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Sunday, November 19, 2017, 8:29 a.m.

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GOP appears set to muscle budget through Senate as it eyes tax cuts

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published October 19, 2017 at 10:37 a.m. Updated October 19, 2017 at 4:54 p.m.

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President Donald Trump speaks during anews conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. Trump on Tuesday will call the families of four soldiers killed this month in Niger, the White House says, as Trump again casts doubt on whether his predecessor appropriately consoled the families of military personnel who died in war. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON — Republicans controlling the Senate appear set to muscle their $4 trillion budget plan through the Senate late Thursday, turning back successive attempts by Democrats to derail GOP plans for a tax cut later this year.

A pair of 52-47 votes kept the GOP budget blueprint on track. The measure would set the stage for tax legislation later this year that could pass through the Senate without fear of a filibuster by Democrats — and add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years.

President Donald Trump weighed in Thursday, telling reporters that "I think we have the votes for the budget which will be phase one of our massive tax cuts and reform."

Only one Republican senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, has expressed opposition to the budget, which shelves GOP deficit concerns in favor of the party's tax cut drive.

The coming tax measure, always a top item on the GOP agenda, has taken on even greater urgency with the failure of the party to carry out its longstanding promise to dismantle former President Barack Obama's signature health care law. Republicans have said failure on taxes would be politically devastating in next year's midterm elections when control of the House and Senate are at stake.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the tax-writing Finance Committee, proposed stripping the GOP of its ability to push through subsequent tax legislation without fear of a Democratic filibuster, arguing tax reform should be bipartisan — as was the tax reform effort signed into law by former President Ronald Reagan three decades ago.

"It's just the opposite of the kind of approach Ronald Reagan and Democrats used in 1986," Wyden said. "It's going to polarize us rather than bring us together."

Wyden's amendment failed.

The House passed its version of the budget last week. It calls for tax cuts that don't add to the deficit and would pair the tax rewrite measure with $200 billion in spending cuts over the coming decade. Both plans seek to crack open a longstanding ban on oil and gas exploration in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Under Capitol Hill's byzantine budget rules, the nonbinding budget resolution is supposed to lay out a long-term fiscal framework for the government. This year's measure calls for $473 billion in cuts from Medicare over 10 years and more than $1 trillion from Medicaid. All told, Senate Republicans would cut spending by more than $5 trillion over a decade, though they don't attempt to spell out where the cuts would come from.

If the measure's politically difficult cuts were implemented, the budget deficit would drop to $424 billion after 10 years and average about $540 billion a year over the life of the plan, the Congressional Budget Office estimates.

Republicans use different math, relying on optimistic predictions of economic growth that average 2.6 percent a year — while ignoring growing, chronic deficits run by Social Security —and say that their budget could actually generate a surplus by 2026.

Lawmakers on both sides are pressing to break open the measure's tight spending "caps" on the Pentagon and domestic agency operations and pass tens of billions of dollars more in hurricane relief in coming days and weeks.

"Anything that we do here has to be completed in other committees in order to ever happen," said Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. "But this budget does slow Medicare's projected annual rate of growth by approximately 1 percent."

GOP leaders appear to have rounded up the votes to pass the plan late Thursday. Paul is the only Republican to come out against the measure — despite wooing from Trump — while more moderate Republicans who bucked the party on health care earlier this year, such as Susan Collins of Maine, are backing the effort.

Details on the coming tax bill are still being worked out. It would permit lawmakers to use $1.5 trillion in debt-financed tax cuts to ease passage of a follow-up plan to sharply reduce corporate rates, cut taxes for most individuals, and eliminate taxes on multimillion dollar estates.

"The fact is, most of the rest of the world has been about the business of improving their tax code while we have not," said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. "This is our moment, our opportunity to catch up, and we could do it in a big way as long as we pass this budget."

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 total comments

Packman says... October 19, 2017 at 11:32 a.m.

Dr. Walter Williams has an excellent article in today's paper with the facts on who pays federal income taxes. Libs, predictably, will squeal that these cuts only benefit "the rich" and will force poor people to eat dog food. The good news is libs have trotted out this line too many times and it has lost its effect. Thank Gawd for President Donald J. Trump.

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TimberTopper says... October 19, 2017 at 12:15 p.m.

Packy, you love being lied to, huh? Invest a bundle in his new hotel chain that's coming, and see how that turns out.

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rubythecat96gmailcom says... October 19, 2017 at 1:21 p.m.

the rich pay 70 percent of the tax in this country and also create the majority of jobs. that's pretty easy to figure out. the tax plan includes increasing the amount of deductibles for your children. that surely will help the majority of Americans. The democrats had plenty of time to come up with a their idea of a fairer, more streamline tax plan while in office. but like immigration did not act on it. this tax plan is long overdue. lets hope the democrats realize it is in their best interest to support this plan.

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TimberTopper says... October 19, 2017 at 2:27 p.m.

ruby, you don't know the whole picture on the plan as of yet nore does the POTUS, or the Republican Party. You are just making sound bites. Are you like Packy and probably a big enough fool to vote for and now support the Russian candidate for POTUS. Where is your American Pride, none left, huh?

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TimberTopper says... October 19, 2017 at 2:32 p.m.

ruby, read the article about people in Arkansas loosing the tax break on local taxes, that would include the Arkansas income tax. You are just really not very bright are you?

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DEE672 says... October 19, 2017 at 3:13 p.m.

Greed, greed and GREED is the basis of all or most all of EVIL. Anyone in the congress who has the least bit of integrity left after backing this unbelievable excuse for a president just to get tax breaks for their rich donating class must have to take a shower after every meeting with trumpy to wash off the slime. No one ever imagined anyone like trump would be elected to any office. To just keep wanting more and more when they are filthy rich already is obscene. My philosophy regarding money is once I have set aside enough to see me out of this world without being a burden to any person or a parasite on the state, I give away whatever is beyond my own needs to people I actually know who are worthy and in need of some shoring up. That includes persons and certain charities I have long supported. SHAME, shame on you money glutton voters and congressmen.

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3WorldState1 says... October 19, 2017 at 4:34 p.m.

Ruby proves each time he/she is lacking in the fundamentals.
I would say this about the "tax reform" the GOP is always pushing. Why do we need tax cuts? The market is on fire. We've had steady job creation for for what, 7-8 years? We are 20 trillion in debt and we have baby boomers retiring at 10k a day for the next 20 years. Why the hell do we need to cut taxes? Federal income tax is as low as it has been in 50 years. Look it up. I thought the GOP cared about the debt? The biggest driver of our debt over the last ten years was Bush's double tax cut (during two freaking wars!!!!). We lost trillions in revenue.
Reform? Yes. Tax cuts? Prob not. It would be nice to have more money. I would rather allow the poor to have health care and pay down some of our debt and build a bridge or two. This will just dig our hole deeper. Just look it up. It's all right there for whomever wants to look. If anything taxes should go up on extremely high earners. And yes, I know who pays the taxes. Me and my other lucky, hard working Americans.

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DEE672 says... October 19, 2017 at 4:47 p.m.

3 world, you are entirely correct on tax cuts. The poor have been tricked into believing that everyone has to pay a "death tax" which is so very stupidly false. Only the multimillionaires pay the tax if they can't get out of it.

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