The Republican Party is quickly moving tax reform through the halls of power in Congress, hoping it will indeed be a Christmas present for the country as the president has promised.
However, repealing the individual Obamacare mandate may not be a part of the final bill. The White House said this weekend that although it considers the individual mandate a tax, it’s ‘comfortable’ with dropping it from the tax bill.
That’s a position that Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, has been promoting. “The biggest mistake was putting in a provision from the Affordable Care Act into the Senate bill that was not in the House bill and I hope that will be dropped,” she said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
Collins said she doesn’t like the mandate and the penalty that Obamacare imposes on people who don’t buy health insurance. “The fact is that fines are paid overwhelmingly by people who make less than 50K a year. 80 percent of people who pay fines fall in that category,” she said.
If the Senate repeals the mandate, Collins said, it must also work to cut healthcare premiums because if they spike it could negate the effect of tax cuts for middle class families.
Collins also said Sunday that she wants to cut the business tax rate to just 22 percent rather than the 20 percent currently in the bill. But the White House is saying ‘no.’ The Trump administration wants to keep it at 20. It argues that would help to grow the economy and ultimately reduce the national debt.
White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short told ABC Sunday “There are alot of people preaching concern about those debts. The reality is–if we don’t grow our economy we are never going to pay for the things that we need to do such as rebuild our military. If we’re at the 1.8 percent GDP we suffered under the Obama years we will never be able to do the things we need to do such as make our borders secure and make our world secure.”
So far, tax reform is moving on a fast track. The House passed its bill last week and the entire Senate is set to vote after Thanksgiving.
But Collins and five other Republican senators have concerns about the bill. If the Senate leadership changes the bill to address their issues it could lose the votes of other senators.
And, with just 52 Republican senators and total opposition from Democrats the GOP needs every vote it can get.