In a political nail-biter, the GOP finally passed their tax reform bill in the Senate — thanks in large part to a number of late-entrance amendments and lofty promises. But once Vice President Mike Pence provided the tie-breaking vote, the Republican party moved quickly to the next stage: reconciliation.
And that’s when a number of wavering senators learned that the last-minute offers they received in exchange for their votes were about as long-lasting as President Donald Trump’s breaks from Twitter.
It took a variety of sweeteners to finally get skeptical GOP senators on board with the tax reform bill. But the reconciliation process is stripping a number of those amendments out of the final bill, leaving legislators wondering if there was any good faith in the negotiations at all.
Perhaps one of the most frustrated is Maine Senator Susan Collins. In order to get her vote, fellow Republicans included language that would supposedly add money to insurance pools for high-risk insurees still requiring coverage. The assumption was that plan costs would increase dramatically after eliminating the individual mandate requiring all people to have health insurance.
“Collins added two amendments to the legislation that passed the Senate last week, one of which would allow taxpayers to deduct property taxes from their annual federal filings, restoring a provision of the House bill that the Senate took out,” the Hill reported. “Another provision added by Collins would lower the threshold for tax deductions for medical expenses.”
Now, Republican leaders are backtracking on their vow.
“Collins voted for the Senate’s tax reform legislation after Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, promised to support legislation to prop up US health insurance markets,” reports Reuters. “But last week The Hill newspaper reported that House Speaker Paul Ryan told his staff that he wasn’t part of the deal that Collins brokered with Senate leaders.”
And Collins isn’t the only Republican senator to learn that agreements on the Senate floor may be totally disregarded come the committee’s final bill.
Fellow legislators promised Arizona Senator Jeff Flake that the bill wouldn’t stay in effect if it triggered too big of an increase in the national debt. They also assured Flake that the White House would push a legislative answer to reinstating or addressing DACA so that those who were brought into the US illegally as children could remain in the country rather than face deportation.
But Flake voted yes even after the GOP removed the debt trigger — and Republicans may very well shut down the government rather than allow movement on passing a new DREAM Act.
Of course, GOP senators didn’t just lie to each other — they lied to Americans, too. Besides promising that tax cuts would help the middle class and reduce most people’s taxes, they also claimed that the tax plan wouldn’t affect Medicaid, Social Security or Medicare.
In other words, they lied.
According to the Washington Post:
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) said Wednesday that congressional Republicans will aim next year to reduce spending on both federal health care and anti-poverty programs, citing the need to reduce America’s deficit. “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said during an appearance on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show. ‘”. Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”
In fact, given the Republican Party’s track record, there’s only one thing you can reliably believe about the GOP: You should never take them at their word.