The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved of an overhaul of the US tax code, sending reforms that will overwhelmingly benefit corporations and the wealthy to President Trump’s desk for signature.
It was the final congressional hurdle for a piece of legislation that is unpopular with the American people, and defies the GOP’s stated concerns about fiscal responsibility, by adding an additional $1.4 trillion of red ink to the national debt.
“Nobody knows the answer to that question because that’s in the future,” Ryan said Wednesday when asked on NBC’s The Today Show about whether or not the tax cut would pay for itself—a dogma of right-wing economic thought.
Passage of the legislation comes one day after the chamber first approved of the measure. The House had to revote on the package on Wednesday after the Senate made changes before approving it on Tuesday.
The final tally was 224-201, with every single Democrat and a dozen Republicans dissenting.
A raft of provisions in the bill would disproportionately send benefits to rich Americans. The corporate tax rate is reduced from 35 percent to 21 percent. The top individual tax bracket will see its rate dropped from 39.6 percent to 37 percent. The bill would also shield groups of millionaire heirs from paying estate taxes.
Individuals on the lower end of the income spectrum would also see their income taxes reduced, although unlike the corporate tax cuts, which are permanent, the individual reductions expire in 2027, and would then result in a tax increase on most Americans.
Included in the final measure sent to the President is a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. A major mechanism of the Obama-era health reform law, the mandate insured that healthier people would help share the costs associated with providing non-discriminatory health insurance to sick Americans.
Repealing the mandate is projected to cause heath insurance premiums to jump 10 percent across the board, according to the CBO.
During a cabinet meeting Wednesday morning, President Trump cited the mandate’s elimination as proof that Republicans had finally taken care of Obamacare.
“We have essentially repealed Obamacare,” he claimed. “When the individual mandate is being repealed that means Obamacare is being repealed.”
Trump went on to praise broader tax reform efforts, claiming: “We had a historic victory for the American people.”
Then, in bizarre scene for am official cabinet meeting, Trump turned it over to his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson to recite a prayer.
“We thank you for the President and cabinet member who are courageous, who are willing to face the winds of controversy in order to provide a better future for those who come behind us,” Carson began.
At the behest of President Trump, Congressional Republican prioritized passage of their corporate tax cut bill to get it done before Christmas, leaving issues like funding of the government and the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) unaddressed.
CHIP expired at the end of September, leaving states to burn through reserve funding in the program to continue providing health insurance assistance to poor and working class Americans.
Sixteen states are expected to run out of CHIP funding by the end of January.
The federal government, meanwhile, is scheduled to run out of money Friday at midnight unless Congress can strike a deal on another spending measure.