Last week, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted in favor of the controversial GOP tax bill which narrowly passed the Senate and is now in a conference committee to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation.
But this week Collins had been under fire from hundreds of her constituents back in her home state after claiming incorrectly that the tax bill would pay for itself.
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On Wednesday, nearly 200 protesters stood outside Collins’ office in Portland, Maine, chanting “bullshit.” And now they have the support of three conservative economists who say the bill will actually balloon the deficit by as much as a trillion dollars, which could lead to drastic cuts in Social Security and Medicare.
Sarah Austin, a policy analyst at the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP), said Republicans know their bill isn’t good fiscal policy:
“Republicans are fully aware that their tax plan doesn’t pay for itself. Look no further than the proposed budget they intend to pass next year. Republican leaders are already planning to pay for their tax bill with deep cuts to health care, education, and food assistance that will hurt hundreds of millions of families and seniors across the county.”
Collins agreed to support the GOP tax legislation after she was promised by both President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the repeal of the individual mandate in Obamacare in the tax bill would be offset by a bill sponsored by Patty Murray (D-Wa.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). But McConnell has given no date for when the Senate will vote on the bill.
Despite that, Collins tweeted:
New @Avalerehealth study confirms my reinsurance bill & Alexander-Murray proposal would reduce health insurance premiums by 18% in 2019. I secured a commitment from @SenateMajLdr to pass these two critical bills by end of year. Read more: https://t.co/A9LDGT6iN4
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) December 6, 2017
But the study Collins cites doesn’t account for the premium hikes expected once they strip individual mandate out of the Affordable Care Act:
— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) December 6, 2017
Some are now saying that Collins got bamboozled by her fellow Republicans. Ed Kilgore, a columnist for New York magazine, wrote:
“She could have demanded assurances from Ryan and conservative leaders, too—certainly she could have demanded the moon at the point where it appeared she might be the decisive vote in the tax bill.
“What this series of events shows is that Collins, like the other alleged ‘holdouts,’ really wanted to ‘get to yes,’ as we kept hearing last week. If that meant securing a promise written in vanishing ink, so be it.”
It remains to be seen if Senator Collins will withdraw her vote when the tax bill returns from conference committee and is facing a final, decisive vote.