President Donald Trump called for changes to the GOP tax reform bill. In a Monday tweet before meeting with influential Republican senators at the White House, Trump tweeted that he seeks “just a few changes” to help “the middle class and job producers,” as well as small businesses. “The Tax Cut Bill is coming along very well, great support,” the president wrote. “With just a few changes, some mathematical, the middle class and job producers can get even more in actual dollars and savings and the pass through provision becomes simpler and really works well!” The president did not specify the changes he desires.

The White House released a statement on Monday that noted that he will meet with Sens. Orrin Hatch, Pat Toomey, Rob Portman, Tim Scott, and John Cornyn:

"With the holiday season upon us, President Donald J. Trump is working hard with Congress to cut taxes for middle-income families and fix our Nation's broken tax code in time for Christmas. The new bill – currently making its way through the Senate – will slash taxes by some $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years and is projected to boost household incomes significantly after nearly two decades of stagnation. The new code will allow families to spend more of their hard-earned dollars toward the success of their children, while restoring America's competitive business edge and stimulating job growth.

"Today, the President is meeting to discuss the bill with Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tim Scott (R-SC) and John Cornyn (R-TX) of the Senate Finance Committee. The Administration is pleased with the growing momentum behind passing these historic tax reforms, and it looks forward to continuing to support the Senate in getting this important work done as quickly as possible."

Senate Republicans do not yet have the 50 votes they need to pass the bill. Trump's comments may be addressed to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who has declared that he cannot support the bill as currently written because he believes it helps corporations at the expense of small businesses. There are reports that the Senate Finance Committee is making last-minute changes that may suit Johnson, and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who has expressed similar concerns.

President Trump is expected to visit Capitol Hill on Tuesday to rally recalcitrant Republicans. The visit is scheduled to occur just before the Finance Committee is expected to vote on the bill. 

On Monday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) acknowledged that he will vote in favor of the Republicans tax plan in the Senate. He urged his colleagues to "step up" and back the measure. "This tax bill is a true test for my colleagues. I’m not getting everything I want — far from it. ... I’ve fought for and received major changes for the better — and I plan to vote for this bill as it stands right now," Paul wrote in a Fox News op-ed. Directing himself to voters, Paul wrote: "I urge you, their constituents, to make sure they hear from you."

The vote in the Senate on the tax measure is expected this week. However, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) faces diffcult road ahead towards passing the bill. With a 52-seat majority, McConnell can lose but two GOP senators if every Democrat -- as expected -- opposes the bill.

Having been a significant hurdle among Republicans for passage of the bill, he wrote in Monday's article that while he would like a bigger tax cut, he is happy that a repeal of ObamaCare's individual mandate. "I’m also pleased to note that, in part by my urging, the Senate tax-plan writers have included repeal of the ObamaCare individual mandate in the tax plan. ... I was pleased to work directly with President Trump to push this important change that lets us keep multiple promises in one bill," Paul wrote.

The repeal of the Obamacare mandate was included in a version of the bill that was released before the Senate recessed for Thanksgiving. However, some Republican senators appear to balk at voting for the bill. They include Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Jerry Moran (Kan.). Collins has proved to be a maverick among Republicans, at times. Last week, Collins told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, "I hope to see changes in that bill, and I think there will be changes." She has a problem with dropping the individual mandate. Repealing it, she said, would be the "the biggest mistake" in the Senate's tax bill. "I hope it will be dropped," she said.

Other Republicans who appear to oppose the tax bill are Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is the only declared “no” on the tax legislation, so far. Johnson has argued that the overhaul would unduly affect small businesses. He has been joined by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.). Another fence-sitter is Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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