House Republicans approve their regressive tax plan

U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) arrives at a House Republican Conference meeting June 22, 2016 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty)
U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) arrives at a House Republican Conference meeting June 22, 2016 at the Capitol in Washington, DC.

In the end, the vote wasn't especially close.

The House passed a nearly $1.5 trillion tax bill on Thursday that would slash tax rates on corporations and private businesses, overhaul the individual tax code, and eliminate taxes on wealthy heirs.The 227-205 vote on the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" is a victory for Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and for President Donald Trump, who spoke to Republican members ahead of the vote.

The full roll call on today's vote is online here. Note that zero Democrats voted for the regressive tax plan -- Dems were not invited to participate in this process in any way -- and 13 House Republicans broke ranks and voted against it.

Of the 13, five represent districts in New York (Dan Donovan, John Faso, Peter King. Elise Stefanik, and Lee Zeldin), four represent districts in New Jersey (Rodney Frelinghuysen, Leonard Lance, Frank LoBiondo, and Chris Smith), three represent districts in California (Darrell Issa, Tom McClintock, and Dana Rohrabacher), and they were joined by North Carolina's Walter Jones.

The significance, of course, is that New York, New Jersey, and California stand to lose the most from the Republican plan because of the state-and-local-tax-deduction (SALT) issue.

There's no shortage of angles to this afternoon's historic vote -- it's the first major vote on overhauling the federal tax code in three decades -- but let's consider just four.

1. This is a bad bill. The Republican tax plan disproportionately benefits the wealthiest Americans and corporations, and raises taxes on many in the middle class, ostensibly the intended beneficiaries of the entire GOP endeavor. The bill would blow a hole in the budget, and there's no credible reason to believe these massive tax breaks will boost the economy in a meaningful way. Members who voted for it will face brutal, accurate attack ads.

2. This is a bad bill passed in a bad way. The 1986 tax reform effort took two years of bipartisan work to complete. This year, the House GOP leadership wrote a bill behind closed doors and passed it in two weeks -- literally just 14 days.

What's more, the House acted without a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the economic effects of the bill, without a meaningful congressional hearing, and without considering amendments.

3. This is a bad bill the public really doesn't want. Throughout the process, every national poll has shown broad and persistent opposition to the Republican tax plan. House GOP lawmakers decided not to care, which is a rather risky thing to do given the prevailing political winds and the unpopularity of their party's president.

4. This is a bad bill with an uncertain fate. Today's vote helps Republicans clear a major hurdle, but the entire initiative now heads to the Senate, where a very different bill faces a vote later this month. No one can say with confidence if the far-right plan will pass the upper chamber, though if it does, we'll likely see the House and Senate go to a conference committee to reconcile their differences. That bill would then go back to the House and Senate floors for up-or-down votes.

Watch this space.