November 13, 2017 17:26 GMT by nytimes.com

Trump Again Wades Into Tax Debate, Suggesting Repeal of Obamacare Mandate

Trump Again Wades Into Tax Debate, Suggesting Repeal of Obamacare Mandate

President Trump took to Twitter to suggest that Republicans cut taxes even further by repealing the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most people have health insurance.

As Republican lawmakers worked toward a delicate compromise on a $1.5 trillion tax cut, President Trump threw himself back into the discussion on Monday, suggesting that Republicans could slash taxes even further by repealing the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most people have health insurance.

After a long day of meetings in the Philippines, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to congratulate House and Senate Republicans for making progress on tax cut legislation during his 12-day trip through Asia. Then he pressed them to change course.

“Now, how about ending the unfair & highly unpopular Indiv Mandate in OCare & reducing taxes even further?” Mr. Trump said, referring to the health law’s mandate that people purchase health insurance. “Cut top rate to 35% w/all of the rest going to middle income cuts?”

Republicans have been navigating a challenging path in their effort to pass the most sweeping overhaul of the tax code in more than 30 years by the end of this year. Mr. Trump’s wishes, often expressed on social media, have at times steered the internal deliberations over the bill off course.

Lawmakers last month were considering making changes to 401(k) retirement accounts as a way to raise revenues before Mr. Trump quashed the idea on Twitter.

In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has called for including the repeal of the individual mandate in the tax bill. Doing so would save more than $300 billion over a decade and would allow Republicans to boast that they took a step forward in dismantling a law that continues to haunt them.

The Congressional Budget Office and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that repealing the mandate starting in 2019 would reduce federal budget deficits by $338 billion between 2018 and 2027 relative to C.B.O.’s most recent baseline.

While many Republicans in the House and the Senate have echoed Mr. Trump’s desire to repeal the mandate, they have been wary of injecting the treacherous politics of health care into the debate over taxes.

In some cases Mr. Trump’s tweets on taxes have sowed confusion about the direction he wants to chart for the legislation.

The president said previously that he wanted Republican negotiators to allow for a higher individual tax bracket to make sure that the bill was sufficiently progressive. The House plan would keep a top rate of 39.6 percent for millionaires and the Senate plan has a top rate of 38.5 percent for high earners. But now Mr. Trump wants to lower the top rate while also giving deeper cuts to the middle class.

Although Mr. Trump must sign the eventual legislation, Republican lawmakers have shown a willingness to break with his wishes. Mr. Trump originally called for a 15 percent corporate tax rate, but Senate Republicans appear to have settled on a 20 percent rate that will be delayed by a year. Senate Republicans also have ignored Mr. Trump’s desire to fully eliminate the estate tax and, for now, they have not addressed the special treatment of “carried interest” that gives hedge fund managers and private equity partners lower tax rates on their income.

Mr. Trump’s latest suggestions come as the Senate Finance Committee is due on Monday to begin debating the bill and considering amendments, a process that should continue all week.

The repeal of the individual mandate was not on the list of 355 amendments that the committee released on Sunday night.

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