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story.lead_photo.caption House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, center, embraces Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, left, as House and Senate conferees after GOP leaders announced they have forged an agreement on a sweeping overhaul of the nation's tax laws on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017.

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans forged an agreement Wednesday on a major overhaul of the nation's tax laws that would provide generous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans — Donald Trump among them — and deliver the first major legislative accomplishment to the GOP president.

Middle- and low-income families would get smaller tax cuts, though Trump and GOP leaders have billed the package as a huge benefit for the middle class. The measure would scrap a major tax requirement of Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, a step toward the ultimate GOP goal of unraveling the law.

"The cynical voices that opposed tax cuts grow smaller and weaker, and the American people grow stronger," Trump said at the White House. "This is for people of middle income, this is for companies that are going to create jobs. This is for very, very special people, the great people of America."

The business tax cuts would be permanent, but reductions for individuals would expire after a decade — saving money to comply with Senate budget rules. In all, the bill would cut taxes by about $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, adding billions to the nation's mounting debt.

The legislation, which is still being finalized, would cut the top tax rate for the wealthy from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, slash the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and allow homeowners to deduct interest only on the first $750,000 of a new mortgage.

The top tax rate currently applies to income above $470,000 for married couples, though lawmakers are reworking the tax brackets.

The standard deduction would be nearly doubled, to $24,000 for married couples.

Details of the agreement were described by Republican senators and congressional aides.

"It's not my vision of the perfect, but again, this is definitely going to be a strong pro-growth tax package," said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

Republicans see passage of the legislation as a political imperative, proving to voters they can govern as the GOP fights to hold onto its majorities in the House and Senate. Republicans said they expect the package to increase economic growth, generating additional tax revenue and lessening the hit to the budget deficit. Independent economists aren't as optimistic.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said she and her colleagues expect a "modest lift" to economic growth from the tax package.

Yellen said during a news conference the likelihood of lower taxes is why Fed officials expect the economy to grow at 2.5 percent in 2018. But growth would then slip back closer to its recent 2 percent average.

She said that any wage growth would likely stem from the low unemployment rate rather than the tax cuts.

Negotiators have removed several controversial provisions from the tax bill, including one that would have eliminated the deduction for interest on student loans and another deduction for medical expenses, said two congressional aides.

Also, the bill would no longer start taxing graduate-school tuition waivers, said the aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations.

The tax bill would scale back the deduction for state and local taxes, allowing families to deduct only up to a total of $10,000 in property and income taxes. The deduction is especially important to residents of high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and California.

Business owners who report business income on their personal tax returns would be able to deduct 20 percent of that income.

The bill would repeal the mandate that most Americans get health insurance, a provision of the 2010 health care law. Republicans suffered a defeat this past summer when they were unable to dismantle the health care law after seven years of promises. Scrapping the individual mandate would provide them with more than $300 billion for deeper tax cuts while undermining the law.

Senate leaders plan to vote on the package Tuesday. If it passes, the House would vote next. GOP leaders hope to send the bill to Trump before Christmas.

"Let's not waver now — let's not give in to the Washington status quo — not when tax reform is so close," said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

The measure has come under assault by Democrats who say it is unfairly tilted in favor of business and the wealthy.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said the public doesn't know all the details of the bill, "but they smell what's going on and that is tax cuts for the wealthiest and no help for so many in the middle class."

Schumer predicted that the politically unpopular bill would drag down Republicans in next year's congressional elections. "I believe they'll pay a very steep price for this bill in 2018," he said.

The agreement was reached hours before a joint House-Senate conference committee met in public for the first time. The committee is charged with blending the tax bills passed by the House and Senate, though Republicans have done all of their negotiations privately.

Democrats have not been included in any substantive talks on the bill.

The full details will be unveiled by the end of the week, Brady said.

Once the plan is signed into law, workers could start seeing changes in the amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks early next year, lawmakers said — though taxpayers won't file their 2018 returns until the following year.

Corporate tax cuts would take effect in January, allowing businesses to immediately write off the full cost of capital investments.

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

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  • pierce989
    December 13, 2017 at 12:30 p.m.

    I get paid over $87 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I never thought I'd be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless. Here’s what I've been doing>> w­w­w.T­a­g­3­0.c­o­m

  • RBear
    December 13, 2017 at 12:31 p.m.

    They are in a rush to get this passed before Jones enters the Senate. You can bet they are trading horses, giving away farms, and promising anything they can to get this done. It's a rush job and those are never good. We'll see what it looks like WHEN it finally is unveiled. All the while, they continue to raise the deficit and the debt, things they chastised Democrats about for decades. The party of hypocrisy, but too dumb to admit it.

  • BEARTRAP919
    December 13, 2017 at 2:15 p.m.

    RBear says it well, But it is not that they are too dumb to admit it, The Fact is they do not Care.

  • chet43
    December 13, 2017 at 2:24 p.m.

    I get paid over $87 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I never thought I'd be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless. Here’s what I've been doing>> w­w­w­.­W­i­k­4­.­c­o­m

  • Packman
    December 13, 2017 at 2:25 p.m.

    YEEHAAAA! Making America Great Again.
    .
    Hey RBear - You want a little cheese with that "whine'? BWHAAAHAAAHAAAHAAA!

  • Whippersnapper
    December 13, 2017 at 2:31 p.m.

    The Democrats rushed to get Obamacare through after Scott Brown won an election to replace Ted Kennedy. The Democrats have twice (2001 and 2010) used a defection by a Senator AFTER he was elected to represent the Republicans as an opportunity to push stuff through. It is disingenuous at best for them to claim that Republicans ought to wait now.

  • Foghorn
    December 13, 2017 at 3:01 p.m.

    This bill is a gift to Dems. By the time 2020 rolls around, all those Trump duped in 2016 - the Rust Belters and all the others - will have figured out there is no ‘trickle down’ effect. They’ll still be un or underemployed as they are now. Their kids will be saddled with crippling school loans, interest on which isn’t deductible, and won’t be able to find jobs due to automation. There will be massive backlash for whatever remains of the GOP.

  • wildblueyonder
    December 13, 2017 at 3:31 p.m.

    Democrats can do something and it's okay. (adding to the deficit) Let Republicans do the same thing and it's called hypocrisy. Doesn't make sense but no lib ever has.

  • TimberTopper
    December 13, 2017 at 3:38 p.m.

    They may have a time getting it passed, as Paul says he's not for it as it raises the debt. Who knows, maybe there's one other concerned American in the Senate that is a Republican.

  • notbot
    December 13, 2017 at 4:19 p.m.

    What a huge gift, everything passes free from generation to generation. Heck no, it’s never been taxed, they’re not estate planning dummies! Then, the gift keeps on giving in the higher incomes... Scam of the CENTURY!

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