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GOP Tax Reform Passes Senate Committee

by Countable | 11.17.17

On a party-line 14-12 vote late Thursday night, the Senate Finance Committee approved the GOP tax reform bill after four days of contentious markup hearings. The bill is expected to be the subject of a vote and debate on the Senate floor when lawmakers return from recess the week after Thanksgiving, at which point it could undergo further changes.

Earlier on Thursday, the House passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which has some key differences from the legislation the Senate Finance Committee is sending to the floor in the upper chamber. Here’s a look at some of the key distinctions and similarities:

  • Seven individual income tax brackets would remain rather than the House bill's four brackets. The Senate bill would set brackets at 10%, 12% (cut from 15%), 22.5% (cut from 25%), 25% (cut from 28%), 32.5% (cut from 33%), 35%, and 38.5% (cut from 39.6%). These tax rates would remain in effect for 10 years, at which point they’d sunset and rates would return to their current levels.

  • The standard deduction would be increased to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly as in the House bill.

  • Corporate tax rates would be cut from 35 percent to 20 percent like the House bill, but it wouldn’t take effect until 2019 at which point the rates would remain at that level permanently.

  • The individual mandate to have health insurance coverage imposed by Obamacare would be repealed, reducing deficits by $338 billion over the 2018-2027 period through lower health insurance subsidy payments. The number of uninsured would be expected to rise by 4 million in 2019 and 13 million in 2027 according to the CBO.

  • The mortgage interest deduction would be capped at $1 million rather than $500,000 as in the House plan.

  • The deduction for state and local taxes would be eliminated entirely, unlike the House bill which preserved and capped the deduction for state and local property taxes while eliminating the income tax deduction.

  • The child tax credit would be increased from $1,000 to $2,000 rather than the $1,600 in the House bill. It wouldn’t be indexed to inflation.

  • The estate tax’s exemption threshold would be doubled to $10 million like in the House bill, but the estate tax (aka the death tax) wouldn’t be repealed entirely after six years. The gift and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions would also be doubled, and like the doubling of the estate tax, sunset in 2025 with the restoration current tax policy.

  • The pass-through tax rate for personal services corporations wouldn’t be reduced.

  • Makers of beer, wine, and liquor would get two years of of temporary tax relief.

What’s next?

When the bill comes to the Senate floor it will be under reconciliation rules that allow it to pass with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 vote threshold. But it’s not clear at the moment whether Republicans have the votes to pass it.

With 52 senators, the GOP can only afford to have two members oppose the bill and still pass it thanks to a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, meaning the spotlight will be on a handful of Republican senators with concerns about the bill. Here’s a look at what they’re saying:

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who cast the vote that doomed the GOP’s push to repeal Obamacare over the summer because of a failure to follow "regular order" and hold hearings, spoke highly of the process this time around. McCain praised the Finance Committee for holding four days of hearings on the measure and hopes that continues when the Senate returns “with both sides of the aisle having sufficient opportunity to debate the merits of tax reform and offer amendments.”

  • Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have expressed concern about the inclusion of the individual mandate repeal and its impact on health insurance markets, with Collins saying that it "greatly complicates our efforts." Murkowski said Thursday that passing a bipartisan health insurance stabilization plan is the key to her support.

  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Wednesday became the first (and so far the only) Republican senator to publicly say they’d vote against the bill. Johnson said it unfairly prioritized tax relief for corporations over "pass-through" entities that many small businesses are, like sole proprietorships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and S corporations.

  • Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) both expressed concerns about the bill’s impact on the deficit (projected to be $1.4 trillion per the Joint Committee on Taxation). Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) joined them in expressing a preference for making portions of the bill permanent.

What do you think?

Should the Senate proceed with the current version of the tax bill? Does it need further amendment on the Senate floor? Should it be stopped altogether? Hit the Take Action button to tell your senators, then share your thoughts in the comments below!

— Eric Revell

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(Photo Credit: malerapaso / iStock)

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(436)
  • Nancy
    11/17/2017
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    Shame on all that voted for the party at the expense of the people!

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  • NoHedges
    11/17/2017
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    The US does not NEED JOBS. We need qualified candidates to fill those jobs. This is an education problem that is impacting the economy; not the other way around. We must invest in the future if we are to survive the present.

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  • Donna
    11/17/2017
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    Tax Reform. Do not increase our debt by reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20%. Rather close the corporate tax loopholes. There is no evidence to support a trickle down effect or an increase in jobs by reducing the corporate tax rate. The country will be weakened by the further erosion of the middle and working class. VOTE AGAINST the reduction in the corporate tax rate.

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  • Lenora
    11/17/2017
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    And here we go... rich getting richer and the poor dies 😡 unbelievable

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  • Brenda
    11/17/2017
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    This is ashamed for the regular people! Vote them OUT ! They are only concerned about their jobs and their donors. No concern for their constituents! VOTE the GOP out !!

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  • Mary
    11/17/2017
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    Do not let this abusive tax bill disguised as “reform”, pass the full Senate. Proponents have deceived the American public and misrepresented the consequences of the proposed tax changes for their constituents. This bill benefits the super-wealthy and burdens the rest of us, eliminating middle class deductions and jeopardizing health care. Most people know that “trickle-down” just doesn’t happen. Shame on members of Congress that support this bill.

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  • Kodiwodi
    11/17/2017
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    Should the Senate pass this piece of crap that will hurt the American Citizens who they are supposed to represent, I believe you will see a quick impeachment and a near complete rout of the GOP in both 2018 and 2020.

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  • Loretta
    11/17/2017
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    I’m having a deja vous The last major tax cut that was going to help me and my family and boost the economy didn’t even buy me a new set of tires for my 9 year old car! After that the market fell and the auto industry had to be bailed out! Even when in a room and asked only three CEOs or CFOS. would say they would use the cuts for investments in jobs for business. Bottom line-the government can cut taxes, but they can’t tell those getting the biggest savings how to spend those savings!

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  • Debra
    11/17/2017
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    This tax plan is totally unethical. Give a huge benefit to the rich, a modest benefit to most of the middle class. and DEVASTATE those with medical problems and the huge bills that result from them. We NEED the deductions desperately. Between healthcare and this - it feels like they are trying to exterminate the unhealthy. Does that ring any bells anyone?

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  • Mark
    11/17/2017
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    Voting in the middle of the night after most of the senate was gone for the day. What a bunch of cowards.

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  • Amy
    11/17/2017
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    Lots of GOP jobs up for grabs

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  • Julie a
    11/17/2017
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    I am SO angry this bill even made it out of committee!! I cannot WAIT to see the Republican Party take their BEATING on Election Day. This tax giveaway for the wealthy, that now will also attack the ACA, leaving millions without health insurance has GOT TO DIE. Kill this bill!!!

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  • NoHedges
    11/17/2017
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    Supreme Court needs to step in NOW! This is a nightmare against the majority of Americans. SC needs to read the statement at the top of our Constitution and ACT ACCORDINGLY. The preamble is part of the Constitution and it is being grossly distorted. Additionally, this entire administration has continually ignored the 14th amendment.

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  • Nancy
    11/17/2017
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    Taxes pay for infrastructure where people live, work in and transport. They pay for the military who protect this country. They pay for education so that children can learn to live in this one planet. They pay to some degree for healthcare so that people born have the resources needed to stay alive after being born. Remember that being anti-abortion isn’t the same as “pro-life” and Planned Parenthood does mostly abortion prevention. A Government surplus is important but so is spending in the right places for issues important to people. The IRS employs 79,850 people in 2015. The elimination of the state and local tax deduction plus medical expenses as an itemized deduction will severely hurt working class families, as well as the student loan interest deduction as an adjustment. Yet, Republicans claim to have “family values”. Remember as well that the President still refuses to release his tax returns. These would explain a lot of rightful concerns people have about where our money is going to. He should again be pressure into releasing all returns and accompanying schedules from 2006 to 2016. Please keep this in mind as you develop “tax reform” which is really just giving money to people who don’t need it, no matter what they say.

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  • Patrick
    11/17/2017
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    This tax bill is not good for the people. If you care at all about your neighbors and country you will not vote yes on this bill. It does not represent what America stands for, unless that is what you and your other constituents believe. Remember, the people are watching. 2018 elections are closing in. Give us reasons to vote for you not against you.

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  • Timothy
    11/17/2017
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    The rich don’t need a tax break. This is class warfare!

    Like (17)
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  • Michael
    11/17/2017
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    Save America!! Vote for the people you serve.

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  • Nancy
    11/17/2017
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    Please do not vote for this bill. Deductions for private jets? Removal of the exemption for adoptions and teachers who spend their own money on supplies? It is so not good for the average working American. Please , I implore you, as one of your constituents, do not vote YEA on this bill.

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  • Kathy
    11/17/2017
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    ABUSE OF POWER!!!!!!! THIS IS A PUTIN/REPUBLICAN TAKEOVER

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  • Michael
    11/17/2017
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    This tax reform is unacceptable and detrimental to the majority of America, both Democrats and Republicans alike. It's a massive tax cut for the wealthy and big corporations, paid for by cutting healthcare for millions, and raising taxes on students and homeowners. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will drive up the deficit and national debt by providing little stimulus to GDP growth. Additionally, it will not lead to higher wages as corporations have an incentive to shareholders to increase profits. It will not create new jobs and investment and there is historical proof of this. Lastly, this fiscal stimulus measure counteracts the tightening of monetary policy that the FED has continued to implement through higher rates. I believe, overall, this could lead to an explosion of national debt over a period we could see an economic downturn or recession which will exasperate the financial distress and result in a major depression. Please vote NO, thank you.

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