In a surprising reversal that President Donald Trump will undoubtedly tout as a major victory, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has publicly confirmed that he will be voting ‘Yes’ on the GOP tax plan when the senate votes on it later this week.
Paul says he will vote ‘yes’ even though the tax overhaul “isn’t perfect” and he’d like to see a larger cut. In an opinion piece published on Fox News’s website, Paul explained the reasoning behind his change of heart in greater detail.
Ultimately, Paul said, he is voting ‘yes’ because the US tax code, which has 97 different federal taxes, must be simplified. Congress can always authorize more cuts at a later date. In fact, Paul says if the public will is strong enough, Congress could authorize a new tax cut every year.
Currently, there are at least 97 different federal taxes. The tax code that instructs people how they must hand over their hard-earned money to government spans some 74,000-plus pages.
This is absurd, and so is the fact that government will collect over $3 trillion from taxpayers next year but still is not satisfied.
One of the main differences between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans, in general, favor less government and more tax cuts. That’s why I’m pleased to see us moving forward on a plan for tax cuts, and why I hope to vote to pass such a cut in the coming weeks.
Paul said he supports the Senate proposal to end Obamacare’s individual mandate penalizing people who don’t have health insurance, and that he would like to see preservation of some state and local tax deductions.
He also applauded his fellow senators for abandoning the concept of revenue neutrality, saying he’d like to see the tax cuts eliminate even more than the $1.5 trillion in revenues expected over the next 10 years, according to an analysis by the CBO. Paul said he’d be comfortable with a reduction in revenue of up to $2.5 trillion.
I spoke out all year against the GOP leaders’ initial plan to make their tax reform “revenue neutral” — meaning not really a cut. I’m pleased to see my point of view has prevailed, and the current tax plan calls for a $1.5 trillion cut over the next ten years. I would have liked to see more — in fact, I offered an amendment to move it up to $2.5 trillion — but I’ve stated many times that as long as it is a real cut, I’ll vote for it, even if it isn’t as large as I would prefer.
I’m also pleased to note that, in part by my urging, the Senate tax-plan writers have included repeal of the ObamaCare individual mandate in the tax plan. The mandate is clearly a tax, a fact that was established by the Supreme Court when it upheld ObamaCare. So including it in the tax bill only makes sense. In addition, with CBO scoring it as a $350 billion savings, repealing the mandate helped pave the way for increased middle-class tax cuts, like an expanded child tax credit.
Winning Paul's vote has been a top priority of President Trump, who has often expressed admiration for the Kentucky senator even though Paul has, until this point, been one of the most obstinate opponents of the Trump agenda.
However, his support doesn’t guarantee passage for the tax plan: At least five other senators have either said they’re not voting for the bill, or that they’re on the fence. However, Fox News is reporting that a deal is in the works to add more deductions to the bill to help win over Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who said two weeks ago that he would vote 'no' on the bill. However, Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain remain on the fence. And while Montana's Steve Daines has raised hackles about the bill because, he says, it favors corporations over small businesses, he recently touted a "productive" conversation with Trump, and appears to be leaning toward a yes.
We now await Trump’s congratulatory response to Paul’s decision. It should be coming any minute now.
GOP leadership says they will bring the bill to a vote on Thursday. But of course, if they fail to rally support from Republican holdouts, that could change.