- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sen. Jeff Flake said Thursday that Congress doesn’t have the votes to permanently extend the individual tax cuts in the GOP’s $1.5 trillion tax law and that he would not support such a “show vote” he sees as “an election maneuver.”

“We know that we don’t have the votes to do that. It would just be a show vote anyway,” the Arizona Republican said.

He said he doesn’t regret voting for the law, but that his preference would have been to cut the corporate tax rate and not do the individual tax cuts at all, saying the corporate side is what truly generates associated stimulative economic effects.

“I’m going to have problems if they’re wanting to make the individual tax cuts permanent without some offsets somewhere, or some agreement to deal with mandatory spending,” Mr. Flake said.

He was speaking at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s annual “fiscal summit” in Washington, D.C.

The new law permanently lowered the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. It cut individual rates across the board as well, but set them to expire after 2025 in order to comply with budget rules.

“I think that’s an act of bad faith to pass something to fit it under the budget window and then as soon as you get past that political peril, you go and have a show vote to make the tax cuts permanent when all it is is an election maneuver,” Mr. Flake said.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said he’s planning votes this year to make the individual cuts permanent.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, has said if lawmakers want to make the individual cuts permanent, it’s something they should take a look at.

Republicans used a fast-track budget maneuver to speed through the tax cuts last year with only GOP votes.

But it’s unclear whether the House and Senate will muster the votes to even pass a budget this year, which would be necessary to unlock the fast-track tool known as reconciliation.

That likely means a vote to extend the individual tax cuts would be subject to a 60-vote threshold in the Senate to overcome a potential Democratic filibuster.

Republicans currently hold a slim 51-49 majority, though holding votes to make the individual rates permanent could put a number of red-state Democrats up for re-election this year on the spot.

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