U.S. President Donald Trump pushed Thursday for adoption of a wide-ranging overhaul of the country’s complex tax laws as he met with the majority Republican caucus in the House of Representatives shortly before a scheduled vote on the issue.
Republican leaders in the House have voiced optimism that they have enough votes to approve the changes that would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent, one of the higher rates in the world, to 20 percent and cut taxes for millions of middle-class taxpayers, but not everyone. The measure would add $1.5 trillion to the country’s long-term $20 trillion in debt.
Trump, without a major legislative victory in his first 10 months in office, has been urging Congress to adopt a tax overhaul by Christmas; but, the changes are controversial and no Democratic lawmakers have announced their support.
Republican leaders in the Senate are advancing their own tax plan, but its fate is uncertain, with Republicans only holding a 52-48 majority. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin on Wednesday became the first Republican senator to announce his opposition to both the Senate and House versions of the changes because he said they do not cut taxes enough to help small businesses.
Democrats have opposed the Republican tax-cutting effort, which they say greatly benefits the country’s wealthiest taxpayers, without enough help for people who earn way less money. Virtually every U.S. taxpayer would be affected by the changes being considered, but the overhaul is in such a state of flux in Congress that individuals have been hard-pressed to determine whether they would get a tax cut or not.
Trump said on his Twitter account, “Tax cuts are getting close!”
But he disparaged opposition Democratic lawmakers for their lack of support, saying, “Why are Democrats fighting massive tax cuts for the middle class and business (jobs)? The reason: Obstruction and Delay!”
A key House Republican leader, Congressman Kevin Brady, said the House plan “represents a bold path forward that will allow us as a nation to break out of the slow-growth status quo once and for all.”
Trump, however, has complicated his push for tax reform by asking that Congress include a provision that would end the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine if they do not. Congress already failed earlier this year to overhaul national health care policies championed by former President Barack Obama, a law commonly known as Obamacare.
Democratic lawmakers, and some Republicans, are opposed to attaching the health law change on buying insurance in the tax legislation, which if it is kept in the tax proposal, could imperil its passage, especially in the Senate.
While he was on his five-nation Asia trip, Trump tweeted, “I am proud of the (Republican) House & Senate for working so hard on cutting taxes (& reform.) We’re getting close! Now, how about ending the unfair & highly unpopular (individual) Mandate in OCare & reducing taxes even further?”