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New York, Connecticut, New Jersey Officials Condemn Tax Overhaul

J. Scott Applewhite
President Trump, escorted by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, arrives at the Capitol to meet with GOP lawmakers about passing the GOP tax bill.

The governors of New York, California and New Jersey on Monday strongly condemned the GOP tax bill now before Congress, saying it is unfair to their states and will wreak havoc on the U.S. economy.  

In a conference call, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the federal tax overhaul plan that severely restricts state and local tax deductions is “political retaliation” against 12 states that are run by Democrats. The states have relatively high taxes, and the loss of the deductions will mean middle and upper middle class residents, and wealthy residents will pay more in what Cuomo calls “double taxation.”

He says they are also among the richest and most economically successful states in the nation, and together represent 40 percent of the gross domestic product.

“You’re going to help the American economy,” said Cuomo, repeating the Republican’s rationale for supporting the bill. “How do you do that by assaulting 12 states that represent 40 percent of the GDP?”  

Governor Jerry Brown of California calls the tax plan “evil” and says it will cost California’s economy $40 billion. Brown, apparently at times banging his hand on his desk, said the tax bill is “ripping the country apart.”

“There’s never been a time when Republicans have been so far from Democrats. You cannot govern a country with that type of divisiveness,” said Brown. “This is not just a moving around of tax money, this is potentially a ratcheting up of the undermining of our country.” 

The U.S. Senate and House have now approved similar tax plans and are in conference committees to craft a final bill. But New Jersey Governor–elect Phil Murphy says he does not believe the fight is over yet. All three states have Republican congressional representatives, and he says if more of them vote no on the final bill, then the plan would be defeated. No Democrats are expected to vote for the measure.

“We may be in the 9th inning,” said Murphy. “But it’s not over yet.”

Governor Cuomo predicts GOP House members who vote for the tax overhaul will be put out of office by voters in November.

“A congressperson who votes for this, there’s no going home again in my opinion,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo, echoing the language of the republicans who opposed the Affordable Care Act, says if the measure does ultimately pass, then the very next day he’ll lead a movement to repeal and replace what he calls the “divisive” tax act.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., also says the bills are bad for Connecticut. He says his constituents would be hit hard by the loss of the federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes.

Blumenthal calls the bills a bait and switch, saying they transfer wealth from the middle class to the rich, ”because they make promises of tax cuts that will terminate for the middle class in the Senate bill, and they amount to crumbs compared to the massive amounts that would go to the wealthiest.”

Speaking to reporters in Hartford, Blumenthal acknowledged that the GOP bills would likely soon become law because the U.S. House leadership does not want any further debate.

“They care less what’s in it than just getting it done before the end of the year. So they are likely to take the Senate bill and ram it through the House.”

Blumenthal says he and his fellow Democrats are trying to educate the public about what’s in the bills in the hopes that some changes can be made before the GOP federal tax overhaul becomes law.

He says, for example, under the bills Connecticut homeowners with crumbling foundations would not be allowed federal tax deductions for repairs done to their homes after December 31. He says with public pressure this could easily be fixed.

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