GOP Ready To Pass Tax 'Cut' Bill Despite LITERALLY NOT KNOWING WHAT'S ACTUALLY IN IT
Everything's coming up tax cuts!
After a brief delay last night when a number of Senate Republicans said they weren't so sure increasing the national debt by a trillion-plus dollars for the sake of giving corporations and the already wealthy a tax cut they don't need (remember how Trump keeps touting the terrific performance of the stock market? At least until Mike Flynn was indicted and it took a tumble? ), some additional deal-making has been accomplished, and it appears the Senate GOP has the 50 votes (plus a tie-breaker by VP Mike Pence) needed to pass this horrorshow. Senate majority whip John Cornyn says there are definitely 50 votes, after wavering senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Steve Daines came back to the dark side thanks to the promise of a bigger tax break for "pass-through income," which is primarily used by the already wealthy to avoid being taxed at the higher rates that would be applied to wage income. Hooray -- more money for Donald Trump!
As of right now, it appears the two remaining R holdouts are Arizona's Jeff Flake and Tennessee's Bob Corker, who are now getting a lot of abuse from fellow Republicans for holding to the supposed Republican principle of opposing deficit spending. [HAHA NOPE! Flake's already succumbed just in the time Dok took typing this.] Among Senators slagging the two for failing to remember that deficits only matter when there's a Democratic president are Ted Cruz, who said of Corker, "Fifty-one senators want to cut taxes. One is trying to raise taxes. That’s not right." And then there's Principled Fiscal Conservative Pat Roberts of Kansas, who dismissed Corker for grandstanding on deficits when REAL Republicans want to reward their donors and get the big reelection bucks:
Maine's Susan Collins has apparently not yet committed to the bill either, telling the New York Times, "I don’t know how Senator Cornyn can speak for me, I speak for myself," but then again, Collins has also been saying she believed Mitch McConnell's promise that there's no way the bill could lead to Medicare cuts, so don't go expecting too much principle from her this time around. She may have used up her last supply of scruples over the summer when she voted against Obamacare repeal. This time around, even though the tax bill's elimination of the individual mandate for health insurance will leave 13 million more Americans without insurance, she seems to think that's cool, because they'll be CHOOSING not to afford insurance, you see. Collins told the Wall Street Journal she hadn't yet made a decision, but "We’re making very good progress,” so our money is on Collins going for the big donor money, not the people of Maine.
Bloomberg reports that Rs may have added an amendment that would preserve deductions for state and local taxes up to $10,000, a deduction kept in the House version of the tax bill but eliminated in the Senate bill. The move appears to be aimed at winning over Collins, who has said her two sticking points were Medicare cuts and the state and local tax deductions. She may have gotten exactly the cover she needs to vote for this hot mess.
The Rs are still working out the details -- and no, there's not a final text of the bill yet, what are you, a document Nazi? -- but the Rs still expect a vote today regardless . An attempt to include a "trigger" in the bill that would have increased taxes if budget deficits grew too big -- something Corker and Flake liked -- was shot down by the Senate parliamentarian as not allowed under the rules for passing the tax bill through the reconciliation process, which prevents the bill being filibustered by Democrats. As a possible replacement for such a trigger, Rs had floated the idea of tweaking the bill to include some $350 billion in additional revenue, either through a scheduled uptick in corporate tax rates or other number-fumbling, but ultimately the negotiations decided there was no need to cover future deficits, because come on, the donors need to be fed. Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said he's kind of worried about deficits but will vote for the bill anyway, a true profile in courage.
As Vox's Matt Yglesias observed a short time ago, "They have the votes and now all they need is a bill." That's not just some smartass journo talking -- smartass California Senator Kamala Harris says much the same thing:
Secret legislation being passed without any hearings or real debate -- welcome once again to Third-World America! We'll update you all day as this shitshow unfolds.