New York Times - Business

Live Briefing: Republican Tax Bill Heads to a Vote

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, speaking on the House floor, called the vote “a turning point” saying “this is our chance, this is our moment.” When the bill passed the House, a giddy Mr. Ryan smiled broadly and banged the gavel with force as he declared victory.

Passage of the bill came over the strenuous objections of Democrats in both the House and the Senate, who have accused Republicans of giving a gift to corporations and the wealthy and driving up the federal debt in the process. The final vote tally can be found here.

Twelve House Republicans also voted no on the bill, including lawmakers from high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and California.

How Each House Member Voted on the Tax Bill

The House passed the Republicans’ tax overhaul bill. The bill will now head to the Senate for a vote.

Under the bill approved by the House, the corporate tax rate would be cut to 21 percent, from the current 35 percent, a move that Republicans are betting will increase economic growth. Individuals would also see tax cuts, including a top rate of 37 percent, down from 39.6 percent. But the individual tax cuts would expire after 2025, a step that Republicans took to comply with budget rules that allow them to pass the tax overhaul using a simple majority, and without Democratic votes.

Republicans in Congress moved with remarkable speed to enact the biggest tax overhaul since 1986, unveiling legislation to rewrite the tax code, marshaling support for their effort and devising a compromise between the House and Senate in under two months.

Their success was a stark contrast with their effort this year to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a quest that was encumbered by internal divisions among Republicans and ultimately ended in humiliating failure. And it gives Mr. Trump a big accomplishment as the first year of his presidency nears an end.

The action moves to the Senate

The day Republicans have been anxiously awaiting is here as they begin moving their $ 1.5 trillion legislation to final votes in the House and Senate. Now that the House has voted, the action moves to the Senate, which has a much narrower majority of just 52-48.

The bill is expected to pass the Senate along party lines as well and Republicans scored two significant wins on Monday when Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine said they would back the bill. With Bob Corker of Tennessee also on board, the tax overhaul appears headed to passage, even without the vote of Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has returned home to receive medical treatment.

If all goes as planned and no Republicans defect, the bill should arrive on President Trump’s desk before the Christmas deadline the party has outlined.

‘Tax cuts for Christmas’

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in a celebratory mood, told reporters at her briefing that the House vote put President Trump one step closer to delivering “tax cuts for Christmas.”

She again said that the president would not release his tax returns, the only way that experts can determine precisely how the tax bill would impact his personal finances. The tax package, on the surface, appears hugely beneficial to the Trump family. It continues many favorable tax preferences for commercial real estate that were curtailed for other industries, cuts the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, and doubles the inheritance that Mr. Trump’s children can shield from taxation, to $ 22 million.

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Protests erupted in the House gallery.

Capitol Police escorted a whole row of protesters out of the House chamber during the debate. Protesters yelled, “kill the bill, don’t kill us” and “shame, shame, shame.” Two additional protesters piped up during Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s speech, one questioning his ability to do math.

The debate was largely a sideshow

The bill is done and dusted and while the House and Senate allow for debate on the bill ahead of the vote, it will not alter the bill’s content or trajectory.

Republicans are expected to continue promoting the benefits of the tax cut as helping the middle-class while Democrats will continue to assail the bill as a gift to corporations and the wealthy.

Several changes in the legislation were made late last week when the House and Senate versions were reconciled. Here is what is in the tax bill.

Corker explains his flip

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee told The New York Times that he faced a “tough” decision in backing a tax bill that is projected to add to the deficit.

Mr. Corker had initially said he would oppose the final bill, then decided the $ 1.5 trillion tax cut was better for the nation than doing nothing at all.

“It’s been really tough, especially because I did think, I really felt like we could have had a bipartisan bill that would have really withstood more fully the test of time,” Mr. Corker said.

Still, theories about his switch continue to percolate. Some suggested Mr. Corker, who has said that he will not seek re-election to the Senate, may be rethinking his political future, while others asserted that he was bought off by a late-added provision that would benefit people with large real estate holdings, including him.

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In an interview on Monday, Mr. Corker dismissed those theories and said he faced a wrenching decision as a Republican lawmaker with deep concerns about the country’s mounting debt and a strong desire to overhaul the tax code. In the end, he said, he put his fiscal principles aside on the assumption that the nation would be better off with the tax cuts than without.

The tax bill is still unpopular

Republicans might be preparing to celebrate the passage of their tax bill, but everyday taxpayers are not popping the champagne bottles just yet.

A new poll from CNN and SSRS found that the tax legislation continues to be unpopular with the general public, with 55 percent opposing the proposals and 33 percent supporting them. Opposition to the bill has jumped by 10 percentage points since early November.

More people think they will be worse off after the tax bill is signed into law, and a majority of people think the tax cuts will favor the rich rather than the middle class.

The survey, conducted from Thursday to Sunday, queried 1,001 adults by landline and cellphone.

Republicans say people will learn to love the tax bill

Mr. Ryan dismissed polling that suggests the tax bill is unpopular and attributed skepticism about the legislation to pundits spreading untruths on television.

He said that he was confident that once taxpayers saw more money in their paychecks and enjoyed the benefits of a simpler tax filing system, they would learn to appreciate the merits of the tax bill.

“Results are going to make this popular,” Mr. Ryan said at his weekly news conference.

Club for Growth wanted a bigger Christmas gift

Not all conservatives are jumping for joy over the prospect of tax cuts for Christmas.

The Club for Growth said on Tuesday that the $ 1.5 trillion tax bill Republicans are poised to sign “falls short of pro-growth expectations.”

What’s in the Final Republican Tax Bill

The legislation would cut taxes for corporations. American taxpayers, in large part, would also get cuts, though most of the changes affecting them would expire after 2025.

The group wants Republicans to try again next year with a focus of lowering taxes for pass-through businesses, eliminating the estate tax completely, fully repealing the alternative minimum tax and getting rid of the rest of the Affordable Care Act’s taxes.

“There’s no reason we have to wait another 30 years to enact additional reform,” said David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth.

Some Republicans from high-tax states will vote no

The original House bill passed without support from 13 Republicans, including 12 from the high-tax states of California, New York and New Jersey, where constituents could see their taxes go up because of a cap to the state and local tax deduction, known as SALT. The Senate and House bills both capped SALT at $ 10,000 and restricted it to deducting property taxes only.

The final tax bill still contains a cap of $ 10,000 but allows individuals to use that deduction for property taxes as well either income or sales taxes. But the change is not expected to be enough to win over many of the Republicans who voted against the House bill given they could be vulnerable to losing their seats if constituents feel a pinch from higher taxes.

The wealthiest still benefit the most under tax bill

The final tax bill would reduce taxes on average by about $ 1,600 in 2018, increasing after-tax incomes 2.2 percent, with the largest benefit going to the wealthiest households, a new analysis finds.

The Tax Policy Center, which analyzed the final bill, said taxpayers in the bottom quintile, with less than $ 25,000 in income, would get an average tax cut of $ 60, or 0.4 percent of after tax income.

Those in the middle income quintile — earning between about $ 49,000 and $ 86,000 — would receive an average tax cut of about $ 900, or 1.6 percent of after-tax income. Those earning between $ 86,000 and $ 149,000 would see an average tax cut of $ 1,800 or 1.9 percent of after-tax income. Taxpayers with income between about $ 308,000 and $ 733,000, would see an average tax cut of about $ 13,500 or 4.1 percent of after-tax income.

Taxpayers in the top 1 percent of the income distribution (those with income more than $ 733,000) would receive an average cut of $ 51,000, or 3.4 percent of after-tax income.

While the bill has changed several times since it originally was introduced in the House and Senate, the basic financial impact remains the same, writes Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.

“Most households would get a tax cut at first, with the biggest benefits going to those with the highest incomes. After 2025, when nearly all of the bill’s individual income tax provisions are due to expire, only high-income people would get a meaningful tax cut,” Mr. Gleckman writes.

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