WH Open to Axing Health From Tax Bill 11/20 06:17
The White House says it's willing to strike a health-care provision from
Senate legislation to cut taxes and overhaul the tax code if the provision
becomes an impediment to passing one of President Donald Trump's top
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says it's willing to strike a health-care
provision from Senate legislation to cut taxes and overhaul the tax code if the
provision becomes an impediment to passing one of President Donald Trump's top
The provision would repeal a requirement that everyone in the U.S. have
health insurance or pay a fine, but has emerged as a major sticking point for
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, whose vote the White House needs.
Collins said Sunday that the issue should be dealt with separately.
Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said the White House is open to
scrapping the provision, which would repeal a key component of the Affordable
Care Act health law enacted by President Barack Obama. Trump had pressed for
the provision to be added to the bill, partly to show progress on the GOP goal
of undoing the health care law following Congress' failed attempts to repeal it
earlier this year.
"I don't think anybody doubts where the White House is on repealing and
replacing Obamacare. We absolutely want to do it," Mulvaney said Sunday. "If we
can repeal part of Obamacare as part of a tax bill and have a tax bill that is
still a good tax bill that can pass, that's great.
"If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we're
OK with taking it out," Mulvaney added.
Legislative director Marc Short said Sunday that the White House "is very
comfortable with the House bill," which does not include the so-called
individual mandate. But Short also said the White House views the mandate as a
tax and "we like the fact that the Senate has included it in its bill."
At issue is a provision to repeal the requirement that everyone in the U.S.
have health insurance or pay a fine. Eliminating the individual mandate would
add an estimated $338 billion in revenue over 10 years that Senate tax-writers
used for additional tax cuts.
Collins said Sunday that the tax advantage that some middle-income consumers
would reap under the tax bill could be wiped out by repealing the mandate. She
said they would face higher insurance premiums coupled with the loss of federal
subsidies to help them afford coverage.
"The fact is that if you do pull this piece of the Affordable Care Act out,
for some middle-income families, the increased premium is going to cancel out
the tax cut that they would get," Collins said.
Collins said she hasn't decided how to vote on the bill because it will be
amended before it reaches the Senate floor. But her vote is crucial in a
chamber where Republicans hold a slim 52-48 advantage.
Last week, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin became the first Republican to
declare opposition, saying the plan wouldn't cut business taxes enough for
partnerships and corporations. GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee, John McCain
and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Rand Paul of Kentucky have also expressed
Republicans can lose just two senators on the final vote, which would allow
Vice President Mike Pence to cast a tie-breaking 51st vote in his capacity as
president of the Senate. Democrats are not expected to support the bill, as was
the case when the House passed its version last week.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the mandate amounts to "an unfair tax
on poor people."
"The president thinks we should get rid of it. I think we should get rid of
it," he said, but added: "We're going to work with the Senate as we go through
Mulvaney and Collins were interviewed on CNN's "State of the Union." Mnuchin
spoke on "Fox News Sunday." Collins also appeared on ABC's "This Week," as did