Senate Passes GOP-Backed Tax Bill
The Senate passed the Republican-backed tax bill on Saturday. The bill was passed by a 51-49 vote with just one Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, voting against it because of concerns about increasing the national deficit.
The bill is projected to add over $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next ten years, the Joint Committee on Taxation reported. Even with factoring in economic growth, the estimate remains over $1 trillion, despite Republican claims — including those of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — that the bill will generate enough revenue to pay for itself.
Democrats argued that they were not given enough time to read the bill, which was 479 pages and had last-minute, handwritten edits scrawled — in some cases illegibly — in the margins.
“The @SenateGOP won’t even give Democrats the weekend to read all the lobbyist giveaways they’ve added in chicken scratch to the #GOPTaxScam they're jamming through tonight,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a tweet.
The bill also garnered sharp criticism from Democrats for catering to corporate interests at the expense of the middle class. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted, “In my long career in politics, I have not seen a more regressive piece of legislation, so devoid of a rationale, so ill-suited for the condition of the country, so removed from the reality of what the American people need.”
So what exactly is in the bill?
Though the GOP has touted the bill as a victory for the American middle class, a graphic published in the New York Times with data from the Joint Committee on Taxation shows that more middle-class families would receive a tax increase instead of a cut by 2027 — even with a break in 2019. According to the graphic, the bill would most consistently benefit the wealthy.
“In general, higher income households receive larger average tax cuts as a percentage of after-tax income, with the largest cuts as a share of income going to taxpayers in the 95th to 99th percentiles of the income distribution,” the Tax Policy Center reported.
Other effects of the bill include a doubling of the standard deduction, the elimination of personal exemptions, the quashing of state and local income tax deduction, limitations on property tax breaks, and a repeal of mandatory health insurance. The bill would also lower corporate tax rates from 35 to 25 percent — a win for business and corporations.
While private schools are expected to benefit due to tax-free school savings accounts provided by the bill, public schools could be harmed as a result of stamping out state and local income tax deduction, the Washington Post reported.
To ensure their majority, Republicans made some compromises, including one with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) by “providing ‘fair and permanent protections’” for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.
The bill also included a crushing blow to environmentalists, allowing for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. This addition was added to gain the support of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who had voted “no” on the "skinny” repeal of Obamacare in July, which resulted in a legislative failure for Republicans.
The House, which passed its tax bill in November, will need to reach an agreement with the Senate regarding a final bill. On Monday, Reuters reported that the House voted to go to conference with the Senate, moving Trump one step closer to legislative victory.