Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) on Tuesday predicted that Congress will pass a tax reform bill next week that will be ready for President Donald Trump to sign, touting a provision in the Senate's version of the legislation that repeals Obamacare's individual mandate.
"I think by the end of next week we're going to have a good tax bill that pulls the heart out of Obamacare by repealing the individual mandate, puts more money in working families' pockets, and helps boost long-term economic growth, and get wages up for working Americans," Cotton told radio host Hugh Hewitt.
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Hewitt gave credit to Cotton for proposing to eliminate the mandate, calling the decision "probably for a third-year senator the most significant legislative achievement" he can remember. Cotton agreed that repealing the mandate, which forces most Americans who do not have health insurance to pay a fine, "one of the most important things" in the Republican tax bill for American families.
"Last year in Arkansas, about 65,000 families paid the fine because Obamacare made their insurance unaffordable—53,000 of those families made below the median income in Arkansas," Cotton said.
"So when the mandate is repealed, and those 65,000 families—and it probably would grow absent this law—no longer have to pay that fine," Cotton continued, "they're going to know the people responsible for that are Republicans in Congress and President Trump."
Cotton added that the long-term importance of repealing the Obamacare individual mandate is to rein in certain powers of the federal government.
"And also I think it's important in the long term that we repudiate the idea that Congress can fine an American citizen for not buying the product of a private company," Cotton said. "We do not want Congress to have that kind of power over our lives. American people should have the choice to decide what they will spend their money on when it comes to things like their health insurance."
Repealing the mandate will "set the table" for Congress to revisit a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare in 2018, Cotton said.
"As I said earlier, pull the heart out of Obamacare. So we repealed the most important part of Obamacare even though we couldn't repeal the whole law this year," Cotton said. "But I do think it sets the table for returning to that law later next year in 2018, because, remember, Obamacare with or without the mandate was not working. It's not getting better; it's getting worse."
A joint House-Senate conference committee is currently reviewing both chamber's respective tax reform bills to form a final version to send to the president's desk.