When we laid out the key highlights of the Senate tax plan passed just before 2am on Saturday morning, we made one thing clear: nobody had read the massive 479-page bill which had several pages with handwritten revisions in the margin.
I was just handed a 479-page tax bill a few hours before the vote. One page literally has hand scribbled policy changes on it that can’t be read. This is Washington, D.C. at its worst. Montanans deserve so much better. pic.twitter.com/q6lTpXoXS0— Senator Jon Tester (@SenatorTester) December 2, 2017
Now, three days after the bill's passage and with tech stocks slumping around the globe after at least a few tax experts noticed "The Alternative Minimum Tax Bombshell", or the retention of the controversial corporate AMT clause which "imperils GOP promises of business growth and more hiring," republicans appear to have finally figured out that rushing to pass the biggest tax overhaul since Ronald Reagan in the deep of the night wasn't the best idea, and according to Bloomberg, the chief Senate tax writer - the person who put together the bill that was passed 51-49 in the first place - wants AMT repealed.
According to Bloomberg, in a stunning reversal, two influential GOP senators - Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, one of the chamber’s main tax writers, along with Senator Orrin Hatch, chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee - said their preference is to repeal the corporate AMT.
“I’m not a big AMT fan,” said Portman, who also wants to repeal the individual AMT. “I’d like to end up there, but we’ve got to do the back and forth with the House.” Hatch added: “I’d like to get rid of it.”
Well, it was your bill, and you added the AMT: how did that happen? We don't know - perhaps the Goldman Sachs ghostwriter of the tax bill was unaware of that one small detail and left it in. As previously discussed, in a last-minute change, the Senate bill preserved the corporate AMT at its current 20 percent rate, along with a modified version of the individual AMT. The House legislation repeals both levies.
The result has been a swift and sharp slide in tech stocks, which is probably what clued in the Senate that it is about time to read what they had actually passed.
Another GOP member, Senator David Perdue of Georgia, said he too would like to see the AMT eliminated for corporations and individuals by the House-Senate conference committee that’s expected to begin working out compromise legislation this week.
Of course, the simplest reason for keeping the AMT is because the bill would not stay under the $1.5 trillion deficit-boosting threshold if it has been eliminated:
“We couldn’t go all the way because we needed the revenue,” Perdue said, referring to the corporate AMT. Repealing it would have cost about $40 billion over a decade -- which shows just how close tax writers were to hitting the $1.5 trillion deficit limit set by their budget resolution. Perdue added that his top priority is setting the corporate rate at 20 percent.
President Donald Trump endorsed the work of the conference committee early Tuesday afternoon, calling the panel a “mixer,” where lawmakers will pick the good things and get rid of the things they don’t like. The result will be “something that is perfecto,” Trump said.
Maybe not. As Bloomberg concludes, opinion polls suggest a majority of voters aren’t happy with what they’ve seen, with 53% of U.S. voters disapproving of the Republican overhaul plan, and 64% say it favors the wealthy, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. Well, maybe not the wealthy, but it certainly favors corporations at the expense of America's middle class.