Trump urges lawmakers to end health mandate, cut top tax rate
Donald Trump (Screen Capture)

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday pushed lawmakers debating tax reform proposals in the Republican-controlled Congress to end the Obamacare individual mandate and cut the top income tax rate to 35 percent.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate were debating their respective plans this week before heading home for the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Republicans are aiming to achieve a significant overhaul of the U.S. tax code and hand Trump his first major legislative victory. The two chambers hope to resolve their differences in time to enact the legislation by the end of the year.

"I am proud of the Rep. House & Senate for working so hard on cutting taxes {& reform.} We’re getting close!" Trump wrote in a Twitter post.

Trump has repeatedly pushed for the tax reform bill to include a repeal of the mandate that all Americans purchase health insurance or else pay a fine. Neither House nor Senate proposals have included such a provision.

"Now, how about ending the unfair & highly unpopular Indiv Mandate in OCare & reducing taxes even further? Cut top rate to 35% w/all of the rest going to middle income cuts?" he added.

Republican tax plans in the House and Senate would each cost about $1.5 trillion but lawmakers will have to iron out differences including whether to eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes, delay implementation of a cut in the corporate tax rate and do away with the estate tax on inheritances.

The prospects for the provisions Trump pushed were uncertain.

The Senate proposal calls for keeping the existing seven tax brackets and cutting the top tax rate for the highest earning taxpayers to 38.5 percent from 39.6 percent. The House wants to reduce the number of brackets, but leave the 39.6 percent top rate alone.

The Congressional Budget Office said last week that repealing the Obamacare individual mandate would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 13 million by 2027 and reduce the federal budget deficit less than first forecast.

Trump and some Republicans favor including a repeal of the mandate in tax overhaul legislation. But lawmakers, Republican aides and lobbyists have said it would be difficult to include a repeal in a tax effort complicated by intraparty differences and intense business lobbying.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)