Speaking on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine laid claim to various commitments made by the Republican leadership of the Senate in exchange for her vote in favor of the Senate’s overhaul of the tax code this week. Referring to bipartisan efforts to supposedly stabilize the health insurance markets and lower health insurance costs, Collins said, "I got a commitment that we're going to pass two bills, including the Alexander-Murray bill, and one that I've authored that will help offset the individual mandate repeal by lowering premiums."
She added, "I also got an ironclad commitment that we're not going to see cuts in the Medicaid/Medicare program as a result of this bill." Collins also said that the tax bill will cut the federal deficit by inducing economic growth. The current deficit is about $20.6 trillion.
It was early on Saturday morning that the Senate passed their version of the Republican tax reform plan. The bill seeks to offer tax cuts for individuals through 2025, remove some popular tax deductions, while also greatly reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent. The bill narrowly passed in the Senate (51-49). Only one Republican – Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. -- voting against it. The tax cuts for individuals are temporary in order to comply with rules that the measure must not add to the deficit after 10 years. The Senate bill repeals Obamacare's individual mandate, something the House bill does not do.
Collins had long defended Obamacare’s individual mandate. In November, she told “MTP Daily” that tying the mandate to the tax bill is not “a good idea from either a political or a policy perspective.” She said that she cannot guarantee that she will vote for the tax bill once it emerges in a final form from the bicameral conference committee. "I believe that the amendments that I added on medical expense deductions, on property tax deductions, on helping retirement security for public employees improved the bill," she said.
Collins said that she believes the bill will not increase the federal deficit, saying that economists claim that the bill will yield a higher than expected level of economic growth. This is despite estimates published by the Tax Foundation and the Joint Committee on Taxation, which use dynamic scoring to predict the bill could cost an estimated $516 billion and $1 trillion, respectively.
The bill passed by the Senate must still be reconciled with the House version. The reconciliation bill would then go to President Donald Trump for signing.
"Economic growth produces more revenue and that will help to offset this tax cut and actually lower the debt,” Collins said on Sunday. When show host Chuck Todd asked her to cite evidence that the growth will be enough to offset the additional debt, Collins said that multiple economists believe that it will be the case. “I think you will find that economists just don’t agree on this," Collins said.