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Doing nothing on tax bill could prove good politics for Democrats

Emma Dumain, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

Democrats who are fighting for re-election next year in state President Donald Trump won were more circumspect. On Thursday, a few emphasized their independence and willingness to work with the GOP.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio said he had a proposal to increase the value of earned income and child tax credits, which Trump has praised. One problem, said Brown, was that "Republican leadership is not listening to the president on things he likes."

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said she would determine on her own if and how she'll work with Republicans on rewriting the tax code.

"I'm looking at this as an individual senator," she said. "Will it actually, permanently provide tax relief to the middle class? Or is this a total sop to wealthy people? And that's all I'm looking at. I could (not) care less what the party line is. I could (not) care less what Chuck Schumer says."

Ultimately, Democrats' boycott will only be as successful as the Republicans' tax overhaul itself. Democrats are counting on winning the messaging wars and the public's perception that they are the heroes of the middle class -- not the GOP.

Democrats might have some leverage. Despite spending the last week touting their "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" as legislation designed to help working men, women and families, House Republicans struggled to stay on message.

Just as the Ways and Means Committee was preparing to adopt its tax bill Thursday, it adopted concessions to quiet protests from the small business community that accused the GOP of shortchanging entrepreneurs.

House Republicans also sought to counter criticism of their bill's cap on state and local tax deductions, which could hurt homeowners in high-tax areas. The Senate GOP is mulling eliminating deductions entirely, even after a Democrat won the Virginia governor's race in part by wooing suburbanites.

"It will favor big wealthy corporations, wealthy individuals and do harm or nothing much for the middle class," Schumer said of the Republican proposals. "That's not what the American people want."


There were already signs on Thursday that the strength of the GOP's narrative had potential for erosion.

"Fundamentally, this is a corporate business tax bill. It's what it really is," Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., told McClatchy.

As of Thursday afternoon, he was still undecided on how he would vote when the House bill comes to the floor next week.

(Lesley Clark and Emily Cadei contributed to this report.)

(c)2017 McClatchy Washington Bureau

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