by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill
I’ve done a lot of town halls around Missouri—nearly 50 of them just this year—many in rural areas that remind me of where I grew up, in Houston, and Lebanon, Missouri.
These are communities of working families, some of whom are living paycheck-to-paycheck, trying to earn enough money to pay their bills, afford their prescription drugs, or try to put their kids through college. These are folks who want to see a fairer system for the middle class—and I agree with them.
Here’s the good news. Congress has an opportunity this year to put a little more money in the pockets of working families, while protecting their retirement accounts, and streamlining and simplifying something no American I’ve ever met is fond of: the U.S. tax code.
The White House and Republican leaders in Congress have released a framework—though as of today, no specifics—for their tax plan. I’ve talked at my town halls about the deep concerns I have with that framework, because it’s one that will mainly give large tax breaks to corporations and the very wealthy, all while adding to our deficit and doing nothing to help Missouri’s middle class families. Some Republican leaders in Congress have even suggested that when they release the details of the plan, it will include cuts to people’s 401k retirement accounts—and that’s something I will not support, because there’s no way Congress should be cutting taxes for the rich by cutting working people’s retirement accounts.
But I’m remaining stubbornly optimistic—an outlook my parents instilled in me when I was young—in the hopes I can work with the President and his team on changes to their tax plan to make it benefit the folks who need tax relief the most.
Recently, I had dinner with President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner to discuss the tax framework—and it was a productive meeting, though without a detailed plan to discuss, we were only able to speak in broad strokes.
I also recently had the chance to sit down with President Trump himself, to discuss his tax plan face-to-face. I emphasized to the President my willingness to work with him on tax reform that benefits the middle class, and was reassured when he said he’s not interested in passing a tax cut for the rich.
The President and I also agreed on the importance of having the details of the tax plan to have any hope of making bipartisan headway, and I am hopeful we will see those details soon. Without them, all we have is a framework that would leave Missouri families behind. And that’s not something I can support.
Supporting tax cuts for working families is nothing new for me. I teamed up with my Republican friend, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, on a bill to cut taxes on businesses and extend the payroll tax cut, and I was a strong supporter of the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which made permanent President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for almost 98% of Missourians.
I remain hopeful we’ll see a bill that continues those efforts and puts Missouri’s working families first. If we do, I’m all for it.