Rand Paul to 'likely support' GOP tax bill, aide says

Frederick Owens
November 21, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump would not object to removing a provision in a Senate Republican tax plan that would repeal the Obamacare mandate if it "becomes an impediment", White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday.

Mulvaney noted that obviously less Americans would be covered by health insurance if no longer required to purchase it.

On CBS's "Face the Nation", Mulvaney said the White House "would love to see Obamacare taken apart all at once, bit by bit, however we can do it", but that if the mandate repeal "needs to come out in order for that good tax bill to pass, we can live with that as well". "If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can we're okay with taking it out". It was too soon to say whether eliminating the repeal of the so-called individual mandate would increase the bill's chances of passing. "We absolutely want to do it", Mulvaney said Sunday. Collins said Sunday that the issue should be dealt with separately.

On State of the Union, Collins stated flatly that "I don't think that provision should be in the bill". Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform United States sugar program A bipartisan bridge opens between the House and Senate Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law MORE (R-Maine) to vote against Senate Republicans' tax reform proposal. He campaigned for president previous year on a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, but Congress has not agreed so far on how to do that.

And Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told "Fox News Sunday" that the administration's current objective is to keep the mandate's repeal in the bill.

"The president thinks we should get rid of it". "We are going to work with the Senate as we go through this".

"The bottom line is that the president is not going to sign a bill that raises taxes on the middle classes".

A nonpartisan analysis says the Senate tax overhaul bill would produce tax increases for half of all taxpayers by 2027. Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, consider a tax bill critical to their party's prospects in the 2018 USA congressional elections.

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Collins also defended the tax proposal against the Democrats' criticism of it as a giveaway to the wealthy.

Legislative director Marc Short said Sunday that the White House "is very comfortable with the House bill", which does not include the individual mandate.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes on the bill.

The provision would repeal a requirement that everyone have health insurance or pay a fine.

With the individual mandate repealed in the tax bill, his aide told CNN, Paul is leaning toward supporting the bill. "It depends on where the votes are", he told NBC's "Meet the Press".

Collins did not say how she would vote on the bill.

Collins said she also wants to keep the top individual income-tax rate at the current 39.6 percent and that the state and local tax deduction, targeted for elimination in the Senate bill, should be continued. The corporate tax does not need to be cut so steeply to 20 percent, Collins said.

Striking the health care provision would blow a big hole in the senators' tax cut plan, leaving them $338 billion short of their revenue goal over the next 10 years. Collins has emerged as a pivotal lawmaker in the tax debate, along with Republican Senators John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Ron Johnson, all of whom are also on the fence or oppose the bill.

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