The Senate passed the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades early Saturday, with Republicans lining up to approve an overhaul that will touch almost every corner of the United States economy, affecting families, small business owners and multinational corporations, with the biggest benefits flowing to the highest-earning Americans.
Senators voted 51-49, as Republicans approved the nearly 500-page bill in the early morning hours after lawmakers received a rewritten version, 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.”
And GOP senators were bribed into voting for the bill with amendments that were literally penciled in as the final bill was voted on only 2 hours after being finished.
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.
Early on Saturday morning, Mr. Pence provided a tiebreaking vote to pass an amendment offered by Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, that would allow people to use up to $10,000 a year from tax-advantaged 529 savings accounts to fund tuition at private and religious K-12 schools or certain educational expenses for home-schooled students. Right now, such accounts can only be used to pay for higher education.
So how did GOP deficit hawks all vote for the bill (except for Bob Corker)? It's simple, they simply don't believe the analysis that the bill will destroy the US economy.
Democrats opposed the tax bill as a bloc, saying it was meant to help the wealthy and not the middle class. With the Senate split 52 to 48, Republicans barely had votes to spare. But the bill’s passage was made possible by a near-complete Republican embrace of the idea that about $1.5 trillion of tax cuts will pay for themselves, by producing enough economic growth and additional federal revenue to offset their costs to the Treasury.
That belief was contradicted by several studies, including one from Congress’s official economic scorekeeper, which Republicans dismissed as overly pessimistic.
Mr. McConnell waved off any deficit concerns. “I’m totally confident this is a revenue-neutral bill,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a revenue producer.”
The House and Senate will now work quickly to resolve the differences between their bills and deliver a plan to President Trump’s desk, with the aim of delivery by Christmas.
The last time the GOP passed a tax cut bill was 2003, and five years later we had the worst recession in generations. Now the GOP has passed an even more ridiculous bill that, when it fails to produce the growth it claims it will be in order to be revenue-neutral, will automatically trigger trillions in austerity cuts
If this gets through the House and reconciled and onto Trump's desk, even if Trump was impeached and removed from office in January by some miracle, we'd still have a guaranteed financial collapse just in time for Democrats to have to clean up in 2020 or so, and years of "kick the can" austerity to follow.
It'll take decades to fix the damage from this bill, and some of us won't be around to see that happen directly because of the cuts. It's still possible that the bill could fail in conference, but we'd need a massive, massive effort to stop it.