Flake says he won’t vote to make individual tax cuts permanent

Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) on Thursday said he wouldn’t vote to extend the new tax law’s individual cuts, arguing it would be a “show vote” on legislation with no chance of passing.

“I think that that is 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, then you go and have a show vote to make the tax cuts permanent when all it is is an election maneuver,” he said at an event hosted by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

The tax law Republicans passed in December permanently slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent but only cut taxes on the individual side of the code for eight years. Under Senate rules, a bill needs 60 votes to pass instead of a simple majority if it adds to the deficit outside of the 10-year budget window, so the individual tax cuts were given an expiration date.

Republicans have been discussing holding a vote this year on permanently extending the individual tax cuts. While a bill to do so would be unlikely to pass the Senate, many Republicans view the vote as a smart political move to force Democrats to go on the record in an election year.

Flake, however, said he’s “going to have problems” if there’s a desire to make the individual cuts permanent without any offsets or an agreement to cut mandatory spending.

While Flake voted for the tax law, he said he would have preferred it if the measure had only focused on corporate taxes and didn’t also lower rates for individuals.

“if you want stimulative effects, you get that lowering the corporate tax” rather than by cutting the top individual rate, he said.

Flake, who is retiring from Congress at the end of his term, said he’s confident that the bill will generate enough economic growth to pay for itself, even though congressional scorekeepers estimate that the law will increase the national debt.

“I do think that the corporate tax cuts alone will generate that kind of growth,” he said. 

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