President Trump’s goals to massively overhaul the tax burden, control the economy and fulfill campaign promises took a bold and decisive step yesterday. The Senate narrowly passed a vote to begin the overhaul of the American tax system by 51 votes to 49 on a plan that seeks to cut away over $4 trillion from the burden.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the moves if fully implemented, would, over the next ten years, cut spending by more than $5 trillion with an average of $540 billion per year.
Should President Trump go ahead, this could be one of the largest and most comprehensive reforms ever undertaken.
Before the vote, the president appeared keen, but doubtful, that it would pass. He Tweeted:
Republicans are going for the big Budget approval today, first step toward massive tax cuts. I think we have the votes, but who knows?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2017
Upon passing, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell said:
“Tonight we completed the first step towards replacing our broken tax code by passing a comprehensive, fiscally responsible budget that will help put the federal government on a path to balance.”
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to replace a failing tax code that holds Americans back with one that works for them.”
By using the Budget Reconciliation process, lawmakers were able to avoid a filibuster and remove the need for a 60 vote majority. While Republicans may come under fire for using this method, the fact that it has been used more than 20 times since 1980 (its inception) by both Democrats and the GOP will make it hard to argue against.
McConnell’s Senate partner, Rand Paul, was the only Republican to vote against the budget, citing that he couldn’t vote for a budget that ignored spending caps:
“We can’t spend our way to prosperity,” he said. “I will fight for the biggest, boldest tax cut we can pass, but I could not in good conscience vote for a budget that ignores spending caps that have been the law of the land for years and simply pretend it didn’t matter.”
All of the 46 Democrat Senators voted against the measures, as did the two sitting independents.
The largest criticisms came from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who suggested that the cuts would remove the burden from the wealthier in society and place it back onto the middle classes. After describing the proposal as “nasty,” he said:
“I think it will go down in history as one of the worst budgets Congress has ever passed.”
People on both sides have described this budget as the “firing pistol” on the 2018 elections. When voters go to the polls, they will be asking themselves what the major moves of the administration have been and how well Representatives and Senators have worked to achieve the much-desired change.
Despite the incessant reminders of how low President Trump’s approval ratings have been since he began his term, what is often overlooked is how low the opinion of both Houses is among the voting public. They have finally been asked to nail their flags to a mast and choose sides.