Furiously working to finish a tax bill, House Republicans have decided to keep the income tax rate for the wealthiest earners in the face of Democratic criticism that the overhaul pushed by President Donald Trump would benefit the rich.
Trump and the GOP consider a revamp of the nation’s tax code, the first in three decades, a legislative and political imperative after the collapse this past summer of Republican attempt to repeal Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Republicans insist they must deliver on taxes to keep their congressional majorities in next year’s midterm elections.
Health care was clearly a consideration in Trump’s tweet Wednesday morning as he suggested repealing the requirement that Americans get health insurance or face a tax penalty.
The president wrote, “Wouldn’t it be great to Repeal the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate in ObamaCare and use those savings for further Tax Cuts for the Middle Class. The House and Senate should consider ASAP as the process of final approval moves along. Push Biggest Tax Cuts EVER.”
The idea of repealing the individual mandate has been pushed by one Republican senator, Arkansas’ Tom Cotton. However, House Republican leaders see such a step as adding political complications to an already difficult task of crafting a tax bill that can pass the House and Senate.
The GOP blew past its self-imposed deadline for public release of the plan, with the rollout now set for Thursday. Trump set an ambitious by-Christmas timetable for passage of a major rewrite. It remains to be seen whether it will be the biggest tax cut ever as he claims.
Tax writers decided to maintain the highest personal income tax rate at its current 39.6 percent and to slash the top tax rate for corporations to 20 percent from 35 percent. They strained to complete other last-minute changes, but failed to finalize details to meet their Wednesday deadline for a public release.