TrumpWatch, Day 300: Trump-GOP Tax Cut Plan in Trouble?

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Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and his wife, actress Louise Linton, pose with dollar bills with Mnuchin's signature at the National Mint, November 15, 2017 (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Developments on Day 300 of the Trump Administration:

Leading GOP Senator Comes Out v. Tax Plan, Others Said to Be Close

The tax cut plan of the Trump Administration and the GOP’s Congressional leadership appears to be in trouble after one Senator came out publicly against the proposal and others are said to be close to opposition.

Ron Johnson, a conservative from Wisconsin, said he opposed both the Senate and House versions of the bill because they benefit corporations at the expense of smaller businesses.

Earlier on Wednesday, Susan Collins of Maine said the GOP erred when it included a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which requires every American to have health insurance or pay a fine, in the Senate’s legislation.

“This bill is a mixture of some very good provisions and some provisions I consider to be big mistakes,” said Collins.

Senate Republicans amended the legislation on Tuesday in an effort to meet the requirements of “reconciliation”, which allow passage with only a simple majority if the provisions do not raise the Federal Government’s deficit after a decade.

With the tax cuts estimated to cost $1.5 trillion, the amendments included the removal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, estimated to save $300 billion over 10 years in government insurance subsidies for low- and middle-income Americans. The change would also result in 13 million more Americans going without coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Senate leaders also changed the bill to make tax cuts for corporations permanent, but ending individual tax cuts at the end of 2025. The expiration would also affect small businesses whose owners pay some of their income at the individual rate.

The GOP has a 52-48 majority in the Senate. A tie-breaking vote by Mike Pence could be decisive if Johnson and Collins vote No, but other Senators — including Bob Corker of Tennessee and John McCain of Arizona, both of whom have been attacked by Trump — are said to be wavering.

The House is expected to pass its version on Thursday. The Senate Finance Committee hopes to put through its version this week, with the full Senate voting after Thanksgiving.

Donald Trump, just returned from a 12-day trip to Asia, ignored the signs of concern on Wednesday, including Johnson’s worries about the impact on small businesses:


Trump Administration to Lift Ban on Import of Elephant Trophies

The Trump Administration plans to allow hunters to import trophies of elephants they killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia, reversing a ban imposed by the Obama Administration in 2014.

A US Fish and Wildlife Service official confirmed the reversal. Even though elephants are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, a provision allows the Government to give permits for imports if there is evidence that the hunting benefits conservation for that species.

The Administration source insisted that new information from officials in Zimbabwe and Zambia supports the change in policy.

A Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson said, “Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation.”

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