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U.S. Senator Joe Manchin ‘excited’ to work with Trump on tax reform issue

By IAN HICKS

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Although he seems to agree with at least some of their demands, Sen. Joe Manchin was one of only three Democratic senators who didn’t sign a letter sent this week by the Senate Democratic Caucus to President Donald Trump and other GOP leaders outlining conditions for working together on tax reform.

Among other demands, the letter, sent Tuesday, states Democrats won’t support any tax reform package that lowers taxes for the top 1 percent of earners or increases the tax burden on the middle class, according to published reports.

The other Democrats who did not sign the letter are Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.

“He just feels its better to work in a bipartisan manner on major pieces of legislation,”Manchin spokesman Jonathan Kott said Thursday.

According to Manchin’s office, the senator wants to see a tax reform package that creates no new debt, lowers corporate tax rates while simplifying the tax code for individuals and implements a “territorial” tax system — one in which only income from domestic sources is subject to tax.

Like Manchin, the Democrats — and two Independents who caucus with them — who signed the letter said they can’t support deficit-financed tax reform. They said doing so would endanger programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

“I didn’t sign that letter because press releases don’t solve problems, people do. Now is not the time to make tax reform harder,” Manchin said in a release welcoming Trump to West Virginia, where he spoke in Huntington Thursday evening. “Now is the time to get everyone involved and put everything on the table. My only prerequisite is that whatever we pass makes the lives of West Virginians better.”

Manchin — who, like Heitkamp and Donnelly, faces re-election next year in a state that supported Trump by a wide margin in 2016 — said he’s “particularly excited” to work with the president on tax reform.

“But we need to start our work now. Each side is already going to their political corners: the Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he intends to pass tax reform with only Republican votes and only Republican input,” Manchin said in the release. “I hope the president will reject this flawed approach.”

Trump’s tax reform proposal would would reduce the top corporate tax rate by 20 percentage points and allow private business owners to claim the new lower rate for their take-home pay, according to The Associated Press. It would decrease the number of tax brackets for individuals from seven to three, lower the top tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent and double the standard amount taxpayers could deduct.

It would eliminate the estate tax and reduce taxes on investments, typically paid by wealthier Americans. Trump’s plan would further reduce the tax burden for the wealthy by eliminating the catch-all alternative minimum tax, which takes an additional bite out of high-income Americans.

More lower-income Americans would pay no tax at all, and there would be relief for families with child care expenses, although it’s unclear what form that would take.

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