Bloomington-Normal’s two Republican congressmen said Wednesday that their vote in support of the GOP tax bill will help middle-income earners in Central Illinois, denying that the measure disproportionately benefits wealthier Americans and companies.
U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood both supported the $1.5 trillion package during a final revote Wednesday in Washington, sending it to President Donald Trump’s desk for an expected signature. The tax overhaul will bring generous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and billions will be added to the national debt. The package, billed as a huge boon for the middle class and a spark to economic growth, provides smaller tax cuts for middle- and low-income families.
“This is a great bill. This will put more money in the pockets of middle- and lower income families in Central Illinois. The average taxpayer will pocket $1,200,” Davis told GLT. “That’s what I came to Washington to do. (I wanted to) make the tax code that’s now 70,000 pages fairer, flattered, and simpler. And that’s exactly what this bill does.”
The bill would give most Americans a tax cut next year, but it would by far benefit the richest Americans the most. The measure also slashes the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The tax cuts for business are permanent, but reductions for individuals and families expire after a decade. The standard deduction used by around two-thirds of Americans will nearly double to $24,000 for married couples.
Those expiring tax cuts are one reason critics say the bill is a bad deal for the middle class. Davis blamed Senate Democrats for the expiration issue, saying their opposition to the bill forced Republicans to use a legislative maneuver that allowed for a simple-majority vote—and the expiration date.
“We can fix that. All we need is some Democrat votes in the Senate,” said Davis, a Taylorville Republican. “That’s why when you look at the (analysis of the bill), they’re going to say, ‘10 years from now, taxes are gonna go up.’ That’s not gonna be the case because I’m going to introduce a bill that will make those individual tax cuts permanent.”
LaHood, a Peoria Republican, said the business tax cuts were one of the reasons he supported the bill. He said the bill will get the “economy healthy, thriving, and roaring again.”
“Talk to any business and ask what they’re gonna do with this extra money,” LaHood told GLT. “They’re going to hire more people, invest in higher wages, and re-invest in their companies. We think that’s a good thing in terms of creating jobs and economic opportunities.”
What's in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act?
✅ Significantly increases the standard deduction to protect roughly double the amount of what you earn each year
✅ Expands the child tax credit to $2,000
✅ Lowers the corporate tax rate to 21% pic.twitter.com/e8Dh4BWdqt
— Darin LaHood (@RepLaHood) December 19, 2017
The Republican tax overhaul plan has proven unpopular with voters. Just 26 percent of Americans approve of the plan, according to a poll released Monday by Monmouth University, compared with 47 percent who disapprove of it.
Davis, who faces a tough re-election bid in 2018 and has already attracted five Democratic challengers, said he’s not concerned about selling the bill to his constituents.
“They’re going to be convinced themselves when their paychecks in February go up,” Davis said. “The rhetoric they’ve heard—that it’s all going to the wealthy—is just not true.”
The tax bill also repeals the individual mandate, the part of the Affordable Care Act that imposes a tax penalty for failing to purchase health insurance. Trump-backed GOP efforts to undo the health care legislation failed repeatedly earlier this year, and congressional lawmakers are debating needed fixes to the bill to stabilize the individual marketplace.
The Congressional Budget Office projects the individual mandate’s repeal will lead to 13 million fewer people with insurance. The CBO also says that premiums will be about 10 percent higher.
LaHood said he’s long been concerned about the Affordable Care Act, and that high health care costs are the No. 1 concern of people in his 18th Congressional District.
Health care “should be the No. 1 thing we focus on next year,” LaHood said.
You can also listen to GLT's full report on the tax bill vote:
The Associated Press and NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben contributed to this story.
WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.