Senate tax plan would eliminate deduction used by 26% of Ohioans

Published: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 6:00 PM
Updated: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 6:00 PM


            From left, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn, and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speak at a news conference as work gets underway on the Senate’s version of the GOP tax reform bill, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
            J. Scott Applewhite
From left, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn, and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speak at a news conference as work gets underway on the Senate’s version of the GOP tax reform bill, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)(J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Republicans want to end to a key tax provision that allows millions of Americans to deduct the amount of money they pay in state, local and property taxes from their annual federal income tax returns.

As part of a plan unveiled Thursday to overhaul the federal tax code for the first time since 1986, Senate Republicans call for ending a deduction that 44 million American households use to reduce the federal taxes they pay. In return, the GOP promises to lower individual tax rates for most Americans.

The decision by Senate Republicans to end the deduction is likely to provoke an intense battle not only with Democrats from large states with high state and local taxes, but also the House, where GOP lawmakers would only allow people to deduct as much as $10,000 in property taxes from their federal income tax returns.

RELATED: House panel approves tax reform bill

In an interview on Bloomberg TV, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said “federal taxpayers should not be subsidizing states that want to have higher taxes. If that’s what they want to do, that’s fine.”

“And second, I do think if you look at state and local taxes it is something that is relatively regressive,” Portman said. “In other words, over 50 percent of the benefit goes to people making over $200,000 a year.”

But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said ending the deduction will “be a three-alarm fire for every House Republican in California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, and Illinois, Colorado, and Minnesota.”

“Senate Republicans are telling House Republicans that there will be no compromise on state and local deductibility,” Schumer said in a floor speech. “It’s full repeal or bust because Senate Republicans need the revenue raised by ending this popular middle-class deduction.”

RELATED: Senate bill would undo reductions

A report by the Government Finance Officers Association, which represents state and local government finance officers, concluded that 26 percent of Ohio households use the state and local deduction on their tax returns. By contrast, 35 percent of California households use the deduction and 34 percent in New York.

By scrapping the deduction, the federal treasury would save $1.3 trillion during the next decade — savings that help Republicans finance reductions in corporate and individual tax rates.

The Senate released its plan as the House Ways and Means Committee approved the House GOP tax bill by a vote of 24-16. The full House is expected to vote on the package next week.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump “applauds” Senate Republicans for releasing their plan, saying “we will continue working with Congress to deliver tax cuts and reforms for hard-working Americans by the end of the year.”

In a floor speech, Portman called the bill “an opportunity … to finally fix our tax code. And it is broken.” Portman said if the bill becomes law, “we’re going to create more jobs and higher wages.”

Like the House bill, the Senate GOP plan reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, although the Senate delays that reduction until 2019.

RELATED: Budget office warns of uninsured Americans

The bill creates seven individual tax brackets compared to just four in the House bill. The Senate brackets range from a low of 10 percent to 38.5 percent for the wealthiest taxpayers. The other five brackets would be 12 percent, 22.5 percent, 25 percent, 32.5 percent and 35 percent.

The plan retains current deductions for home mortgage interest, 401 K retirement contributions, charitable contributions and medical expenses. Both the Senate and House measures end the personal exemption, which allows taxpayers to take a $4,050 exemption for every family member.

The standard deduction, which is the amount people who don’t itemize can deduct from their income, would nearly double to $24,000 a year for married taxpayers and $12,000 for those who are single filers. Currently, the standard deduction is $12,700 for married couples filing jointly and $6,350 for single taxpayers.

The increase in the standard deduction is designed to simplify the code. If Americans choose the new higher standard deduction, they could not take deductions such as home mortgage interest. But they would be able to file their taxes on a single card.

The Senate plan could add as much as $1.5 trillion to the nation’s publicly held debt during the next decade. Portman and other GOP lawmakers say the tax reductions will spark the economy and generate more tax revenue, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has projected that even without any change in tax laws, the federal government will add a staggering $10 trillion to the publicly held debt during the next decade.

Michael Peterson, president and chief executive officer of the Peterson Foundation, a non-profit in Washington, D.C., that champions lower deficits, said “this bill passes the buck to the next generation,” adding that “voluntarily adding another $1.5 trillion to our national debt is going in the wrong direction.”

Michael Dulman of the Washington Bureau contributed to this story.

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Trump presses for teachers to carry concealed weapons as part of plans to deter school shootings

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 9:38 AM

With political pressure for action in the wake of last week’s mass school shooting in Florida, President Donald Trump on Thursday said he supports the idea of allowing some teachers to carry concealed weapons in schools, proposing that those teachers get bonuses for helping with security improvements to deter school shootings in the future.

“What I would recommend doing, is that the people who do carry (a weapon), we give them a bonus,” the President said in a round table meeting at the White House with state and local officials, arguing that is a much less expensive option than hiring thousands of armed guards.

“So, practically for free – you have now made the school into a hardened target,” the President added.

At the meeting, and earlier in the day on Twitter, the President set out a series of different ideas that he said would help with school security.

+ Stronger school security, by hardening entrance points to schools.
+ Allowing teachers and administrators to carry a firearm in a school.
+ Stronger background checks on guns sales, emphasizing mental health information.
+ Raising the minimum age – from 18 to 21 – to purchase a powerful weapon like an AR-15.
+ Doing more to provide mental health treatment to people – like the Florida shooter – who have been identified to authorities.
+ Ending the sale of ‘bump stocks,’ which can make semi-automatic weapons fire at a faster rate.

Mr. Trump said he was confident that the National Rifle Association would get behind his plans, including the change in the minimum age to purchase long guns.

“I spoke to them, and they’re ready to do things – they want to do things,” the President said, referring to NRA members as ‘patriots and good people.’

But in the Congress, there were already signs that changing the minimum age for buying an AR-15 would face GOP opposition.

“Why should a 20yr old single mom be denied the right to defend herself and her kids?” asked Rep. Tom Massie (R-KY) on Twitter. “We should lower the age to buy a handgun to 18, instead of raising the age to buy an AR15.”

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Trump backs arming “highly trained teachers” over school guards to deter future school shootings

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 3:00 AM

A day after an emotional meeting with parents and family members to discuss the threat of school shootings in the United States, President Donald Trump on Thursday signaled his strong support for the idea of allowing some teachers and administrators to carry a firearm at schools, in order to form a first line of defense.

“Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive,” the President tweeted, arguing it would stop any “savage sicko” who was intent on attacking students.

“Far more assets at much less cost than guards,” the President tweeted, as he said undefended schools are a “magnet for bad people.”

“ATTACKS WOULD END!” the President added. “GREAT DETERRENT!”

In a series of morning tweets, Mr. Trump first objected to news reports which he said he would support arming teachers, and then went on to detail how this would be a special plan for only certain people at a school.

The President’s comments came hours before a second day of meetings on school security, as he prepared to meet with state and local officials; the White House had not made public who would be in that meeting in the Roosevelt Room.

In his Wednesday meeting, which featured wrenching stories from parents who lost children, and students who lost friends last week in Parkland, Florida, the President emphasized a series of themes:

+ Stronger school security, by hardening entrance points to schools.
+ Allowing teachers and administrators to carry a firearm in a school.
+ Stronger background checks on guns sales, though Mr. Trump has yet to define exactly what that would entail.
+ Raising the age to purchase a powerful weapon like an AR-15.
+ Doing more to provide mental health treatment to people – like the Florida shooter – who have been identified to authorities.

In Congress, Democrats were calling on the President to take extra steps toward gun control – but it was not clear if Mr. Trump would do that, even as the White House said earlier in the week that items like a ban on assault weapons was on the table for discussion.

Democrats pointed the finger at the National Rifle Association for the lack of action on the issue in House and Senate.

“The NRA has been an implacable enemy of legal mechanisms to enforce gun laws,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).

But with a solid majority in the Congress right now favoring the side of gun rights, any quick move to press forward with gun controls seemed to be remote – unless it drew support from the President himself.

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Trump backs arming “highly trained teachers” over school guards to deter future school shootings

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 3:00 AM

A day after an emotional meeting with parents and family members to discuss the threat of school shootings in the United States, President Donald Trump on Thursday signaled his strong support for the idea of allowing some teachers and administrators to carry a firearm at schools, in order to form a first line of defense.

“Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive,” the President tweeted.

“Far more assets at much less cost than guards,” the President tweeted, as he said undefended schools are a “magnet for bad people.”

“ATTACKS WOULD END!” the President added. “GREAT DETERRENT!”

In a series of morning tweets, Mr. Trump first objected to news reports which he said he would support arming teachers, and then went on to detail how this would be a special plan for only certain people at a school.

The President’s comments came hours before a second day of meetings on school security, as he prepared to meet with state and local officials; the White House had not made public who would be in that meeting in the Roosevelt Room.

In his Wednesday meeting, which featured wrenching stories from parents who lost children, and students who lost friends last week in Parkland, Florida, the President emphasized a series of themes:

+ Stronger school security, by hardening entrance points to schools.
+ Allowing teachers and administrators to carry a firearm in a school.
+ Stronger background checks on guns sales, though Mr. Trump has yet to define exactly what that would entail.
+ Raising the age to purchase a powerful weapon like an AR-15.
+ Doing more to provide mental health treatment to people – like the Florida shooter – who have been identified to authorities.

In Congress, Democrats were calling on the President to take extra steps toward gun control – but it was not clear if Mr. Trump would do that, even as the White House said earlier in the week that items like a ban on assault weapons was on the table for discussion.

Democrats pointed the finger at the National Rifle Association for the lack of action on the issue in House and Senate.

“The NRA has been an implacable enemy of legal mechanisms to enforce gun laws,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).

But with a solid majority in the Congress right now favoring the side of gun rights, any quick move to press forward with gun controls seemed to be remote – unless it drew support from the President himself.

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Trump searches for answers amid wrenching stories from Florida school shooting

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 12:54 PM

Hearing from parents and students who lost friends and family members in last week’s school shooting in Florida, President Donald Trump said it was time for the nation to work together to better safeguard schools, as he advocated stronger security including the possibility of allowing teachers and administrators to carry concealed weapons during the school day.

“It’s very difficult, it’s very complex, but we’ll find a solution,” the President said as he wrapped the over hour long listening session, which featured tears from parents and students.

“I’m never going to see my kid again, I want you all to know that,” said Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was among those killed last week in Florida.

“My beautiful daughter, I’m never going to see again,” Pollack added, flanked by his two sons.

The over hour long session was respectful on all sides, as parents and students pleaded with the President to do something to end school shootings.

“I was actually in the second classroom that was shot at,” said Jonathan Blank, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

“In my mind, as a kid, nothing that horrible should ever have to happen to you,” Blank added.

Echoing some of the calls for action by other Douglas students, Sam Zeif used his time before the President to make a tearful plea for change on powerful weapons like the AR-15.

“I don’t understand why I could still go into a store and buy a weapon of war,” Zeif said, fighting back tears.

“I don’t know how I’m ever going to step foot in that place again,” Zeif said of his school.

As for the President, he listened quietly as students and parents told their stories and made their requests – Mr. Trump said he’s still developing his plan to deal with school shootings, but seemed to outline a series of ideas that he backs:

+ Stronger school security, by hardening entrance points to schools.
+ Allowing teachers and administrators to carry a firearm in a school.
+ Stronger background checks on guns sales, though Mr. Trump has yet to define exactly what that would entail.
+ Raising the age to purchase a powerful weapon like an AR-15.
+ Doing more to provide mental health treatment to people – like the Florida shooter – who have been identified to authorities.

“If you have a teacher – who was adept at firearms – you could very well end the attack very quickly,” the President said of the idea of concealed carry in schools, as he compared it to airline pilots being allowed to carry a gun in the aftermath of the Nine Eleven attacks.

“If these cowards knew that the school was well guarded,” the President said, “I don’t think they would go into the school in the first place.”

“Thank you for pouring out your hearts, because the world is watching,” the President said as he wrapped up the White House event.

“We’re going to come up with a solution.”

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