In a move that puts congressional Republicans one step closer to making their long-standing dream of delivering massive tax cuts to the ultra-rich a reality, the House on Tuesday voted by a margin of 227-203 to approve a GOP-crafted tax bill that one advocacy group could only describe as “morally corrupt, cruel, and barbaric.”
Republicans are “robbing the American people and showing no remorse.” —Rep. Pramila Jayapal
“This tax giveaway to corporations and the wealthy is icing on the cake after a long, well-funded, and strategic effort to undermine democratic processes and force our nation’s institutions to represent the will of the elite few above anyone and anything else,” Alan Essig, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Lawmakers will surely turn the passage of this bill into a dog and pony show, but they should be ashamed.”
If Republicans are ashamed of their support for a bill that will send the vast majority of its benefits to the wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations, they did a good job of concealing it. Asked if he is worried about the tax bill’s historic unpopularity in a press conference after the vote, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)—who could hardly contain his glee as he read off the final vote tally—responded that he has “no concerns whatsoever.”
This lack of concern for public opinion was on display when Ryan smiled politely as a protester shouted “liar!” during his final speech in the House chamber. Ryan was one of several members of Congress who was interrupted by demonstrators looking to register their last shouts of dissent against a bill that nonpartisan analysts have said would raise taxes on millions of low-income and middle class Americans.
Republicans are “robbing the American people and showing no remorse,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said in a statement on Tuesday. “This tax scam dismantles the Affordable Care Act, throwing 13 million people off their healthcare. It eliminates most of the State and Local Tax deduction, short-changing communities and resulting in as much as $152 billion in cuts to education funding over the next decade. It runs up the deficit anywhere from $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion, triggering cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Despite what Republicans say, the fact of the matter is that 80 percent of all tax benefits in this bill go to the top one percent.”
With their decision to “rubber stamp” a tax bill that many representatives clearly haven’t read or understood, House Republicans delivered the final tax bill over to the Senate, where a vote is expected Tuesday evening. Because the House hit a “procedural snag” following its vote, it will have to vote to approve the tax measure again Wednesday morning.
While the Senate margin will likely be closer, the last-minute decision of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to back the legislation—despite having few if any of her “demands” met—dealt a blow to hopes that the GOP will fail to get the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has come under fire for changing his vote to “yes” following the inclusion of a provision that could net him a $1.1 million annual tax break, has given no indication that he will vote against the measure come Tuesday night.
In a statement following the House’s vote, Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, expressed confidence that even if the Senate approves the final tax bill, it will ultimately “be repealed in response to overwhelming demand from the American people.”
“This tax scam is an offense against democratic values, human decency, transparent and orderly process, justice, honest economics, the poor, solidarity, and common sense,” Weissman concluded. “America needs tax justice in which corporations making record profits and the new robber barons accumulating such abundant wealth are forced to pay what they owe, and are made to pay a larger share of the nation’s overall taxes. The public reaction to today’s heinous tax bill will speed the day when that tax justice is realized.”
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