These 8 Republican Senators Have Serious Reservations About Tax Reform

As we’ve repeatedly pointed out, Mitch McConnell’s push to force tax reform through the senate is facing opposition from several disparate groups of senators, each of which is demanding its own set of changes.

Concerns primarily center on the taxation of partnerships, limited liabilities and other companies; on the overall cost of the tax bill itself; and on a familiar GOP stumbling block - Obamacare.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah said Monday. “This is going to be a tough, tough time.”

Since Republicans are facing unanimous opposition from Democrats, they can only afford to lose two Republican votes to pass the legislation with a tie-breaking vote from Mike Pence. Earlier this month, Republicans passed budget bills in the House and Senate that unlocked a special provision to circumvent a Democratic filibuster.

However, at last count, a grand total of eight Republican senators had expressed serious reservations about the tax plan in its current form. In fact, two senators, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson and Montana’s Steve Daines, have said they’re outright ‘nos’.

Here’s a roundup of the holdouts and their specific objections, per Bloomberg:

Bob Corker, Jeff Flake and James Lankford:

"Corker, the retiring Tennessee Republican has staked a hard line against letting tax legislation add to federal deficits - saying that a single penny of new deficits would lose his vote. It turns out the Senate bill would add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years - at least before accounting for any economic growth - according to a Congressional Budget Office report released Sunday.


The bill’s supporters say it’ll boost economic growth enough to cover that shortfall, but Corker says he’s not satisfied. He wants a backstop mechanism - essentially a tax-increase trigger that would raise revenue in case the promised growth doesn’t result. Arizona’s Flake and Oklahoma’s Lankford also support that kind of trigger.


“Every economist is guessing,” Lankford said on Monday. “We should build in the ‘what if’ - what if this doesn’t work?’ If the revenue is not coming in, should the rates change?”


Corker is a member of the Senate Budget Committee, which meets Tuesday afternoon to decide whether to send the tax bill to the Senate floor. Republicans have a one-vote margin on the panel and cannot afford any defections.


Corker said Monday he may vote no if tax writers - who he said would be working overnight on a provision - can’t provide enough deficit safeguards."

Ron Johnson and Steve Daines:

Johnson became the first Republican senator to come out against the bill, and his vote remains up in the air. His concern? The legislation gives an advantage to large corporations at the expense of “pass-through” businesses, like the plastics company he used to run before his election to the Senate in 2010.


The Wisconsin senator is also a member of the Budget Committee, and he too wants his concern addressed by the time it meets. “I’m not exactly sure what’s going to happen in committee, and we’re working diligently to fix the problem,” he told reporters Monday. “If we develop a fix prior to committee, I’ll probably support it but if we don’t, I’ll vote against it.”


The Senate bill cuts the corporate rate to 20 percent, while creating a special deduction for business income from pass-through entities that would leave many owners paying an effective top rate of more than 30 percent.


Johnson wants to give those owners a larger deduction, and he said many have called to encourage him to stand firm.


Daines, a Montana Republican, joined Johnson Monday in opposing the bill as written, and for the same reason. An aide said Daines remains optimistic the legislation will change enough to win his vote.


A deal had yet to emerge Monday night. “We’re still negotiating; let’s put it that way,” said South Dakota Senator John Thune, the chamber’s third-ranking Republican leader, after an evening meeting of the Finance panel.

Susan Collins:

The moderate from Maine is the only Republican senator from a reliably Democratic-leaning state, and as such she’s always a difficult vote for party leaders. While Collins was initially warm to the tax bill, she has turned sour after party leaders opted to add repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate to help limit deficits.


Collins said it’s a mistake to ax the mandate in tax legislation, fearing that it’ll cause healthy people to drop their coverage and drive premiums higher for others - the same reason she cast a pivotal vote to block an Obamacare repeal bill in July. “I hope that will be dropped,” she said recently.


But eliminating the mandate is estimated to save the federal government more than $300 billion over 10 years - savings that would result from less demand for federal health-coverage subsidies. Some GOP leaders dispute that estimate, even though their tax bill depends on it to stay within budget rules.

John McCain:

Nobody is taking McCain’s vote for granted after he shocked the political world by voting against a rushed attempt to demolish the Affordable Care Act this summer.


He then delivered a speech demanding the Senate return to regular order - hearings, markups, bipartisan input and amendments - for passing major bills. So far, McCain has been warm to the GOP Senate’s tax effort, but he hasn’t taken an official position on the legislation.


McCain has a mixed record on tax cuts, voting against measures in 2001 and 2003. The top legislative priority of the Arizona Republican, who is 81 and fighting brain cancer, is to boost military spending. His vote on the tax bill could be in peril if he believes the $1.4 trillion in new deficits would put downward pressure on Pentagon funding.

Jerry Moran:

The Kansas Republican is sensitive about the impacts of the bill in the wake of his state’s failed tax-cut experiment that lawmakers there ended this year to escape a fiscal crisis.


“I’m also cognizant of what people saw happen in Kansas,” Moran told constituents over Thanksgiving weekend, as quoted by the Topeka Capital-Journal. “The issue of tax cuts would be easier if you actually had faith that


Congress would hold the line on spending. It’s two components. It’s how much revenue you take in and how much money you continue to spend.”


Overall, Moran remained circumspect about the legislation, saying the goal must be to find tax cuts that grow the economy without raising the debt.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump late last night praised Senator Rand Paul for publicly announcing that he would support the tax plan despite reservations that the cuts weren’t deep enough (meanwhile, deficit hawks like Bob Corker are hoping to limit cuts to make the bill revenue neutral).

So far, Paul has been one of the administration’s most obstinate opponents. However, Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for the Kentucky senator, and had earlier vowed to win his support for tax reform. Of course, Paul’s support won’t necessarily guarantee passage – far from it. But it’s a small victory, and at this point, even small victories are cause for celebration.




Son of Captain Nemo Tue, 11/28/2017 - 08:34 Permalink

“It’s not going to be easy..."

Any Senator or Congressman after stealing $700 billion from the American people 2008!

Ask yourself the question, why didn't I string this guy up from a lamp post 10 years ago?!!!

NickyGall Tue, 11/28/2017 - 08:33 Permalink

Here is an article that looks at the economic impact of lowering America’s headline corporate tax rate:                                                     
/* Style Definitions */
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While Corporate America loves to tout the advantages of a lower headline statutory corporate tax rate, this analysis shows that the economy will gain very little at the cost of much-reduced tax revenues.

Gobble D. Goop Tue, 11/28/2017 - 08:41 Permalink

"Since Republicans are facing unanimous opposition from Democrats, they can only afford to lose two Republican votes to pass the legislation"A perfect opportunity to grandstand without putting thier asses on a chopping block.  Just like obummercare.

Tetres Tue, 11/28/2017 - 08:43 Permalink

Last time the GOP cut taxes (Bush-Jr.) and gave a massive repatriation forgiveness Ponzi scheme in the name of creating jobs; US corporations thereafter spent 94% of repatriated $$ buying back stock/giving dividends; and that started a massive 19-million decent paying jobs outsourcing of these US jobs; they lied then and they are lying now...with record cash levels and profits if they were going to hire they would already have done so...what they are not telling the masses is that they have engineered their financial earnings and there is no real demand for their services and products as Americans are once again forced to take on more & more debt just to tread economic water (just keep their heads above water) when they tire many consumers will drown!  TAX cuts = Increased deficits its crazy: it's a massive Ponzi scheme where elite/corps. reap huge benefits working class gets screwed & deficit expands by $1.5-$2.0-tril dollars! To take on more debt, to give tax breaks is a STUPID ass-clown syndrome promoted by TRUMP & Repubs.TRUMP promised to release his taxes; so we can see how the new tax cuts will benefit him his family, As he promised; then again when can he be accused of telling the truth...the tax cut-bill is a PONZI scheme to benefit the wealthy/elite/, screwing the deficit and working class!

Ricki13th Tetres Tue, 11/28/2017 - 09:53 Permalink

Exactly! This whole tax reform thing is a huge lie just like the half-ass attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. Jobs aren't coming back because corporations are still on money and has yet to invest it in the middle class. Instead, they are moving on to automation and robotics and tax-cuts will only speed up this process. In 2018, we will see a market crash and the dollar tank as inflation (that has been rising) comes into the picture, while interest rates soar, many companies will go bankrupt just like 2008. But this time on a larger scale leaving only mega-corporations like Amazon, Google, Apple as the ones standing.

In reply to by Tetres

Rex Andrus Tetres Tue, 11/28/2017 - 14:10 Permalink

That's right. He only wants to live in a decent country and he wants his kids to enjoy the same. He knows that as a nation we all go together, #1 or bathhouse bitch. He put his very, very, very, very, very, very, very good life on the line to make this happen, for all of us. What a selfish bastard!

In reply to by Tetres

incharge1976 Tetres Tue, 11/28/2017 - 09:47 Permalink

Yeah, because pissing off half the population is a sure way to make your brand worth more. Lets be clear. Trump decided to run and go all in once they roasted him at a dinner. He had enough of the asses. He doesn't give two shits about his image as it pertains to the MSM or the left. If he did, he wouldn't be doing the things he is doing. Only a complete idiot thinks he only cares about himself. 

In reply to by Tetres

Lord Raglan Tetres Tue, 11/28/2017 - 10:50 Permalink

yea, let's obcess on how the bill affects Trump and not the country you dumb ass............get a grip on your envy of others.................the fact is that people like you grumbling about Trump's tax returns wouldn't fucking read them if they were released probably don't know how to read a tax return..............with out of control Muller and a Marxist media out to impeach him, I wouldn't release them EVER if I were him....................

In reply to by Tetres

small axe Tue, 11/28/2017 - 08:53 Permalink

it's not going to be easy to screw the American taxpayer? Of course it is. Be creative.why these politicians even exist is the larger question.

Stan522 Tue, 11/28/2017 - 09:07 Permalink

During the eight years of obama and the doubling of our national debt to nearly 20 trillion, where were these politicians as they continued to vote for budgets......? 

Rex Andrus Tue, 11/28/2017 - 14:08 Permalink

If the LEOs prosecute every thief, whore and rapist in DC it will be very easy. There might be 20 members of congress and 3 SCJs left. K and J streets will be ghost towns.

BendGuyhere Tue, 11/28/2017 - 09:39 Permalink

Heaven Forbid that these uppity TAX CATTLE should get off SO EASILY.Their very existence is predicated on producing the 35% that we, THE ELITE OF THE SENATE, skim off the top to sustain our enlightened GRAVY TRAIN.We are hereditary, dynastic, and BRUTAL.The Senate SPITS on democracy-what a sick joke.Come, all you obese tatooed losers and fools, 'vote' one more time for McSongbird, or Miss Lindsey, or SnakeEyes Schumer.