Joseph Kennedy mulling primary challenge to Markey in Massachusetts
Cruz: It’s a mistake for House bill to raise taxes
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Tuesday criticized the House GOP tax plan for likely raising taxes on individuals in high-tax states such as New York and California and called for language to repeal the individual mandate to produce more revenue.
Cruz called raising taxes on people in wealthy, staunchly Democratic states such as New York and California "a mistake."
Cruz has teamed up with fellow conservative Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in calling for tax reform to include language repealing ObamaCare's tax penalty on people who don't buy health insurance.
The provision would raise an estimated $300 billion to $400 billion over the next decade, which Cruz and other Senate conservatives say could be used to lower individual tax rates even further.
"There are some taxpayers who are losing exemptions, particularly in some high-tax states like New York or California that could conceivably be paying higher taxes. I think that is a mistake. I think tax reform needs to cut taxes for everybody," Cruz told reporters at a press conference Tuesday.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that the House bill would raise taxes on one-third of all middle-class families next year.
Cruz argues that repealing the individual mandate will give members of the tax-writing committees of the Senate and House more leeway to cut rates, so that no one sees their taxes go up.
"One of the real virtues of repealing the individual mandate, number one, [is] every Republican in the Senate has voted to repeal the individual mandate, 100 percent of us," Cruz argued.
He said an additional $400 billion in revenue would make "it much easier" to pass a tax-reform bill, "particularly if that money is directed to lowering individual rates."
A senior Senate GOP source familiar with the tax bill the Senate Finance Committee plans to unveil Thursday said it likely won't include language to repeal the mandate.
"We're not going in that direction," the source said.
Cotton endorsed the idea of attaching the individual mandate repeal to tax reform last week when he tweeted, "repealing mandate is itself a tax cut for working families!"
Cruz on Tuesday argued that the individual mandate hits 6.5 million Americans "who are predominantly lower and middle income."
"It's immediate relief for those 6.5 million Americans," he said.
Senate Republicans discussed adding the provision at a lunch meeting on Thursday.
"I think there's some movement on the Senate side," Paul said after the meeting.