we face as a nation — the yawning gap between the rich and everyone else.
Additionally, you’re reminded that the Senate has just effectively repealed the Obamacare individual mandate, a move which is expected to ultimately drive up the number of uninsured by some 13 million and push up premiums by 10%. Here’s The Hill with more on that:
While three Republican senators, John McCain (R-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) defeated an ObamaCare repeal bill over the summer that included mandate repeal, this time they put aside their concerns.
Murkowski wrote that repealing the mandate didn’t hurt the structure of the health law, but allowed people the “freedom” to choose whether to enroll in the healthcare law,..
Collins said she had won a commitment from Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to pass two bipartisan ObamaCare fixes before the end of the year. She hopes those bills will counteract the increase in premiums from mandate repeal.
One of the bills, from Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray(D-Wash.) funds key payments to insurers, while the other measure provides funding known as reinsurance to pay for some sick people’s claims and help bring down premiums.
The Alexander-Murray bill does not directly deal with the effects of repealing the mandate, and some experts argue there would have to be more reinsurance funding than currently proposed to make up for mandate repeal.
It’s unclear if either fix will actually become law, as House conservatives oppose the measures as propping up ObamaCare.
What could go wrong?
Further, it’s worth noting that Marco Rubio and Mike Lee tried to win an expansion of the child tax credit but that was doomed because they wanted to pay for it by raising the corporate rate from the planned 20% to 20.9%. That amendment was handily defeated.
“We could have done so much more for workers if we had passed our plan to expand Child Tax Credit to help workers and families,” Rubio lamented. Remember Marco, this isn’t about workers and families. It’s about corporations and rich people.
Schumer also noted that “not a single member of this chamber has read the bill,” to which McConnell responded: “You complain about process when you’re losing.”
That’s a fair point from Mitch, but it doesn’t change the fact that no one – not Republicans, not Democrats, not any group of lawmakers anywhere, ever – should be passing legislation without fucking reading it. Can we all agree on that? Ok, great.
Speaking of people who haven’t read the bill:
Biggest Tax Bill and Tax Cuts in history just passed in the Senate. Now these great Republicans will be going for final passage. Thank you to House and Senate Republicans for your hard work and commitment!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017
So stay tuned for more of this farcical back and forth, starting on Monday when House and Senate Republicans will see if they can get on the same page in conference for long enough to get this thing to Trump’s desk.