President Donald J Trump likes nothing better than winning, and he has just had the first major legislative win of his presidency. An enormous $1.4 trillion tax cut has now been passed by the Senate.
No Democrat voted for the bill, yet still it passed by 51 to 49 votes. This avoided the anticipated legislative deadlock that would have meant Vice President Mike Pence having to break a 50-50 tie. The bill will now be voted on in the House of Representatives on Monday, where the Republicans have a much larger majority.
By getting his tax cut through Congress, Trump answers one of the most stinging critiques of his presidency so far — that he hasn’t actually achieved anything. Now it appears that he has.
The tax cut is also the first piece of Trump-era legislation that has truly brought together the Republican establishment and the President. Republicans love cutting taxes. So does Donald J Trump. Now they have done it together. Establishment Republicans who have grave doubts about Trump — and many do — can now console themselves that with his leadership they have achieved one of the party’s chief objectives, namely to lower the fiscal burden. ‘This is a great day for the country,’ as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put it. It is certainly a good one for his party in Washington.
The bill is not at all popular with much of Trump’s populist base, however, who like most Democrats will see yet another piece of ‘swamp’ legislation that benefits the rich and hurts almost everyone else.
Americans are generally supportive of taxing businesses less, but the middle and lower classes fear the reform will make life harder for them. The bill also removes a lot of tax benefits that Americans depend on. Mortgage income deductions have been removed, meaning many Americans will have to pay a lot more on the cost of their home, and the bill wipes out other fiscal breaks for those struggling on child tax credits, Medicaid and Medicare. In other words, this bill will in the short term at least upset a lot of poor people, including a lot of poor people who voted for the President.
Trump will have to hope that the economists who support him are right, and that the tax reform will fire up the American economy quickly enough to ease the pain before the mid-term elections next year. Or he and the Republican Party could find themselves slashed at the ballot.