By JIM MCLEAN
Kansas News Service
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran candidly discussed his reservations about President Donald Trump’s tax cut bill Wednesday at a town hall meeting in the small north-central Kansas community of Frankfort.
But in response to prodding from some in the crowd of approximately 100, he declined to commit to voting against the bill if Republican leaders don’t address his concerns.
Moran, a Republican, said he believes cutting corporate taxes would stimulate the economy. But he said he is opposed to massive cuts that would balloon the budget deficit and trigger automatic reductions in Medicare, agriculture subsidies and other federal programs.
“Surely we can figure out how to have a tax plan that doesn’t go to the extent that we have ‘pay go’ rules kick in and across-the-board cuts come into play,” Moran said.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the version of the tax cut bill recently passed by the U.S. House would trigger a $25 billion reduction in Medicaid funding and an overall reduction in federal spending of $136 billion in 2018.
A plan by Senate GOP leaders to use the tax bill to repeal the Obamacare mandate that requires individuals to purchase health insurance is also a bad idea, Moran said.
“I hope that we can get health care separated from taxes to start with,” he said, adding that he had “encouraged the leadership” to strip the Obamacare provision out of the bill.
Some provisions in the version of the tax cut bill recently passed by the U.S. House also concern Moran. Among them: one that would tax as income the tuition waivers given in lieu of salaries to graduate teaching assistants at universities.
“I will do everything I can to make sure that provision is not in there. Then I’ll make a decision about the overall tax bill, whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing,” he said.
Wednesday’s scene was similar to one last summer when a large crowd showed up in the tiny northwest Kansas community of Palco to urge Moran to vote against the Senate’s Obamacare repeal bill.
Just as he did last summer, Moran bantered with audience members but refused to be pushed into a commitment to vote against the bill. Responding to one persistent questioner he said: “You will not get me to answer your question the way that you would like for me to answer your question, which is to say I fully commit to what you’re wanting me to commit to.”
Jim McLean is managing director of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks.