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GOP health-care 'soap opera' will spur tax cuts before year-end, Republican Steve Forbes says

Michelle Fox

The Republican health-care bill drama actually boosts, not hurts, the chances of tax cuts occurring before the end of the year, two-time GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes told CNBC on Monday.

Facing opposition within the party, Republican leaders have been trying to round up enough votes to pass their overhaul of the U.S. health-care system. Then, on Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell , R-Ky., announced the Senate would delay consideration of the bill after Sen. John McCain , R-Ariz., had surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye.

"Certainly this soap opera has not helped the Republican party," Forbes told "Closing Bell."

"They are going to be eager to pass a big tax cut, ignore the Congressional Budget Office and figure if we don't get something big to help spur this economy, get out of its 1.5, 2 percent rut, they know they're going to get shellacked next year," he added, referring to the mid-term elections.

In fact, he thinks that not only will Republicans get "something" on tax cuts before the end of the year, they can even make them retroactive.

Last month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that "massive tax reform" will get finished this year . House Speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence have also said that the GOP aims to have tax reform passed by the end of the year .

When it comes to health care, Forbes advised his fellow Republicans to look at it as a step-by-step process. In fact, he doesn't like the current bill, "but something is better than nothing."

"This is a long journey. This is the beginning of a journey, not the end," Forbes said.

And he's not concerned about any implications to the U.S. deficit.

"The only way to cure the deficit long term is with a vibrant economy. Weak economy always begets financial problems."

— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk and Jeff Cox contributed to this report.