Furor over GOP tax bills

In the dead of night, Senate Republicans passed a sweeping package of tax changes Dec. 1. The bill reduces taxes dramatically on corporations and high-income taxpayers, while raising them slightly on many working people. It was rushed to a vote without a hearing, and passed 51-49 with no support from Democrats. The U.S. House passed a separate version of the bill in a 227-205 vote Nov. 16. At  press time Republican leaders in the two chambers were trying to modify and reconcile the two versions and bring a harmonized bill back for final approval.

No Oregon or Washington senators voted for it, and Oregon’s Ron Wyden called it a “scam,” in a press conference call: “They started out promising a substantial tax cut to the middle class,” Wyden said, “but they produced a multi-trillion handout to the wealthy that will raise taxes on hardworking Americans.”

Signs are the public is not pleased: Polls show just  31 percent of Americans support the tax changes, and 64 percent said the wealthy will reap the most benefits from the overhaul.

“The GOP tax bill that passed the Senate by one vote is nothing but an attack on America’s workers,” said national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We will pay more, corporations and billionaires will pay less.”

Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the Senate version of the plan to cut taxes on the rich would add $1 trillion to the federal debt. That’s if Republican leaders don’t then cut spending. But House Speaker Paul Ryan already is talking about cutting Medicare, Medicaid and welfare when Congress returns to work in 2018 — to try to lower the deficit.

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