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story.lead_photo.caption President Donald Trump talks Friday at the White House with United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley during a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump promised tax cuts Friday that "will be the biggest in the history of our country," a day after the Senate passed a $4 trillion budget that lays the groundwork for Republicans' promised tax legislation.

Republicans hope to push the first tax overhaul in three decades through Congress by year's end, a goal that would fulfill multiple campaign promises but could run aground over any number of disputes. Failure could cost the GOP in next year's midterm elections.

The budget plan, which passed on a near party-line vote late Thursday, includes rules that will allow Republicans to get tax legislation through the Senate without Democratic votes and without fear of a Democratic filibuster. Nonetheless, the GOP's narrow 52-48 majority in the Senate will be difficult for leadership to navigate, as illustrated by the Republicans' multiple failures to pass legislation repealing and replacing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The final vote on the budget was 51-49, with deficit hawk Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky the lone opposing GOP vote.

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Trump suggested Friday on Twitter that Paul would be with him in the end on taxes, even though the senator has been critical of the tax package as it's emerged thus far.

Trump wrote, "The Budget passed late last night, 51 to 49. We got ZERO Democrat votes with only Rand Paul (he will vote for Tax Cuts) voting against........This now allows for the passage of large scale Tax Cuts (and Reform), which will be the biggest in the history of our country!"

It remains to be seen whether the overhaul will add up to the biggest tax cuts ever. Trump and Republicans have only produced a nine-page framework, leaving plenty of blanks that Congress needs to fill in over the coming months on income-tax brackets and the elimination of some favored deductions.

The budget bill, thus the promised tax plan, was not received warmly by the Democrats.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the ranking member of the Budget Committee, declared the budget to be "extremely cruel," and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said it would burden the middle class.

"This nasty and backwards budget greenlights cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in order to give a tax break to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans," Schumer said.

On Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the GOP will add a fourth tax bracket for high-income people to the three originally proposed so that top earners "do not see a big rate cut," but he didn't say what the tax rate would be for that bracket. Speaking on CBS This Morning, Ryan said Republicans are working on the tax rate for "the fourth bracket that the president and others are talking about that we're going to do."

The House has passed a different budget, but House Republicans signaled they would simply accept the Senate plan to avoid any potential of delaying the tax measure. Additionally, Republicans tacked on an amendment to the Senate plan that will enable the House to adopt it without the need for a conference committee before the legislating can begin, a House GOP leadership aide said. That means the budget bill could be passed as soon as next week.

"I look forward to swift passage and to working with the president on tax reform," House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black, R-Tenn., said Friday.


Republicans are looking for accomplishments after a drought of legislative achievements despite controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House. Republican lawmakers publicly admit that failure on taxes would be politically devastating, with control of the House and Senate at stake in next year's midterm elections.

"It would be a complete disaster," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said after the final budget vote.

But Republicans are split on taxes. A restive group of House Republicans from high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California staunchly oppose the tax plan's proposed elimination of the federal deduction for state and local taxes. They maintain it would hurt low- to middle-income taxpayers and subject them to being taxed twice.

Paul, representing another angle of opposition, has insisted that no middle-class taxes rise as a result of the tax bill.

"Rather than bicker over raising tax on some people and lowering taxes on other people, we should cut everyone's taxes," he said.

The White House and GOP leaders have refrained from categorically promising that no middle-class Americans will see a tax increase, arguing that there may be exceptions to the broad tax cuts they aim to provide.

Meanwhile, the White House is making overtures to moderate Democrats in the House and Democratic senators from states that Trump won in the 2016 election. Most heavily courted have been Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. The trio dined this week at the home of president's daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, both top advisers to the president.

But Manchin said after Thursday's vote, "I fear that passage of this budget today will make it difficult to pass bipartisan tax reform in the coming weeks."

In his conversations with Trump, Manchin said, "we have discussed our shared goal of ensuring any tax-reform package passes with both Republican and Democratic votes, and focuses on providing tax relief for working Americans. The current tax-reform proposal ... does not reflect my conversations with the president."

The Democrats were excluded from the drafting of the tax blueprint, and they continue to demand that any tax-cutting plan not add to the mounting $20 trillion national debt. The newly adopted Senate budget plan provides for $1.5 trillion over 10 years in debt-financed tax cuts, busting earlier Republican pledges of strict fiscal discipline.

The government said Friday that the budget deficit rose to $666 billion in the just-completed fiscal year.

The money would be used for the tax plan's cut in the corporate tax rate from 36 percent to 20 percent, reduced taxes for most individuals, and the repeal of inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates. The standard deduction would be doubled, to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families, the number of tax brackets would shrink from seven, and the child tax credit would be increased.

Trump and the Republicans pitch the plan as a boon to the middle class and a spark to economic growth and jobs. Democrats say it mainly would benefit wealthy individuals -- like Trump -- and big corporations.

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said on CNBC that the budget debate shows that enough senators support a new tax law that there won't be a repeat of the failed Affordable Care Act repeal attempt.

Maya MacGuineas, president of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said on CNBC that the decision to allow tax cuts that add up to $1.5 trillion to the debt was a "massive shift" for the Republican Party.

"People who don't care about the deficit and debt are probably cheering about this," she said.


The budget resolution also allows Congress to pursue legislation allowing oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska with only Republican votes.

An amendment that would have deleted language that could allow for drilling legislation failed, 48-52. The Trump administration and congressional Republicans have cast drilling permissions as a way to help pay for the proposed tax cuts.

Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska said Congress can create jobs and enhance energy security by opening a small section of the 19.6 million-acre site to drilling.

"More energy production means more American jobs, more American economic growth, more American national security ... and a more sustainable global environment, because no one in the world produces energy more responsibly than Americans, especially Alaskans," Sullivan said.

But Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said drilling was not worth the risks to a fragile ecosystem that serves as important habitat for polar bears, caribou and migratory birds.

"The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most pristine areas of the United States, and we have been protecting it for decades for a reason," Cantwell said, criticizing the idea of sacrificing biologically important areas "for oil that we don't need. It's not worth it."

The wildlife refuge has been the focus of a political fight for more than three decades. President Bill Clinton vetoed a GOP plan to allow drilling in the refuge in 1995, and Cantwell-led Democrats defeated a similar GOP plan in 2005.

Information for this article was contributed by Marcy Gordon, Andrew Taylor and Matthew Daly of The Associated Press; by Erik Wasson and Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg News; and by Thomas Kaplan of The New York Times.

Photo by AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
In this Aug. 11, 2017 photo, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks to supporters in Hebron, Ky.
Photo by AP Photo/Susan Walsh
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., holds up a copy of a proposed "simple tax" postcard while speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017.

A Section on 10/21/2017

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  • TimberTopper
    October 21, 2017 at 4:56 a.m.

    Ah! It appears once again that when Republicans are in power, there is no concern for the actions they take causing an increase in the national debt.

  • RBear
    October 21, 2017 at 6:52 a.m.

    Exactly TT. Once again, Republicans are trying to trot out the snake oil saleman, Arthur Laffer, and his bogus plan to cut yourself to prosperity. There is no evidence of the Laffer Curve ever actually working, but Republican will swear by it even if they don't really understand the complexities of it. At the state of the economy now, tax cuts will have a minimal impact on growth. We are at almost full employment which means there is really no room to grow unless we allow more immigrants in to work, which that's not flying with this administration.
    All tax cuts will do, especially those being proposed, is help the rich get richer and provide very modest impact to those in the lower tiers. All the while, the deficit continues to grow and there will be no funds for infrastructure, healthcare coverage, or a number of domestic items. Of course, you can bet the military won't be touched. In fact, their spending will probably increase.
    Just more reckless government from Republicans who have finally proven that given both houses of Congress and the White House are incapable of governing effectively.

  • WGT
    October 21, 2017 at 8:11 a.m.

    Republicans must be stopped. Vote. ( We should think about impeachment in the context of what we would get having the despicable Pence replace the deplorable Trump. Pence is every bit as diabolical as Trump with a working knowledge of politics Trump does not possess. Better to interfere Trump and his agenda, rather than pass the agenda to a minion with gravitas and ability. [ And I would suspect Pence does already maneuver quietly in the hallways while diversions and distractions rally the headlines.] The lesser of the evils, ironically, is the vile, repulsive moron now in the Office.

  • KingCoyote
    October 21, 2017 at 11:11 a.m.

    Everything Trump does he claims that it is the biggest, best, greatest, etc. and nothing really ever comes of it.

  • mozarky2
    October 21, 2017 at 1:06 p.m.

    Look, "progs", I'm sure your welfare checks and food stamps will continue apace. Meanwhile, those of us who are actually work will be enjoying fatter paychecks.

  • TimberTopper
    October 21, 2017 at 3:10 p.m.

    moz, if you truly believe things are going to get better for you in this so called tax cut, watch and see who really gets the gravy. If anyone gets a bigger cut than the middle class, you've been screwed again.

  • DEE672
    October 21, 2017 at 5:40 p.m.

    WGT, I think you are wrong. Trump is not the lesser evil no matter how bad Pence is because trump is seriously demented . Look at his face . It has no shape but looks like lumpy mashed potatoes. A look I have seen in students on their way to a mental break down . If Trump can't control the world, he will destroy it and no one wins a nuclear war. I recall the 1962 near catastrophe of the Cuban Missile Crisis. If you don't think it likely , think again. We are closer to calamity than then. Please realize that.

  • mozarky2
    October 21, 2017 at 8:14 p.m.

    TT, could you please explain your comment on the middle class? Won't the middle class get a healthy tax cut? Please elaborate.