Trump, Senate GOP scramble to change tax plan to gain votes

Washington: President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans scrambled today to make changes to a Republican tax bill in an effort to win over holdout GOP senators and pass a tax package by the end of the year.

In a morning tweet, the president said, “With just a few changes, some mathematical, the middle class and job producers can get even more in actual dollars and savings.”

Trump and Senate leaders are trying to balance competing demands, as some senators fear the package would add to the nation’s mounting debt, while others want more generous tax breaks for businesses. In a boost for the legislation, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said he would back the measure.

Trump hosted Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee at the White House today.

Afterward, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said the plan is to vote on the current tax bill this week, then work out the differences between the Senate bill and one passed by the House earlier this month.

“We think the Senate bill made some substantial improvements over the House bill but we’ll work through those when we get to a conference committee with the House,” Cornyn told reporters.

But as of today, GOP leaders were still trying to round up the votes in the Senate to pass the bill.

“We always have to deal with everybody. It’s not any one particular person,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Finance Committee. “These are tough times, these are tough issues, they’re hard to deal with and we’ve had to deal with them.”

Trump suggested he is open to making unspecified changes to the way millions of “pass-through” businesses are taxed, a sticking point for some lawmakers. These are businesses in which profits are passed onto the owners, who report the income on their individual tax returns. The vast majority of US businesses, big and small, are taxed this way.

Sen Ron Johnson, R-Wis, has already declared his opposition to the current bill, saying it doesn’t cut business taxes enough for these types of partnerships and corporations. Johnson gets substantial income from such companies, including a manufacturer he helped found in Wisconsin and a commercial real estate company, according to his financial disclosure statements.