WASHINGTON – Georgia’s two Republican U.S. senators plan to back their party’s tax overhaul when it comes up for a final vote in the hours or days ahead, despite an official analysis that shows the proposal would add $1 trillion to federal deficits even after accounting for economic growth.
Both David Perdue and Johnny Isakson have been viewed as safe “yes” votes for GOP leaders throughout the tax debate, and they signaled they would stick with the plan even after it hit some last-minute snags on Thursday night.
U.S. Sen. David Perdue on Friday downplayed new estimates from Congress’ nonpartisan tax analyst, the Joint Committee on Taxation, that showed the legislation would fall short of paying for itself, as leaders have promised.
“I know it’s a flawed model,” he said of the JCT report. “Having lived abroad and having run these multinational companies I know that what we’ve just done is going to be extremely stimulative for the economy.”
The JCT’s analysis said the GOP tax bill would expand the economy some $458 billion over 10 years but would not cover its full $1.4 trillion price tag. Its estimates caused some of Perdue’s deficit hawk colleagues, including Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona, to balk on Thursday evening.
Perdue, a former Fortune 500 CEO, has spent his nearly three years in the Senate railing about what he sees as the country’s debt crisis, and he often falls in line with Corker on issues such as the $20 trillion national debt. But on Friday he said many of the assumptions used by the JCT were faulty and that the Senate should still pass the tax bill as written.
“We always have the opportunity to come back and adjust,” he said. “I believe the time is right for regulatory pullback, and that’s what we’ve done… and a revision, finally, after 30 years of our archaic tax code, and that’s what we’re about to do tonight.”
Isakson was also steadfast in his support. The third-term Republican said supporters and opponents of the plan would read what they wanted into various analyses of the tax bill but that to him it was “pro-consumer, pro-middle class, pro-business.”
“Tax debates are funny because whoever’s debating makes the rules,” he said in an interview Thursday. “It’s all in the eyes of the beholder. The fact of the matter is that it’s good for average Americans. It’s good for average Georgians.”
Their comments came as GOP leaders worked feverishly to win back Flake and a handful of other wavering senators, and on Friday afternoon it appeared the road had been cleared for a final vote.
Democrats continued to put up a wall of opposition. On Thursday and Friday they pointed to the JCT analysis as proof that the GOP’s effort was ill-advised.
“The independent referee has essentially contradicted the unicorn, magic growth fairy analyses,” U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the tax-writing Finance Committee, told reporters Thursday.