Republican tax bill is ‘government for sale’, say Democrats

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Democrats have labelled the Republican tax bill “government for sale” as Congress sent the historic measure to the president’s desk.

Donald Trump is expected to sign his first major legislative achievement – the biggest rewrite of the US tax code in a generation – in the coming days.

The bill slashes taxes for corporations and the wealthy, while offering mixed, temporary relief to working people.

Prominent Democrat Elizabeth Warren said: “It’s a heist.”

But President Trump, hosting Republican leaders at the White House, said: “We are making America great again.”

He thanked congressional leaders for pushing through what he called “the largest tax cut in the history of our country”.

House Speaker Paul Ryan praised Mr Trump’s “exquisite presidential leadership” for the success of the bill.

Earlier, in a statement, Mr Trump said: “I promised the American people a big, beautiful tax cut for Christmas. With final passage of this legislation, that is exactly what they are getting.”

Because of a procedural glitch, the bill had to be voted on for a second time in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives. It passed 224 to 201 on Wednesday afternoon.

Democrats say that error was caused by Republicans rushing the most sweeping overhaul of the tax system since 1986 through Congress.

In an often secretive process, no public hearings were held and multiple last-minute amendments that were pushed by lobbyists cropped up in the final version.

The unpopular bill is likely to be a major issue during next year’s mid-term congressional elections.

Fifty-two per cent of adults said they opposed the tax plan, while only 27% supported it, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Who wins and who loses?

Non-partisan analysts say the greatest beneficiaries of the package will be the super-wealthy, multinational corporations and the commercial property industry.

In the immediate future, the plan will see the vast majority of taxpayers having lower tax bills, but those cuts expire in 2025.

By 2027, the Tax Policy Center estimates the overall change would be negligible.

And 53% of taxpayers would face higher bills, many of them in the lower income

brackets.

The bill is projected to add $1.5tn (£1.1tn) over the next decade to the $20tn US debt, which Mr Trump promised last year he would eliminate.

But Republicans argue it will boost economic growth.

The legislation reaches beyond fiscal matters to tick off a wish list of conservative priorities.

It strikes a serious blow to Obamacare, scrapping the fine levied on Americans who do not buy health insurance.

The Congressional Budget Office says this will increase premiums for people who have medical coverage.

The bill also opens Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, a major defeat for environmentalists.

bbc.com

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