Tax bill includes stinky stuff still being uncovered. Collins voted against time to find it beforehand.

Sen. Susan Collins

Sen. Susan Collins always advocated knowing about legislation before voting. Then came the swampish tax bill.

I’ve agreed with Sen. Collins on some issues and disagreed on others. But rather consistently, she’s deserved respect for advocating the use of evidence and good processes for legislation.

That wasn’t her approach with the tax bill.

The Senate, with the support of Sen. Collins, voted on an edition that was stuffed full of new additions to benefit special interests.

It was full of scribbled additions on the side of various pages.

And Sen. Collins voted on a party line vote against giving people two days to read it.

Sen. Angus King predicted, “We’re going to find some really stinky stuff in here that we didn’t know.”

As King said to John Dickerson on Face the Nation:

This is the bill, I brought it. This is the bill that we got at about 6:00 at night that we were going to vote on that night. There were no hearings. There were some general hearings about tax reform. There were zero hearings on the bill. And even the bill that was reported out by the Finance Committee was different than what we were handed that we had to vote on a few hours later.

And what worries me about this, I commandeered a staffer’s desk right off the floor on Friday night and read it. All the way through. Now, I can’t say I understood all of it. But you could do the things that we’re talking about, reducing corporate tax rates, doubling the standard deduction, in maybe 50 pages. This is 477 pages, John.

There’s a lot of stuff in here that I don’t think that I don’t think anybody knows what it’s all about. I just happened to pick up, I marked in the margin on page 409, “domestic oil and gas extraction income.” What’s that all about?

There’s a later provision about income on oil and gas from foreign countries. What’s that all about?

The point is nobody knew what was going on here. And there was a moment when we could have fixed it. Chuck Schumer moved to recess Friday night about 9:00 until Monday. Give people a chance to go through this and dig through it. Party line vote, denied, we end up voting at 3:00 AM . . . [W]e’re going to find some really stinky stuff in here that we didn’t know [source]

Besides the new loophole for “oil and gas from foreign countries” King was able to pick out the night of the vote, there was a giveaway to hedge fund billionaires. A tax provision senators like, which supports research and development by American business, was undermined, but senators didn’t know it because the final bill didn’t get analyzed fully.

Sen. Collins also cast aside the official arbiters of the impacts of tax policy, Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation. She claimed the bill would create higher growth and lower shortfalls than JCT – and all other full analyses from think tanks — estimated.

Under the standards Collins has espoused in the past, the Senate should not have voted on the bill in the middle of the night, just hours after receiving the final version.

Those standards are important, as they allow the public and legislators to scrutinize and understand legislation before it receives a vote.

Yet she voted against giving people two days to read the bill.

The good news is that Collins says she might not vote for the compromise tax bill developed by the House-Senate conference committee.

But on the Senate version, what was the rush?

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.