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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Public skeptical as House and Senate pursue tax pact

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Senate Majority Leader Mitch

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, meet reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Credit: AP

This big tax deal has a way to go before it arrives. The rate of speed from here is a matter of guesswork, posturing and bedeviling details.

The Senate GOP majority is doing its best to show momentum after approving its version of the sweeping legislation last weekend. Markets heat up on promises of a deal.

All the “victory for the GOP” rhetoric may be premature. Both congressional houses must sign off on all the details before it can go to President Donald Trump for his signature.

This week, the Senate and House were expected to vote to go into a conference committee. Legislators then can work out a final version to present to both chambers.

There is doubt and dissent in the heartland, in addition to blue states like New York that have particular qualms.

The latest Gallup Poll shows only 29 percent of voters favor the current bill, with 56 percent disapproving.

The Quinnipiac Poll has 29 percent in favor, 53 against. Sixty-one percent say the pending plan benefits the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

Believe them or not, these numbers will get the attention of Republican lawmakers who run both houses — whether or not key amendments result.

Critics express urgency. Locally, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pounded away at proposals that could kill or put a $10,000 lid on deductions for state and local taxes.

Cuomo used the same type of overwrought language that Trump has used on China.

“Let [Rep.] Lee (Zeldin) say ‘I’ll resign,’ ” Cuomo said in a conference call with editorial writers.

“Let [Rep. Peter] King say ‘I’ll resign.’ Let [Rep. John] Faso say ‘I’ll resign. I didn’t come down to Congress to rape and pillage the people of my district.’ ”

Even with Trump promising easy-to-file forms, the tax system won’t be simple when this is over — any more than the federal deficit will be closed by magic revenue rises.

Some compromises between the houses seem achievable, such as on how to change the corporate alternative minimum tax, the top-bracket rates for individuals, and how to shrink the estate tax and cap mortgage deductions.

In some ways this whole enterprise resembles a Trump real estate development of recent decades. Someone else does the designing and building, with his investment and input, and he benefits from his brand name gracing the completed project.

After the summer’s health care bill collapse, renovation of the tax system remains under construction.

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