The original tax plan put out by the Trump administration, according to outside analyses, would have given the lion share of the tax breaks to the rich (by, among other things, repealing the estate tax) and adding trillions to the debt. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) declared that Democrats would help pass a plan if it did not increase the debt, did not benefit the rich and was a bipartisan endeavor. Right now it looks like Schumer’s conditions might have a majority, but President Trump doesn’t.
Recall Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has reiterated his demand for “regular order” — although he did vote in favor of reconciliation.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said he will not add to the debt, although he did agree to a budget that might have a $1.5 trillion shortfall. “With realistic growth projections, it cannot produce a deficit,” Corker warned. “There is no way in hell I’m voting for it.” Trump’s Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, hypes the bill as producing 5 or 6 percent growth.
Then on Monday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told Bloomberg: ““I do not believe that the top rate should be lowered for individuals who are making more than $1 million a year. I don’t think there’s any need to eliminate the estate tax.” Bloomberg’s report continued:
Collins declined to say she’ll oppose a tax bill that adds to the deficit, in contrast to her colleague Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. But she said she cares about the debt and doesn’t want the tax bill to “blow a hole” in the deficit. She argued that “certain tax cuts done right will increase economic growth” and produce revenue.
“I hope very much to be able to support a tax reform package,” Collins said. “It’s very difficult — I’m not going to say I can guarantee that because I don’t know what’s going to be in it.”
It’s not clear how many others would share Collins’s aversion to debt or tax cuts for the rich but so far it seems that Democrats and at least a few Republicans share Schumer’s formula, namely bipartisan tax reform that does not open a flood of red ink and does not benefit the rich. There are differences between Collins and Democrats, to be sure. Schumer might well consider tax cuts for those, say, making $250,000 to be “tax cuts for the rich,” while Collins spoke only about taxpayers making more than $1 million.
Also recall that there was a major revolt among blue state Republicans about the possible elimination of the sales and local tax deduction as a means of making up lost revenue. That part of the Trump plan seems to have gone by the wayside as well. (“Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has decided to only partially repeal the state and local tax deduction, bending to concerns of colleagues from high-tax states,” CNN reported. “At the urging of lawmakers we are restoring an itemized property tax deduction to help taxpayers with local tax burdens.”)
Moreover, the National Association of Home Builders has joined the National Association of Realtors in opposing the GOP bill because of possible elimination or reduction in the home mortgage deduction. Other business groups like the bill in concept, but have yet to sign off on particulars — because there are not publicly known.
Keep in mind that all these objections and conditions come only from Republican members and before we’ve seen an actual bill. Republicans who think that tax reform — even apart from the scandal threatening to overwhelm the White House — will be smooth sailing or “has to pass” because it must (never a sound logical argument) are kidding themselves.