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McConnell: Tax bill won’t add to nation’s debt woes

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., answers a reporter’s question during a news conference Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. (Timothy D. Easley / Associated Press)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., answers a reporter’s question during a news conference Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. (Timothy D. Easley / Associated Press)
By Bruce Schreiner Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Fresh off his biggest legislative victory of the Trump era, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday disputed projections that the Senate’s tax bill would add to the nation’s debt woes.

Back home in Kentucky just hours after the Senate narrowly pushed through the nearly $1.5 trillion tax bill, McConnell predicted that the boldest rewrite of the nation’s tax system in decades would generate more than enough economic growth to prevent the burgeoning deficits being forecast.

“I not only don’t think it will increase the deficit, I think it will be beyond revenue neutral,” he told reporters. “In other words, I think it will produce more than enough to fill that gap.”

Over the next decade, Republicans’ tax plan is projected to add at least $1 trillion to the national debt. That would be on top of an additional $10 trillion in deficits over the same period already being forecast by the Congressional Budget Office.

“I’m not one of the total supplier siders who just believes that if you cut taxes, no matter what amount, you turn out ahead,” McConnell said. “I still believe in revenue neutrality for tax reform, and I believe this is a revenue neutral tax reform bill.”

McConnell’s hometown congressman, Democrat John Yarmuth, said Senate Republicans had “abdicated any claim they had to being the party of fiscal responsibility.”

“There is nothing remotely responsible about forcing through a … hastily conceived bill to give tax cuts to the already wealthy and multi-national corporations,” Yarmuth said in a statement.

McConnell predicted that the GOP-led House and Senate can resolve differences over the tax legislation and get it to President Donald Trump before Christmas. McConnell said he doesn’t foresee any compromises that would threaten the Senate Republican coalition supporting the bill.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was the only lawmaker to cross party lines, voting in opposition along with Democrats.

McConnell also disputed claims by the bill’s critics that it focuses its tax reductions on businesses and higher-earning individuals, while giving more modest breaks to others.

“I haven’t run into anybody during this whole tax discussion who’s very successful who thinks they’re benefiting from it,” the Senate leader said.

The bill would award about $2,200 a year in tax relief to the average family of four, McConnell said. “And that’s pretty darn important to them,” he said.

Voters ultimately can look to the nation’s economic performance to determine whether Republicans or Democrats were right in the bitter tax debate.

“Look, a year or two from now, you guys can make an assessment which one of us was right,” he said to reporters. “The proof will be in whether or not the economy picks up and things get better.”

McConnell, the state’s longest-serving senator, also indicated during his appearance in Louisville that he plans to run for another Senate term in 2020.

Asked whether he’s bracing for a potential challenge from within his own party, McConnell said as a party leader he gets “a lot of slings and arrows.”

“I think the best way to judge a campaign is how did it end, not how did it begin,” he said, pointing out that he overwhelmingly carried the state in 2014 in the primary and general elections.

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