Tax bill to get Trump push

‘Cut health man­date, top tax bracket’

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON, Nov 14, (Agen­cies): As Repub­li­cans stake their claim to mid­dle-class res­cue in tax cut leg­is­la­tion deemed to carry tax hikes for mil­lions, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump plans an in­per­son ap­peal to law­mak­ers as the pro­posal faces a cru­cial vote in the House.

Un­der­scor­ing the sharp po­lit­i­cal stakes for Trump, who lacks a ma­jor leg­isla­tive achieve­ment af­ter nearly 10 months in of­fice, Trump will meet with House Repub­li­cans on Thurs­day ahead of an ex­pected vote on the tax over­haul leg­is­la­tion.

Pro­moted as needed re­lief for the mid­dle class, the House and Se­nate bills would deeply cut cor­po­rate taxes, dou­ble the stan­dard de­duc­tion used by most Amer­i­cans, and limit or re­peal com­pletely the fed­eral de­duc­tion for state and lo­cal prop­erty, in­come and sales taxes. Repub­li­can lead­ers in Congress view pas­sage of the first ma­jor tax re­vamp in 30 years as im­per­a­tive for the GOP to pre­serve its ma­jori­ties in next year’s elec­tions.

Trump’s planned pitch on Capi­tol Hill, af­ter re­turn­ing from his Asia trip, was dis­closed by a White House of­fi­cial who wasn’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss pub­licly the pres­i­dent’s sched­ule and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity. In the mean­time, Trump tweeted into the de­bate Mon­day by urg­ing Repub­li­can lead­ers to get more ag­gres­sive in the tax leg­is­la­tion. He called for a steeper tax cut for wealthy Amer­i­cans and the ad­di­tion of a con­tentious health care change to the al­ready com­plex mix.

At the same time, a non­par­ti­san anal­y­sis of the Se­nate ver­sion of the tax over­haul leg­is­la­tion showed it ac­tu­ally would in­crease taxes for some 13.8 mil­lion mod­er­ate-in­come Amer­i­can house­holds.

The as­sess­ment by Congress’ Joint Com­mit­tee on Tax­a­tion emerged as the Se­nate’s tax-writ­ing com­mit­tee be­gan de­bat­ing and work­ing through the mea­sure.

Trump’s lat­est tweet in­jected a dose of un­cer­tainty into the process as the Repub­li­cans try to de­liver on his top leg­isla­tive pri­or­ity. He com­mended GOP lead­ers for get­ting the tax leg­is­la­tion closer to pas­sage in re­cent weeks and then said, “Cut top rate to 35% w/all of the rest go­ing to mid­dle in­come cuts?”

That puts him at odds with the House leg­is­la­tion that leaves the top rate at the cur­rent 39.6 per­cent and the Se­nate bill, with the top rate eased to 38.5 per­cent.

Trump prod­ded the law­mak­ers: “Now how about end­ing the un­fair & highly un­pop­u­lar in­di­vid­ual man­date in (Obama)care and re­duc­ing taxes even fur­ther?”

With few votes to spare, Repub­li­can lead­ers hope to fi­nal­ize a tax over­haul by Christ­mas and send the leg­is­la­tion to Trump for his sig­na­ture.

The key House leader on the ef­fort, Rep Kevin Brady, said he’s “very con­fi­dent” that Repub­li­cans “do and will have the votes to pass” the mea­sure this week.

Changes

Brady, chair­man of the House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, said he doesn’t ex­pect ma­jor changes to the bill as it moves to a fi­nal vote in the House. Still, he said Trump’s call for re­mov­ing the re­quire­ment to have health in­sur­ance as part of the tax agree­ment “re­mains un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.”

Trump and the Repub­li­cans have pro­moted the leg­is­la­tion as a boon to the mid­dle class, bring­ing tax re­lief to peo­ple with mod­er­ate in­comes and boost­ing the econ­omy to cre­ate new jobs.

“This bill is not a mas­sive tax cut for the wealthy . ... This is not a big give­away to cor­po­ra­tions,” Sen Or­rin Hatch, chair­man of the Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee, in­sisted as the panel had its first day of de­bate on the Se­nate mea­sure.

The over­haul will bring “much-needed tax re­lief to Amer­i­can work­ers and fam­i­lies,” the Utah Repub­li­can said.

Hatch down­played the anal­y­sis by con­gres­sional ex­perts show­ing tax in­creases in 2019 for 13.8 mil­lion house­holds earn­ing less than $200,000 a year. That group, about 10 per­cent of all US tax­pay­ers, would face tax in­creases of $100 to $500, and there would be big­ger in­creases for some, es­pe­cially those earn­ing be­tween $75,000 and $200,000.

Hatch said “a rel­a­tively small mi­nor­ity of tax­pay­ers could see a slight in­crease in their taxes.”

Mean­while, Trump urged law­mak­ers on Mon­day to slash the top tax rate paid by the wealthy and end the Oba­macare in­di­vid­ual health­care man­date, even as he praised their work so far on tax re­form in the Repub­li­can­con­trolled Congress.

Mem­bers of the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Se­nate were de­bat­ing their re­spec­tive plans this week be­fore head­ing home for the US Thanks­giv­ing Day hol­i­day.

Repub­li­cans are aim­ing to achieve a sig­nif­i­cant over­haul of the US tax code and hand Trump his first ma­jor leg­isla­tive vic­tory. The two cham­bers hope to re­solve their dif­fer­ences in time to en­act the leg­is­la­tion by the end of the year.

“I am proud of the Rep House & Se­nate for work­ing so hard on cut­ting taxes {& re­form.} We’re get­ting close!” Trump wrote in a Twit­ter post.

Trump has re­peat­edly pushed for the tax re­form bill to in­clude a re­peal of the Af­ford­able Care Act man­date that all Amer­i­cans pur­chase health in­sur­ance or else pay a fine. Nei­ther House nor Se­nate pro­pos­als in­clude such a pro­vi­sion.

“Now, how about end­ing the un­fair & highly un­pop­u­lar In­div Man­date in OCare & re­duc­ing taxes even fur­ther? Cut top rate to 35% w/all of the rest go­ing to mid­dle in­come cuts?” he added.

Repub­li­can tax plans in the House and Se­nate would each add about $1.5 tril­lion to the fed­eral deficit over the next decade, but law­mak­ers will have to iron out dif­fer­ences in­clud­ing the treat­ment of the de­duc­tion for state and lo­cal taxes, when to start a cut in the cor­po­rate tax rate and whether to scrap the es­tate tax on in­her­i­tances.

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