Dear Commons Community,
Early Saturday morning, the U.S. Senate passed the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades. After months of starts and stops on tax reform, the Republicans finally came together to change much of the current tax code that will affect all Americans with the biggest benefits flowing to corporations and highest-earning Americans. As reported by the New York Times:
“Senators voted 51-49, as Republicans approved the nearly 500-page bill in the early morning hours after lawmakers received a rewritten version (slow 500-page download), which contained significant changes from the original bill that passed two Senate panels last month along party lines. The last-minute revisions prompted an outcry from Democrats, who said it was impossible — and irresponsible — for lawmakers to read and digest a significant piece of legislation in such a short period of time.
Speaking on the Senate floor ahead of the vote, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, called the Republican approach “a process and a product that no one can be proud of and everyone should be ashamed of.”
He went on to warn that changes made to the bill “under the cover of darkness” would “stuff even more money into the pockets of the wealthy and the biggest corporations while raising taxes on millions in the middle class.”
Many of the changes stemmed from a series of last-minute agreements reached to convince a handful of holdout Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, to throw their support behind the legislation. One of those Republican holdouts, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, voted against the legislation.”
The Huffington Post commented:
“…the big winners in the GOP bill that the Senate passed early Saturday morning are corporations and the wealthy. Trump himself ― a self-proclaimed billionaire ― stands to gain millions through the elimination of certain taxes (though we don’t know exactly how much because Trump won’t release his tax returns). Far from being a middle-class tax cut, the measure is a massive corporate giveaway, a bill that recycles decades of Republican ideology on trickle-down economics and trusts that executives will hand over their new gains to average-income workers.
“If my friends here want to give a tax cut to the middle class,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) asked on the Senate floor Thursday, “why don’t we give a tax cut to the middle class?” His argument had no effect.
After months of negotiations, the Senate passed the proposal, 51-49, with just one Republican ― Bob Corker of Tennessee ― joining all Democrats in opposition. Corker took issue with how much debt the bill would produce, and after the Senate parliamentarian struck down Corker’s debt-control proposal, GOP leaders invited the retiring Republican to just vote no rather than finding him an accommodation.
With the bill finally through the Senate ― the House passed its tax bill two weeks earlier ― the two chambers still have to work out their legislative differences in a conference committee before the tax rewrite becomes law. There’s a slim chance the House could adopt the Senate bill and send it to the president’s desk, but it’s more likely that negotiators will merge the two versions. Both chambers need to pass the same measure for the bill to become law.
For most Americans, the legislation is still indeed ― at least in the short term ― a tax cut. Those cuts are due in large part to Republicans approving $1.5 trillion in added debt over the next 10 years. But of that pie, the wealthy disproportionately benefit, and some households could wind up with higher tax bills. The richest 20 percent of households reap 90 percent of the benefit of the tax cuts over that time period, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
Still, in the short term, it’s difficult to say exactly whose taxes go up and whose go down. Tax burdens depend on what deductions individual filers claim, and this bill is a complicated tax code rewrite ― one that analysts say will have limited impact on the economy, will cost the nation more than a trillion dollars over the next 10 years, and will do much more for rich investors than it will the middle class.”
This will become clearer to all of us in the spring when we file our income tax returns!