Following the Tax Plan issue and beyond

Friday, December 8, 2017

In the early hours of Saturday, Dec. 2 at approximately 2 a.m., the United States Senate pushed through their version of the tax bill--the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

While the House Bill was passed Nov. 16, the Tax Plan is not a done deal. Because the two bills are so different, the bills must go through a conference committee in which representatives from both chambers will negotiate the two bills into a final version. Monday night, the House of Representatives voted to go to conference committee on the tax bill.

Afterward, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) announced the representatives who would serve on the committee: Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Devin Nunes (R-California), Peter Roskam and John Shimkus (R-Illinois), Diane Black (R-Tennessee), Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota), Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Don Young (R-Alaska), Greg Walden (R-Oregon), Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), Sander Levin (D-Michigan), Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona) and Kathy Castor (D-Florida). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel will add conferees to this list.

This conference committee will have to agree on a final tax bill, deciding which differing stances of the two bills will remain in the final version. While the Senate bill repeals the individual mandate on health insurance, keeps the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and sunsets tax cuts for individuals, the House bill kept the individual mandate, repealed the AMT and made the individual tax cuts permanent. Once these, and many other differences, are compromised, the committee will have to make sure the bill meets special Senate rules for bills to pass with only 51 votes in the senate, one of these rules being that the bill cannot add to the deficit after 10 years.

The tax plan is receiving 24/7 news coverage, bombarding Americans with by-the-minute developments about a bill that has not had the most transparent process. The bill is constantly going through changes, and will continue to change until a final bill is created by the committee and sent to a vote in the House and the Senate during the week of Dec. 18. This can make it difficult for people to obtain timely information on the current state of the tax plan, much less decipher how it will affect them.

Then, after understanding, there is the issue of acting.

Whether a citizen identifies as a republican or democrat does not indebt them to blindly support efforts by their party, and it will not ensure that the final tax bill, passed at the national level, will work for them as a citizen of Greene--or any--County.

This Dec. 2 article from Business Insider summarizes the provisions of the 479-page-long tax bill. ( http://read.bi/2AoKzg1 )

Even fierce Trump supporter, Coal CEO Robert Murray, who was featured in a John Oliver segment on Coal, voiced opposition to the Senate bill for its potential to raise taxes on coal mining firms and other capital-intensive companies. Though he demands changes to the bill to avoid these hikes, his sentiment does not translate to opposition to the president. Patriotism is not blind loyalty, but rather cooperation and participation in government.

It is our civic duty to educate ourselves, learn what will help or hurt us, and to reach out to Gov. Eric Holcomb with our thoughts so that his decision to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will accurately reflect the will of his constituents.