Fri, Dec 22, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Trump celebrates tax reform amid worries of backlash

FALLOUT:Despite failing to halt the bill, Democrats were upbeat about its possible effects on next year’s elections, in which they could retake control of both chambers

AP, WASHINGTON

A triumphant US President Donald Trump and jubilant fellow US Republicans on Wednesday celebrated the passage of their US$1.5 trillion tax overhaul as a “historic victory for the American people.”

However, Americans will need some convincing.

As Trump and Republican lawmakers gathered at the White House to cheer their first major legislative achievement — and the biggest tax changes in a generation — some warned that the party could face a painful political backlash against an overhaul that offers corporations and wealthy taxpayers the biggest benefits, and was projected to trigger the loss of healthcare coverage for millions of Americans.

However, there was no hint of anxiety at the White House as the president and congressional Republicans pushed any qualms aside and reveled in a much-needed win at the end of a year marked by infighting and political stumbles.

“We are making America great again,” Trump said, personally thanking his “little team” of US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, before lawmakers lavished praise upon a president they have often openly criticized.

“I don’t know if we’ll have bigger moments, but we hope to,” Trump said.

The president was expected to sign the bill at a later date for technical reasons.

In fact, the signing might be postponed until the start of the new calendar year in order to delay US$120 billion in automatic cuts to popular programs such as Medicare and spare Republicans from having to explain them in an election year.

The tax package provides a deep cut in the corporate rate, from 35 percent to 21 percent.

On the individual side, about 80 percent of US households will get tax cuts next year, while about 5 percent will pay more, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said.

The cuts will come at a price: The Congressional Budget Office predicted that the legislation would add US$1.4 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

Some of the president’s strongest allies conceded that voters might not immediately warm to the new law.

Andy Surabian, a senior aide for a pro-Trump super political action committee, likened the president’s position to that of former US president Ronald Reagan, who struggled through low approval ratings early in his presidential term after US Congress passed a tax cut that led to huge Republican losses in the 1982 midterm elections.

Reagan went on to a sweeping re-election in 1984 after the economy improved.

Republican strategists and candidates alike called on Trump to launch an immediate public relations tour to sell the plan to help avert an anti-Republican tsunami next year.

Only about one in three voters have supported the legislation, according to several polls.

The White House on Wednesday said that Trump would actively promote the bill.

Aides argued that media coverage has not accurately portrayed the benefits and that people will come around as they feel the payoff.

Trump himself complained in a tweet that “defeated Dems” and the media were out to “demean” the tax package, but “the results will speak for themselves, starting very soon.”

US Democrats, who unanimously opposed the tax plan in Congress, were furious about the new policy, yet upbeat about the potential political fallout in next year’s elections.

They need to flip 24 House seats and just two Senate seats to take control of each chamber.

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