Senate Democrats say "no" to cuts for rich in GOP tax plan

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 2, 2017

White House legislative director Marc Short told reporters Monday that he is making the case for tax reform to Democratic lawmakers in the Upper Midwest and from states with strong manufacturing industries, such as Pennsylvania. The fast-track process will allow the GOP to try to pass the bills with a simple majority, without needing Democratic support.

But Senate Democrats hope that Republicans will be wary of an aggressive push on taxes flollowing last week's dramatic failure of the GOP effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Three Democrats from states easily carried by President Donald Trump — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of IN, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — did not sign the letter. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of IN and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota - represent states that Trump won IN the 2016 general election. Its sister group, Freedom Partners, has called out West Virginia Democratic Sen.

Republicans have said they are open to a bipartisan tax plan, but most of their discussions on alterations to the code have been among themselves - though that could soon change.

U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are among the Democrats who signed the letter, which also was addressed to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch.

"As I've said before tax reform is a major priority of ours and we will be proceeding with it", Mnuchin said after the meeting.

And the wealthy could potentially benefit a great deal if lawmakers lower business tax rates for corporations and smaller businesses and partnerships.

The White House in April issued a one-page outline for how it wanted to rework the tax code. And to the extent they choose to pay for it, it's not clear if they'll simply lean on optimistic growth assumptions to offset the cost of tax cuts.

"I don't think this is going to be 1986, when you had a bipartisan effort to scrub the code", McConnell explained.

After the Trump administration and the top Republican tax negotiators in Congress released a set of common tax principles last week, Democrats warned they were going down the wrong path.

Given that there could be some dissent from Republicans on various aspects of the plan - whether it is revenue neutral, the lack of a border-adjustment tax, or deductions that favour certain states - winning over some vulnerable Democrats could be important to getting any tax bill through Congress.

The pair has set a self-imposed deadline of the end of the year for the tax overhaul to be completed. "This is a pass-fail exercise".

But finding agreement on tax reform is notoriously hard.

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