Speed Reads

GOP tax plan

Last-minute changes to the Senate GOP tax bill will mostly help the wealthy, and probably Trump

Republican leaders are hustling to win over a handful of GOP senators who have said or suggested they would vote no this week on the GOP's top-priority tax overhaul if their various concerns aren't met, and the most likely changes will benefit wealthy Americans, already the biggest winners in the legislation, according to official congressional analyses. Republicans can't lose more than two votes.

The only two Republicans who have said they will vote no if the bill doesn't change, Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Steve Daines (Mont.), want more generous cuts for pass-through entities, a broad category of businesses where income is taxed at individual rates not the corporate rate. Johnson sits on the Senate Budget Committee, and if he votes no in committee on Tuesday, the bill won't advance without procedural machinations.

Pass-throughs "can range from single-employee small businesses to the Trump Organization," Politico says, and The Washington Post notes that President Trump has financial stakes in hundreds of pass-throughs, not just the Trump Organization. Johnson also has a personal stake in several pass-through businesses. Trump and Johnson say they will not personally benefit from the tax bill, without explaining why not. While many small businesses are pass-throughs, 70 percent of pass-through income goes to the top 1 percent of earners, according to Owen Zidar at the University of Chicago.

Other senators expressing concerns about the bill include a handful of deficit hawks, and some of them, like Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and James Langford (Okla.), say they want the bill to include a provision to raise taxes if the tax cuts aren't offset by economic growth. A new analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that any growth from the tax cuts would be modest, and even if the GOP's unrealistically optimistic growth targets were met, that would make up for little more than half of the $1.4 trillion in deficit spending.