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House passes budget, paving way for tax reform


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House passes budget, paving way for tax reform

 

The House passed its 2018 budget resolution Thursday in a party-line vote that represents a step toward its goal of sending tax-reform legislation to President Trump. In a 219-206 vote, lawmakers approved a budget resolution for 2018 that sets up a process for shielding the GOP tax bill from a filibuster in the Senate.

A total of 18 Republicans voted against the resolution, along with all the Democrats who were present.

GOP lawmakers hailed the vote as meaningful because of the tax measure.

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“We haven’t reformed this tax system since 1986. We need to pass this budget so we can help bring more jobs, fairer taxes and bigger paychecks for people across this country,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said during House floor debate.

Democrats lambasted it for the same reason.

“This budget isn’t about conservative policy or reducing the size of our debt and deficits. It’s not even about American families. This budget is about one thing — using budget reconciliation to ram through giant tax giveaways to the wealthy and big corporations — and to do it without bipartisan support,” said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee.

The budget reconciliation rules would allow Republicans in the Senate to pass tax reform without any Democratic votes, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can only afford two defections. Republicans used the same strategy for ObamaCare repeal but failed, and are hoping for a better outcome on taxes.

Yet there are already signs of trouble, with some Republicans questioning whether the tax proposal would add too much to the deficit, and others balking at plans to eliminate a deduction for state and local taxes. The tax plan is now estimated to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade, but that figure would grow if the state and local tax deduction is not eliminated.

Republicans have yet to secure a major legislative win despite having unified control of government. They hope to secure a tax win by the end of the year, which is an ambitious timeline.

The GOP tax reform framework unveiled last week would cut the top tax rate for the wealthy and lower taxes for businesses. The proposal would consolidate the current seven individual tax brackets into three, with rates of 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent. Committees may choose to establish a fourth rate above 35 percent for the wealthiest Americans. The current top individual rate is 39.6 percent. 

House Republicans are far behind schedule in passing the budget, which is normally approved in the spring. Thursday’s vote comes five days into the new fiscal year, and a month after the House passed all 12 of its spending bills for 2018. 

The government is operating under a temporary spending measure that runs out on December 8. Congress and Trump must strike a new deal to prevent a shutdown after that deadline. The House budget is in many ways an opening bid in that battle. 

Like the already-passed spending bills, it would increase defense spending by $72 billion, and cut nondefense spending by $5 billion. The Senate’s plan keeps overall funding levels steady.

It also includes plans for trillions of dollars in spending cuts over a decade, including from programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, but does include enforcement mechanisms to enact those plans. The budget outline, for example, assumes the adoption of a House-passed ObamaCare repeal bill that has not advanced.

The House budget leaves no room for tax reform to add to the deficit. Instead, it provides instructions for $203 billion in spending cuts from welfare programs in areas such as nutritional assistance and education. 

To unlock the reconciliation rules for tax reform, lawmakers will likely have to go to conference to sort out differences with the Senate’s budget resolution. The upper chamber’s version is being marked up in committee Thursday and is expected to move to the Senate floor in two weeks. 

The Senate budget carves out $1.5 trillion in possible tax cuts for the reform effort, a figure the House is expected to agree to. The Senate is not expected to accept the $203 billion in mandatory cuts from the House budget, but House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) said she will fight to keep them in. 

GOP fights ObamaCare PR war


waving flagAuthored

Republicans are facing a new public relations war in their effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare. The GOP Congress has repeatedly approved legislation to repeal ObamaCare, but those proposals went nowhere with President Obama in the White House. Now that Republicans also hold the White House, the challenge for the GOP is taking the long-promised action in a way that won’t backfire politically. And that’s turning out to be harder than many anticipated.complete-message

Polls show the public is divided on whether to repeal ObamaCare, which doesn’t make the task of unraveling one of the largest social programs passed in recent history any easier.

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Republicans say the key to winning the public relations battle is for their party to highlight the weaknesses of ObamaCare, a law even most Democrats admit could improve from legislative changes.

“I think the thing that, simply from a Republican standpoint, is to point out it’s a failing system,” said GOP Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who pointed to rising insurance premiums and fewer choices for consumers as significant problems that will spur public support for the GOP’s plans.

The GOP arguments are being made to a politically polarized population on edge after the 2016 presidential election. Democrats are doing everything they can to make it tougher for Republicans to take action on ObamaCare. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says Republicans want to “Make America Sick Again,” playing off of President Trump’s campaign slogan. Other Democratic senators have said repealing ObamaCare will lead to the deaths of thousands of people.Leftist Propagandist

Republicans have faced angry crowds at some town halls, where people have expressed their displeasure at possibly losing health benefits. While Republicans contend that much of the opposition at the local events is being ginned up by Democrats, it appears to have had an effect. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) tells upset constituents that Republicans are aware that repealing ObamaCare must result in a “much-improved health system.” 

“We will be judged on our success in doing so,” he said.

A GOP aide to a congressman who faced a contentious town hall earlier this month said it’s about finding common ground.

“Even though they may disagree on the overall repeal of the ACA, he still believes it’s not sustainable…. From what he’s heard so far, I think he understands there is room for common ground and solutions.”

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has been on a media blitz to paint ObamaCare as a disaster. But his efforts have been challenged by disunity on the GOP side. Some Republicans are now talking about repairing ObamaCare, while others are in more of a repeal or bust camp. The party still hasn’t coalesced around a replacement plan, which makes taking on Democrats tougher.

“Until everyone is on the same page, it’s very hard to combat a lot of those allegations,” said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist.

“If they’re not looking like they’re walking in a unified front and like they have the perfect solution, it’s going to be very hard to get public support on your side.”kick-em-out-of-office

Republicans blew past a self-imposed January 27 deadline to have repeal legislation drafted. Leaked audio of Republicans speaking at their GOP conference highlighted differences within the party. If Republicans want to get, and keep public support as they try to repeal ObamaCare, they need to appear to be on the same page, said GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak.

“Republican unity is crucial. Finding a bill that Susan Collins and Jim Jordan can support and agree on is difficult,” he said, referring to two Republicans who appear to be on the opposite side of their party.

“If Republicans are divided and Democrats are unified, that’s a great way to lose this battle before it begins.”amen

Republicans believe they have a mandate to take action on ObamaCare. For evidence, just look at the election, they say.

Rep. Diane Black, who faced a fiery crowd at a townhall in Tennessee on Thursday night, doubled down on the Republican’s goal to repeal ObamaCare.

“While there were strong feelings at this forum, there is no mistaking the clear message Tennesseans sent last November at the ballot box when they sent Congressman Black and President Trump to Washington to repeal ObamaCare and put patients back in control of their healthcare choices,” her office said in a statement Friday.

“As a registered nurse, Congressman Black ran for office on a platform of providing relief from this disastrous law, and she is intent on keeping that pledge.” 

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