WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the first in more than 30 years, major changes to the U.S. tax code are on track to become law as early as the New Year.
The U.S. House approved the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Wednesday afternoon about 12 hours after the bill’s victory in the Senate.
No Democrats in either the U.S. Senate or U.S. House voted for the bill.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — the lone Democrat in West Virginia’s Congressional delegation — said his opposition to the $1.5 trillion plan was not political.
“It’s not a responsible way” was his assessment of the measure that passed out of the U.S. Senate before 1 a.m. Wednesday with a 51-48 vote.
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a supporter, said she believes West Virginians will see real savings from the tax plan.
“In terms of the acceptability and what people think about this, when we turn the year and people start to see their withholding go down, their take-home (pay) come up, they’re going to realize that we’ve had a real impact on their lives,” Capito said.
“I think this is good for West Virginians and I’m proud to have voted ‘yes.'”
Manchin did not dispute the likelihood of tax savings for many West Virginians — initially.
“I think there is going to benefit from the get-go which is what we call the ‘sugar high.'” It won’t last, he said during an appearance on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
From the U.S. House, 2nd District Congressman Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) challenged critics of the legislation, like Manchin.
“They don’t want to see a success. They don’t want to see Republicans succeed and so there’s some skepticism,” Mooney said. “I think when people start seeing their paychecks next year, their taxes go down — then they’ll believe it.”
The U.S. House had to take another vote on the tax bill early Wednesday afternoon due to changes made because of procedural rulings in the U.S. Senate.
The initial Tuesday U.S. House vote was 227-203 with support from Mooney, 1st District Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and 3rd District Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.), a U.S. Senate candidate.
As of Wednesday morning, it was not clear when President Donald Trump would sign the bill.
In general, the GOP Tax Cuts and Jobs Act conference report lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent effective next year, repealed the corporate alternative minimum tax and nearly doubled the standard tax deduction for individuals.
The top tax rate for individuals has been reduced from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, but those individual tax cuts are scheduled to expire in 2025.
Also, a 20 percent business income deduction is allowed for the first $315,000 in income from pass-through businesses in which profits are taxed at individual, not business rates.
The GOP plan limited state and local tax deductions to $10,000.
The measure preserved popular deductions like those for mortgage interest, charitable giving and student loans. Under the measure, the child tax credit doubled to $2,000 per child and is refundable up to $1,400 until incomes reach specified levels.
Included additionally in the tax reform plan is the repeal of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, a key component of the health care law, requiring health insurance coverage.
Capito said the step eliminates the tax penalty for no coverage.
The Congressional Budget Office had projected the repeal, which takes effect in 2019, could lead to 13 million fewer Americans being insured.
The higher costs associated with the health insurance repeal or possible increases to inflation with added debt would go beyond any future tax savings, Manchin predicted.
“It always seems to be that when you don’t have both sides working on it – Democrats and Republicans working for the sake of the country – you’re going to have a lot of little things that’ll creep up that have to be changed, repaired, amended, repealed, on and on and on,” he said.
“I’m in a position right now to try to help any way I possibly can to make a bill that I didn’t vote for, to make it the best I can make it. I’m going to do that.”