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'Government for Sale': In Dead of Night, Senate GOP Passes Tax Bill Only Their Donors Can Love

"Plainly speaking: a vote for this bill is a vote to inflict harm on millions of hardworking families to please corporate campaign donors and the six thousand lobbyists who pushed for it."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) arrive at the press conference after the senate vote of the tax reform bill on December 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Following months of relentless lobbying, backroom scheming, self-dealing, and brazen lying, Senate Republicans finally rammed through their $1.5 trillion tax bill by a party-line vote of 51-48 in the dead of night Wednesday, all but clearing the legislation's path to President Donald Trump's desk.

"The bill that the Republicans jammed through the Senate tonight isn't tax reform. Let's call this out for what it is: Government for sale."
—Sen. Elizabeth Warren

While Republicans held fast to the long-debunked narrative that their bill is tailored toward middle class Americans and small businesses, progressives were quick to characterize the legislation as "highway robbery"—a "heist" carried out at the behest of the donor class and the largest corporations.

"The bill that the Republicans jammed through the Senate tonight isn't tax reform," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a statement following the GOP's after-midnight vote. "Let's call this out for what it is: Government for sale."

Warren's characterization of the Republicans' 500-page bill—which was largely negotiated in secret and is deeply unpopular among the public—was echoed by a large coalition of advocacy groups that has worked for months to raise awareness and rally opposition to the GOP's legislative "monstrosity."

"Plainly speaking: a vote for this bill is a vote to inflict harm on millions of hardworking families to please corporate campaign donors and the six thousand lobbyists who pushed for it," Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, said in a statement following the Senate's vote. "It's a money grab by the richest one percent and the wealthiest corporations, period."

According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center (TPC), 80 percent of the bill's benefits will go to the top one percent by 2027. And while many Americans will see their taxes decline next year, the benefits will be paltry compared to those reaped by the wealthy. In an analysis published Monday, TPC found that in 2018, Americans earning less than $25,000 a year will see an average tax cut of $60, while those earning more than $733,000 will see a cut of $51,140.

To officially send their bill to Trump's desk, House Republicans have to vote once more Wednesday, as several provisions—and even the legislation's title—were deemed in violation of Senate rules.

Despite the narrow procedural process Republicans had to follow in order to pass their bill without Democratic support, the GOP tax bill has a scope that reaches far beyond tax policy.

In addition to tilting the American tax code even further toward the rich by slashing the corporate and top marginal rates, the Republican plan also opens Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling and repeals the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate—potentially throwing 13 million Americans off health insurance.

And Republicans have no plans of stopping there, warned Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a speech following Wednesday's vote.

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"They are coming back to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs desperately needed by the middle class," Sanders said, a message bolstered by the recent statements of numerous Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Trump himself.

While the passage of the tax bill represents a temporary defeat for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have rallied against the plan over the last several months with phone calls, sit-ins, and mass demonstrations, advocacy groups vowed Wednesday to do everything they can to ensure that the GOP's victory is short-lived.

"Americans won't forget. They'll remember who swindled them to give tax breaks to billionaires and corporations that ship jobs offshore. They'll remember who is taking away healthcare from 13 million people while lowering taxes for Donald Trump and his heirs," Clemente of Americans for Tax Fairness concluded. "This measure and its long-term effects will take away from those who are most in need and most deserving and give to those who are the most comfortable and well-off. That's not the ‘best Christmas present of all.' It's a disgrace."

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