Senate backs GOP budget in step forward for tax revamp

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on Thursday muscled a $4 trillion budget through the Senate in a major step forward for President Donald Trump’s ambitious promise of “massive tax cuts and reform.”

The 51-49 vote sets the stage for debate later this year to dramatically overhaul the U.S. tax code for the first time in three decades, cutting rates for individuals and corporations while eliminating trillions of dollars of deductions and special interest tax breaks.

The tax cuts would add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the coming decade, however, as Republicans have shelved fears about the growing budget deficit in favor of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rewrite tax laws.

“These are reforms that change incentives and drive growth, and we’ve never done that before,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

The White House hailed the bill’s passage, saying it “creates a pathway to unleash the potential of the American economy through tax reform and tax cuts.”

Divisions within the GOP indicate the process won’t be easy despite the political imperative.

The upcoming tax measure, always a top item on the GOP agenda, has taken on even greater urgency with the failure of the party to carry out its longstanding promise to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Republicans have said failure on taxes would be politically devastating in next year’s midterm elections, when control of the House and Senate are at stake.

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