WASHINGTON — White House officials pushing on behalf of President Donald Trump for tax legislation to sign by Christmas voiced a willingness Sunday to shelve an Obamacare repeal if it imperiled passage of the Senate plan.
“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,” budget director Mick Mulvaney said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we’re OK with taking it out.”
The Senate GOP has tied an elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to its bill to cut taxes and overhaul the tax code. But some in the caucus have argued that health insurance premiums would spike and cancel out the tax relief that middle-income Americans would receive.
The House version of the tax overhaul passed last week — though without the votes of Long Island members including GOP Reps. Peter King of Seaford and Lee Zeldin of Shirley, who seek the full restoration of state and local tax deductions.
The Senate is set to take up its bill after Thanksgiving.
Trump’s legislative affairs director Marc Short noted that the House plan did not have the partial Obamacare repeal in it.
“The White House is very comfortable with the House bill . . . as you know, it does not have the individual mandate in it,” he told ABC News’ “This Week.” “We also, though, believe the individual mandate is a tax, and it is harming middle-income families the most. So, we like the fact that the Senate has included it in its bill.”
On “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace pointed out to guest and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation found the House bill delivers 80 percent of its cuts to corporations, businesses and wealthy families.
In the Senate plan, meanwhile, corporate tax cuts are permanent while nearly every provision for individuals expires in 2025. Wallace noted that critics called it a budget gimmick to keep from ballooning the deficit.
“This isn’t about the deficit because we think this is all about creating growth, and we’ll create economic growth to pay down the deficit,” Mnuchin responded.
On the sunsetting of personal cuts, he predicted, “Of course, Congress is going to vote down the road to keep these cuts.”
Mulvaney on CNN defended the permanent corporate cuts and temporary individual ones as Washington-esque Senate rule complications. “It’s simply trying to essentially manipulate the numbers and game the system so that you can fall into this square peg,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) responded on Twitter: “Permanent corporate tax cuts on the backs of the middle class is a game Americans can’t afford to play.”
Democrats have assailed the GOP tax plan as helpful to the rich but harmful to the middle class.
Republicans have rejected the premise.
“The bottom line is that the White House, the president is not going to sign a bill that raises taxes on the middle class, period,” Mulvaney said.
“Is that a promise?” Schumer tweeted.
Also dominating the Sunday TV talk shows were discussions of allegations of sexual misconduct, including involving minors, against Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore.
Mulvaney told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that Trump believes Alabama voters should decide Moore’s fate. The budget director said of Moore’s accusers, who now number nine: “I believe they’re credible. I don’t know who to believe.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told NBC of Moore: “The women’s story was more credible than his response.”
Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) told the network that she hopes Moore will step aside and added: “For that matter, Al Franken can go hit the door with him.”
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) apologized following accusations that he groped and forcibly kissed a radio broadcaster in 2006.
Trump on Sunday appeared to have the criticism of the father of a UCLA basketball player on his mind.
The president had said he personally intervened after three athletes were arrested in China for shoplifting.
“Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal,” Trump tweeted. “I should have left them in jail!”
LaVar Ball had told ESPN that Trump didn’t deserve credit.
“Who?” Ball asked. “Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”