GOP lawmakers tout tax overhaul plan at tool factory

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Lansing — Three Michigan Republican congressmen touted the House’s tax overhaul at a Lansing machine tool shop on Monday, arguing that the tax cuts will lead to a better business climate and lower taxes for workers.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, told reporters in the Lansing-based IMPCO machine tool shop that the GOP-led effort to rewrite the U.S. tax code would simplify the system and create one of the world’s best corporate tax climates. The number of income tax brackets would be reduced from seven to four and rates would be lowered.

Mitchell, a Dryden Republican, said they’re aiming to meet a Christmas deadline set by President Donald Trump to sign tax reform into law.

“And ultimately who will win? The workers of the United States,” Walberg said, calling America “the absolute worst tax country in the world of all developed, all industrialized, countries.”

The plan the House passed on Thursday would cut taxes by more than $1.4 trillion over the next decade and cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Pass-through businesses — the majority of the country’s companies whose owners report their income by filing income taxes — would pay a maximum 25 percent rate or lower compared with the current maximum personal income tax rate of 39.6 percent.

On personal income taxes, the House plan sets rates of 12, 25, 35 and 39.6 percent, while increasing the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples.

Democrats such as Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint Township have called the House plan a “scam for working families” that delivers “huge tax cuts for the wealthy.”

The three GOP congressmen, including Rep. Paul Mitchell of Dryden, said the changes would boost the nation’s economy after years of slow growth and argued that the average American family of four would save $1,182 a year under the proposal.

They also defended the plan against arguments by Democrats such as Rep. Debbie Dingell of Dearborn that it would hurt college students. The bill would allow the federal government to tax graduate students’ and college employees’ tuition waivers because a deduction is eliminated.

“Our country is a crossroads, and the past eight years we’ve seen just about zero economic growth,” said Mike Bishop, a Rochester Republican, referring to growth rates below 2 percent during the Obama administration. “We can either stay on this path, which I believe is unacceptable, or we can go on a different path that delivers real opportunity and growth.

“Our bill drastically simplifies the American tax code,” he continued.

Democrats have criticized the House plan because individual taxpayers below $50,000 in income would eventually experience a tax hike by 2023 — in part because a new $300 credit for each filer and their non-child dependents would expire. Republicans have argued Congress at that time would face political pressure and extend the $300 credit.

Walberg told reporters that the White House has been “fully engaged in working this through” and expressed his hope that the Senate will quickly get on board. Republicans hold a narrow 52-48 edge in the Senate, where some GOP members have criticized some parts of their own plan.

Walberg said House leaders are willing to negotiate with the Senate, too.

“I hesitate taking anything off the table right now in how we deal with the Senate. Let them do their work how we did our work. ... Let nothing get in the way,” he said.