McConnell touts tax reform package in Louisville hours after bill clears Senate 51-49

12/02/2017 06:10 PM

Hours after passing a comprehensive tax package on a narrow 51-49 vote early Saturday morning, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a victory lap of sorts in his home state.

McConnell spoke to reporters ahead of a scheduled appearance at the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s annual conference at the Galt House and said he expects to get the legislation to President Donald Trump’s desk in a matter of weeks.

The Senate and House must agree on a final version of the bill before Congress can send it to Trump for his signature.

“I think there’s a good chance it’ll get the president before Christmas,” McConnell said. “The bills aren’t all that different. Just to give you an example, the original version we were considering in the Senate would not have allowed any deductibility for state and local taxes. We decided in order to come closer to the House bill to put in the same $10,000 property tax credit that they put in the House bill. There aren’t massive differences.”

McConnell defended key components of the tax reform bill, which opponents say benefit the richest Americans more than middle- and lower-class citizens.

He said that the average family of four will see tax breaks around $2,200 each year under the plan.

“Most of the really wealthy people I’ve run into don’t think they’re getting anything,” McConnell said. “We did not get rid of the estate tax. We took the top rate down, I think, less than 1 percent.”

“I understand the talking points, and you all hear both of our talking points from both sides, but I think the best way to look at it, if you’re going to have any kind of tax changes, the people who pay the taxes are likely to get more relief than others,” he added.

Asked about the decision to permanently slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and set individual tax cuts to expire in 2026, McConnell said he would have preferred to see individual rates made permanent as well.

“I think the chances, six or seven years in, that individual rates are going to go away, the lower rate’s going to go away, is virtually nil,” he said. “The reason it was important to signal that to businesses is we want them to make investment decisions with certainty.

McConnell also pushed back against talk that the bill will add $1.5 trillion to the national deficit over a 10-year period.

That amount will be made up through modest economic improvement, he said, calling the 0.4 percent projected in the budget “a very conservative estimate of what kind of growth you would get out of this kind of tax structure over 10 years.”

“I not only don’t think it will increase the deficit, I think it will be beyond revenue neutral,” McConnell said. “In other words, I think it will produce more than enough to fill that gap, and I’m not one of the total-supply-siders who just believes that if you cut taxes no matter what amount, you turn out ahead.”

He further criticized Democratic senators who said they didn’t have time to read the nearly 500-page bill when it was delivered to them Friday evening, complete with hand-written amendments in the margins of the bill.

He called their complaints “one of their more ridiculous claims.”

“We had multiple, multiple hearings,” McConnell said. “The Democrats were there. They had an amendment process in committee. The Democrats offered tons of amendments. Sure, there were changes as we moved along, but the core of the bill, everybody was familiar with.”

“The swan song last night in the middle of the night that someone they hadn’t had a chance to read it, it was ridiculous because there were relatively minor changes to a core bill that everybody had had out for two weeks and that they had participated in hearings and markups on,” he said.

Kentucky Democrats panned the tax reform legislation. Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Ben Self said the proposal “adds over $1 trillion to the national debt, paid for off the backs of Kentucky’s working families who are already struggling for relief” and that Democrats will capitalize on that during the 2018 midterms.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville called the Senate bill a “scam.”

“There is nothing remotely responsible about forcing through a closed-door, hastily conceived bill to give tax cuts to the already wealthy and multi-national corporations,” Yarmuth said in a statement.

“There is nothing American or responsible about increasing our deficit by a trillion dollars, jeopardizing the future of Medicare and Medicaid, or forcing working families to pay more for healthcare, homeownership, and higher education. With all but one GOP Senator supporting Trump’s tax scam, the myth of Republican fiscal responsibility died today.”


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