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Some Senate Republicans think twice about health plan's tax cuts

Rolling back proposed tax cuts would make the Republican health care plan easier to pass. On the other hand, Republicans love tax cuts.
Sen. Bob Corker
U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) talks to reporters after a Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on April 29, 2014.

The basic description of the Senate Republicans' health care plan fits nicely into a 30-second campaign ad: the plan intends to cut taxes on the wealthy, and pay for them with cuts to Medicaid, forcing millions into the ranks of the uninsured.

There's a reason this thing is polling at 12%.

It's so tough to defend that Bloomberg Politics reported yesterday that "several" Senate Republicans have begun publicly questioning the value of including big tax breaks in the GOP plan.

[Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee], who faces re-election in 2018, voiced hesitation with tax cuts for the highest earners.... "I want to make sure that we're not in a situation where we're cutting taxes for the wealthy and at the same time, basically, for lower income citizens, passing a larger burden on to them," Corker said.Told that what he described is what the CBO projects would happen, he responded, "So that needs to be overcome then, doesn't it?"

The same report added that Maine's Susan Collins and South Dakota's Mike Rounds "both criticized the draft bill released by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for repealing a surtax on net investment income imposed under Obamacare."

In the face of these complains, the Washington Examiner added that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) "is said to be considering a change to the tax cuts."

We'll know soon enough what, if anything, will come of this -- GOP leaders intend to have a revamped bill finished by tomorrow -- but this element of the fight creates a difficult challenge. If the tax breaks are dramatically scaled back, it would free up additional money for benefits and make it easier for Republicans to impose fewer burdens on the public.

On the other hand, Republicans love tax cuts, especially for the wealthy. It is, to a very real extent, the point of this entire endeavor.

What's more, we don't know what this kind of change would do to the overall state of play among Senate Republicans. The Atlantic had a good piece yesterday summarizing what each of the major players want to see changed in the Senate Republican Health Plan 2.0, and there's very little overlap between factions.

Chris Hayes talked to Rachel on the show last night about the trick of moving a bill to the left and the right at the same time. It's not impossible, but it's a tall order.

Postscript: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) both indicated yesterday that if there's no Republican consensus plan by this week, the party will be forced to consider bipartisan policymaking. What a concept.