Lobbying Frenzy Begins on Tax Bill

“It’s pretty weedy stuff,” said Dave Camp, a former chairman of the Ways and Means Committee who wrote a 2014 tax bill that laid some of the groundwork for the current one. Mr. Camp, who is now a senior adviser for PricewaterhouseCoopers, said that when lawmakers attempt to overhaul the code, “you get significant pushback on just about everything.”

The groups pushing back the hardest on Friday included those in the real estate industry. Some of them had raised concerns before the bill was released, only to discover their biggest fears realized in the draft legislation. The bill includes several measures long opposed by those groups, including a limit on interest deductions for new home purchases of $500,000 or more and an expansion of the standard deduction.

The Mortgage Bankers Association plans conference calls and discussions with members of Congress throughout the weekend, said David Stevens, the group’s president. Realtors are running online ads raising concerns over those provisions.

Mr. Stevens complained about the “piling-on effect” of the bill’s provisions on homeownership incentives, and said the bill is “moving really fast” through the House. “Every special interest is going to have concerns,” he said. “If Congress is going to have integrity, they’re going to listen to them and make the best decisions.”

Some of those groups were already training their efforts on a still-unfinished Senate version of the legislation, fearing that House leaders — who introduced their bill on Thursday — were intent on speeding the plan to a vote with little time or opportunity to amend it. The House bill, as one consultant to business groups put it, feels “pretty baked” already.

If Republicans decide to take aim once more at the Affordable Care Act, that would add yet another dimension to the battle over taxes.

Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said no decision had been made about whether to include repeal of the so-called individual mandate. But he said Mr. Trump wants its inclusion, and he indicated that Republicans wanted to evaluate the fiscal effects of taking that step. Senate Republicans may not be as enthused about its inclusion.


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“While I support replacing the individual mandate with an auto enrollment system that allows for a consumer to opt out, it would make it more difficult to pass a tax relief bill if it is combined with a repeal of the individual mandate,” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said on Friday.

Members of Mr. Brady’s committee will meet Monday to begin marking up the tax bill, but lobbyists fear the process will not yield any substantive changes. Republican leaders are hoping to pass it through the House by Thanksgiving. The Senate, meanwhile, stands ready to release its bill as soon as the House committee approves its version.

Representatives from industry groups were carefully analyzing how the companies they represent would be affected by a proposal in the House bill that would create a 20 percent excise tax on payments to foreign affiliates.


A nurse attending to medical equipment at the Orange County Children’s Hospital in Orange, Calif. By ripping out a major component of President Barack Obama’s health law, Republicans could claim at least a partial victory on an issue that has stymied them all year.

Mike Blake/Reuters

The small-government advocacy groups spearheaded by the billionaire Republican megadonor brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch have been seeking to rally opposition to the excise tax from other conservative groups, as well as trade and industry associations.

The Koch groups already have expressed concern about the provision — as well as a plan to retain an upper-income tax bracket — in meetings this week with the Speaker, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, Mr. Brady and Senate leadership.

The proposed excise tax is “misguided” and its costs would be passed along to consumers, said Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit group funded by the Koch brothers and their network of donors.

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Yet Mr. Phillips said Americans for Prosperity remains supportive of the overall legislation and is walking a delicate line between trying to tweak the bill without diminishing its prospects.

“It’s important to keep this thing moving forward in the House as we try to improve it,” he said, “and then we get another bite at the apple in the Senate.”

Republican leaders warned on Thursday that interest groups would attack the bill and said they would resist efforts to keep things “status quo.”


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“You’re going to gore some sacred cows in an operation like this,” said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, on Friday. “But I really worry about more what happens inside the building. And as I talk to members, they’re not feeling a lot of pressure at this point against this.”

Any lobbyist push is complicated by the House’s math problem: The bill must contain enough revenue to offset its corporate and individual tax cuts. An independent analysis of the bill from the Tax Foundation on Friday suggested that problem might be larger than Republican leaders anticipated.

The analysis found that the draft legislation would cost too much to survive the budgetary requirements needed to pass the Senate on a party-line vote — a sign that Republicans will almost certainly need to rework it in order to keep their hopes alive for delivering a bill to Mr. Trump’s desk by Christmas.

The analysis found that the bill would add $2 trillion to the federal budget deficit over the next decade, an amount that shrinks to $1 trillion even when additional economic growth effects from the bill are factored in.

“This does not pay for itself,” said Scott Greenberg, a senior analyst at the Tax Foundation.

The bill would continue to add to deficits after 10 years, violating the procedural budget rules that Republicans are hoping to use to avoid a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

The White House is projecting robust economic growth from the tax cut, and the analysis found that, if those growth projections hold, the bill would create an additional one million jobs and raise incomes for rich, poor and middle-class Americans. If those growth projections fail to materialize, the top 1 percent of earners would see income gains twice as large as those seen by middle-class workers.

When economic growth is taken into account, the gains would be more evenly distributed, with the middle class seeing the biggest income increase on a percentage basis. That is because the Tax Foundation assumes additional growth spurred by business tax cuts largely finds its way into workers’ paychecks.

Republicans are looking for other ways to squeeze more dollars out of the bill. On Friday, they released an amended version that would reduce the value of the income tax cuts for individuals by $90 billion over the course of a decade and slightly shrink the estimated cost of the legislation.

The amended bill includes a technical change that immediately adopts a revised measure of inflation, known as “chained C.P.I.,” which would change how inflation is calculated, thus slowing the speed at which tax brackets grow with inflation. As a result, Americans would more quickly find themselves in higher marginal tax brackets — jumping from a 12 percent top bracket to 25 percent, for example — as their incomes increase.


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The chained measure would also slow the value growth of some inflation-adjusted tax benefits, such as the earned-income tax credit.

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