If you were deliberately trying to design the most arbitrary, painful and pointless tax possible, how would you go about it?

First, you would structure it to inflate the cost of an essential product. Then, you’d create exemptions so vast that only 5% of taxpayers were subject to it. You might even ensure that it hit people only when they were particularly vulnerable—like when they’d lost a job. Finally, you would use it to drive enrollment in entitlements, so that it increased the federal deficit by $338 billion.

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Republicans in Congress are plowing ahead on tax reform, and one obstacle is the complexity of Senate budget rules that limit how much taxes can be cut. The good news is that for once Washington’s fiscal fictions could be deployed to improve policy by repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate as part of tax reform.

The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday released the details of its tax proposal, which includes a permanent 20% corporate rate and more. Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Corker cut a budget deal to allow for $1.5 trillion in net tax cuts over 10 years without accounting for faster economic growth (and more revenues) as a result of reform.

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President Trump has selected Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive and a top health official during the George W. Bush administration, to lead the Health and Human Services Department.

In announcing that he is nominating Azar to be secretary of the government’s largest civilian department, the president turned to a health-policy insider and conservative thinker. Azar spent a decade at Eli Lily and Co., including five years as president of Lilly USA, its biggest affiliate, before stepping down in January to work as a health-care consultant. He previously was HHS general counsel, then served for two years as the department’s second-in-command.

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Repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate will save $338 billion over 10 years, according to a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO said Wednesday it is changing the way it analyzes the mandate (and likely reducing the assumed cost impact) but said it is holding off on making those changes because the work is not complete.

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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, isn’t giving up on including a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate in the GOP’s tax reform bill.

Brady told radio host Hugh Hewitt Tuesday that he is still considering including mandate repeal in the tax bill, which was being marked up by his committee on Tuesday. Brady said he is expecting an updated score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on the impact of including repeal.

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Conservatives are attempting to revive efforts to gut Obamacare’s individual mandate as part of the Republican overhaul of the tax code.

But the House’s top tax writer, while leaving the door open to a measure President Donald Trump supports, said Friday that such a move would complicate the tax package’s prospects, particularly in the Senate.

“The president feels very strongly about including this at some step before the final process,” House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said of mandate repeal during a POLITICO Playbook interview. “No decisions have been made.”

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President Trump recently tweeted that GOP tax-writers should include a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in their tax reform legislation. This is a singularly bad idea that most Republicans are likely to reject. (Senators Tom Cotton and Rand Paul are exceptions, having seconded Trump’s suggestion.) It would be irrational and unproductive at this point to import the fractious political combat associated with health-care reform into tax negotiations that are already loaded with controversies.

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Republicans are looking under every seat cushion to finance tax cuts and the political bribes that Members of Congress are demanding for their votes. One surprising potential “pay for,” believe it or not, would be repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

The IRS administers the mandate, which ObamaCare euphemistically dubbed an “individual responsibility payment.” But Chief Justice John Roberts called it a tax to declare it constitutional, so a policy and fiscal nexus exists.

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The Trump administration has prepared an executive order that would unravel Obamacare’s individual mandate, but has put it on hold to see whether it might be included in the Republican tax bill instead, a GOP senator told the Washington Examiner.

According to the senator, an executive order is sitting with the Office of Management and Budget waiting for approval. President Trump decided to delay the executive order after Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., pushed for the inclusion of the individual mandate repeal in the tax bill, and has been supportive of its inclusion in statements he has made on Twitter.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was confident the House would pass the GOP’s tax reform legislation before its self-imposed Thanksgiving deadline, adding a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate could still be included in the final version of the proposal.

“Yes, we are on track for moving this through the House before Thanksgiving, that’s our plan,” Ryan told “Fox News Sunday” in an interview taped Friday. “We expect our friends in the Senate to be about a week behind us.”

Ryan said doing away with the controversial individual mandate measure in the Affordable Care Act was still on the negotiation table among House Republicans.

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