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Triumphant Trump celebrates tax win _ but some fear backlash

Associated Press | 12/20/2017, 6:14 p.m.
A triumphant President Donald Trump and jubilant fellow Republicans celebrated the passage of their $1.5 trillion tax overhaul Wednesday as ...
President Donald Trump speaks during a bill passage event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, to acknowledge the final passage of tax overhaul legislation by congress. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON — A triumphant President Donald Trump and jubilant fellow Republicans celebrated the passage of their $1.5 trillion tax overhaul Wednesday as a "historic victory for the American people." The American people, however, will need some convincing.

As Trump and GOP lawmakers gathered at the White House to cheer their first major legislative achievement — and the biggest tax changes in a generation — some Republicans warned that the party could face a painful political backlash against an overhaul that offers corporations and wealthy taxpayers the biggest benefits and triggers the loss of health care coverage for millions of Americans.

There was no hint of anxiety at the White House, though, as the president and congressional Republicans pushed any qualms aside and reveled in a much-needed win at the end of a year marked by GOP infighting and political stumbles.

"We are making America great again," Trump declared, personally thanking his "little team" of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, before lawmakers lavished praise upon a president they have often openly criticized.

"I don't know if we'll have bigger moments, but we hope to," said Trump.

The president was expected to sign the bill at a later date for technical reasons. In fact, the signing may be postponed until the start of the new calendar year in order to delay $120 billion in automatic cuts to popular programs such as Medicare and spare Republicans from having to explain them in an election year.

The tax package provides a deep cut in the corporate rate, from 35 percent to 21 percent. On the individual side, about 80 percent of American households will get tax cuts next year, while about 5 percent will pay more, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

People who make less than $25,000 will see an average tax cut of $60; those who earn between $49,000 and $86,000 will get about $900, and those in the top 1 percent of income — earning more than $733,000 — will receive around $51,000 in tax savings, the policy center said.

The cuts will come at a price: The Congressional Budget Office predicts the legislation will add $1.4 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

Some of the president's strongest allies conceded that voters may not immediately warm to the new law.

Andy Surabian, a senior aide for a pro-Trump super PAC, likened the president's position to that of Ronald Reagan, who struggled through low approval ratings early in his presidential term after Congress passed a tax cut that led to huge Republican losses in the 1982 midterm elections. Reagan went on to a sweeping re-election in 1984 after the economy improved.

Said Surabian: "Even if we don't start seeing positive effects in 2018, the important thing here is President Trump sets himself up to win re-election in 2020."

GOP strategists and candidates alike called on Trump to launch an immediate public relations tour to sell the plan to help avert an anti-Republican tsunami in 2018.