Congressional Republicans released a long-awaited tax-cut bill Thursday, setting up the next big-issue debate in Washington politics.
In unveiling the plan, Republican leaders promised the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would give breaks to middle-class taxpayers. A family of four would save $1,182 a year, for example, House Speaker Paul Ryan said.
The plan also reduces corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 20 percent and simplifies the tax code by reducing the number of tax brackets.
House Republicans, still searching for their first meaningful legislative victory since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, largely stood behind the plan as it was unveiled, although some said it still needed work.
U.S. Rep. Randy Weber, of Friendswood, said in a prepared statement that he was excited to “discuss the details with my constituents and colleagues.”
“The federal tax code is 70,000 pages long,” Weber said. “That’s more than twice as long as the Bible, with none of the good news.”
Weber is one of the most conservative members of Congress. In the past, he has campaigned on reducing deficit spending, telling the Houston Chronicle in 2012, that Congress needed “to get our spending under control before we lose our country.”
Early analyses of the new tax plan estimate it will add $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years. If it adds any more than that it would violate a budget rule Republicans put in place, and would open the tax plan to being filibustered.
Weber would not say whether he would vote for a bill that increases the deficit. He compared the upcoming taxation debate to the World Series.
“Through fixing our broken tax code, we will have more money back in our pockets and be able to further invest in our economy,” he said. “There will be growing pains.”
Republicans argue the tax cuts would promote faster business growth, and bring additional revenues in the long-term.
Among the more controversial measures in the tax plan that could divide Republicans is a proposed limitation on mortgage interest deductions, allowing the breaks to go only to new home loans of $500,000 or less.
Representatives in states with high property values such as New York and California, may be protective of that deduction.
The plan would also limit to $10,000 the amount of local property taxes that could he deducted from federal tax returns. Earlier versions of the plan had proposed doing away with the property tax exemption altogether, which was opposed by groups such as the Texas Association of Realtors.
“Texas has relatively high property tax rates, and homeowners can benefit greatly from an itemized exemption of their property taxes,” the group said. “A repeal of the property tax exemption would then be worse for homeowners in Texas compared to homeowners in other states.”
The tax plan still needs to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office.
Trump has said he wants the tax plan on his desk by Christmas.