Taxpayers Anticipating a Special Christmas Present from Uncle Sam

In Congress it’s all about agreeing on the House-Senate tax cut compromise between now and the Christmas break so President Trump can sign the bill into law and legalize the cuts for the 2017 tax year.

Here are some details from The Hill of the agreement reached on the bill, which could be voted on next week, giving American taxpayers a Christmas gift:

Reduces top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent; reduces corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and sets deduction for pass-through businesses at 20 percent, which, combined with a lower top rate for individuals, yields an effective top tax rate of 29.6 percent; repeals the corporate alternative minimum tax;

Caps the mortgage interest deduction at $750,000, midway between the House’s suggested $500,000 and the Senate’s suggested $1 million; doubles estate tax exemption; preserves the deduction for medical expenses, setting the floor at 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income for two years;

Preserves the tax exclusion for tuition waivers received by grad students and preserves the deduction for student loan interest; raises the exemption for the personal alternative minimum tax to $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for families; eliminates the penalty for not having health insurance, effectively eliminating Obamacare’s individual mandate; opens the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy exploration.

“We want to take more money out of Washington’s pocket and put more money into the pockets of the middle class,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tweeted. “I’m confident the conference committee will finalize a bill that does just that.”

According to the Hill, Republicans have struck an agreement on the bill that, if passed, would be the first major piece of legislation signed by President Trump. Senate Republican leaders shared details with members of their conference at a mid-week lunch.

At week’s end, however, there are concerns over the absence due to ailments of two Republican senators should Arizona Sen. John McCain and Mississippi’s Thad Cochran not be able to attend the session to vote, the number of Republicans theoretically in favor would be an even 50, with 48 likely opponents according to Roll Call.

GOP leaders seek an initial procedural vote on Monday, a final Senate vote Tuesday, and then send the measure to the House for final passage. “I’m confident we’ll pass the bill next week,” Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said.


NAM Is Asked About Climate Change

National Association of Manufacturers (Clark 11/19) “National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Ross Eisenberg testified this week during a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on reducing air emissions. The hearing, titled ‘Promoting American Leadership in Reducing Air Emissions Through Innovation,’ also included testimony from the BlueGreen Alliance and the University of Wyoming.

“In one particular exchange, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) asked Eisenberg: ‘Could you tell me what the position is of the National Association of Manufacturers on climate change?'”

The video and text can be found here.

FCC Ends Obama-era Government Regulation of Web Providers, Allows Market Forces to Work

Bloomberg (Shields, Brody 12/14) “The U.S. Federal Communications Commission swept aside rules barring broadband providers from favoring the internet traffic of websites willing to pay for speedier service, sending the future of net neutrality on to a likely court challenge. The Republican-led commission voted 3-to-2 on Thursday to remove Obama-era prohibitions on blocking web traffic, slowing it or demanding payment for faster passage via their networks … and handed enforcement to other agencies.

“The FCC’s action will ‘return the internet to a consumer-driven marketplace free of innovation-stifling regulations,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in remarks prepared before the agency’s vote. ‘It is time for us to restore internet freedom,’ said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was chosen by President Donald Trump to lead the agency, and who dissented when the FCC adopted the rules under Democratic leadership in 2015. ‘We are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for most of its existence.’

“Broadband providers said they have no plans for anti-competitive ‘fast lanes,’ since consumers demand unfettered web access. Much of the debate over net neutrality has revolved around this question of classification: whether Washington regulators can wield the kind of intrusive rulemaking that’s also used, for instance, to tell telephone providers when and where they can stop offering service. The FCC also abandoned the bulk of its oversight role, saying antitrust authorities and the Federal Trade Commission can monitor for anti-competitive practices.”