Pres­i­dent pitches tax re­form in visit to Pa.

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Cather­ine Lucey and Josh Boak

MIDDLETOWN, PA. » Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pitched his tax plan as a boost for truck­ers at an event in Penn­syl­va­nia on Wednesday, say­ing “Amer­ica first means putting Amer­i­can truck­ers first.”

Trump ap­peared be­fore about 1,000 cheer­ing peo­ple at an air­plane hangar, dra­mat­i­cally draped with Amer­i­can flags. Two big rigs were in the back­ground, part of the pres­i­dent’s ef­fort to pitch his tax over­haul as a boon for truck­ers.

The pres­i­dent has been trav­el­ing the coun­try to pro­mote a plan that would dra­mat­i­cally cut cor­po­rate tax rates from 35 per­cent to 20 per­cent, re­duce the num­ber of per­sonal in­come tax brack­ets and boost the stan­dard de­duc­tion.

At his lat­est stop, Trump planned to ar­gue that his tax re­form frame­work would ben­e­fit truck­ers by low­er­ing their tax rates, boost­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing, and mak­ing it eas­ier for fam­i­lies to pass their truck­ing busi­nesses on to their chil­dren.

“When your trucks are mov­ing, Amer­ica is grow­ing,” Trump said at Har­ris­burg In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Middletown.

Trump is div­ing back into the tax fight after weeks in which his at­ten­tion has shifted to rapidly emerg­ing crises — in­clud­ing the mass shoot­ing in Las Ve­gas and the hur­ri­cane re­cov­ery ef­fort in Puerto Rico — as well as dra­mas of his own mak­ing, such as his es­ca­lat­ing feud with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and pub­lic ten­sion with Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son.

Taxes are the chief leg­isla­tive pri­or­ity for Repub­li­cans hun­gry for a ma­jor leg­isla­tive achieve­ment. With the 2018 cam­paign year loom­ing, GOP law­mak­ers want some­thing to show for their time as the ma­jor­ity party, and tax leg­is­la­tion re­mains their best hope.

Trump has left it up to Con­gress to fill in many specifics of his plan, which omits de­tails such as the in­come lev­els for his new tax brack­ets. The out­reach to truck­ers in Penn­syl­va­nia is an at­tempt to give a bluecol­lar ap­peal to a frame­work that out­side tax an­a­lysts say would largely fa­vor the wealthy.

About two-thirds of truck­ing firms are struc­tured as small busi­nesses in which the prof­its dou­ble as the own­ers’ in­come, what’s com­monly known as “pass-through” companies, said Chris Spear, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tions. The frame­work would cut the tax rate for these firms to 25 per­cent from 39.6 per­cent. “It’s pretty crit­i­cal for our mem­ber­ship,” Spear said.

But the lib­eral Cen­ter on Bud­get and Pol­icy Pri­or­i­ties said few truck­ers would ben­e­fit from this pref­er­en­tial rate be­cause the ma­jor­ity of truck drivers are em­ploy­ees rather than pass-through busi­ness own­ers, based on its anal­y­sis of Cen­sus data.

Repub­li­cans in Con­gress aren’t solidly be­hind Trump, with some from high-tax states balk­ing be­cause the frame­work calls for elim­i­nat­ing the fed­eral de­duc­tion for state and lo­cal taxes. That de­duc­tion is claimed by an es­ti­mated 44 mil­lion peo­ple and costs the gov­ern­ment an es­ti­mated $1.3 tril­lion in lost rev­enue over 10 years.

Frac­tious Repub­li­can law­mak­ers, es­pe­cially those from New York, New Jer­sey and Cal­i­for­nia, are wary of the po­ten­tial fi­nan­cial hit to their con­stituents. They con­tend re­peal­ing the de­duc­tion would sub­ject peo­ple to be­ing taxed twice.

“They need our votes” on the tax plan, said Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., a mem­ber of the group.

Dis­cus­sions with House lead­ers on a pos­si­ble com­pro­mise took place last week but are on hold, Collins and other law­mak­ers in the group said Wednesday. They said they were con­fi­dent of a com­pro­mise.

Trump planned to high­light the tax plan’s pro­vi­sions aimed at en­cour­ag­ing in­ter­na­tional companies to bring back, or repa­tri­ate, cash that they’ve kept over­seas. All told, there’s more than $1 tril­lion in cash held abroad by S&P 500 companies, ac­cord­ing to Deutsche Bank.

“We will elim­i­nate the penalty on re­turn­ing fu­ture earn­ings back to the United States and we will im­pose a one-time low tax on money cur­rently parked over­seas so it can be brought back home to Amer­ica, where it be­longs,” Trump said in the pre­pared ex­cerpts.


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks about tax re­form dur­ing an event at the Har­ris­burg In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Wednesday in Middletown, Pa.

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