Politics

The Republican tax plan is out, and Kentucky’s elected representatives are weighing in. Predictably, they fall into three camps: Republicans, Democrat and Rand Paul.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act narrows the individual tax brackets down to four and drops corporate taxes from 35 percent to 4 percent. It expands the child tax credit, and eliminates deductions for state and local income and sales taxes. Check out more of the highlights from NPR here.

The measure is before the House of Representatives, but in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell applauded the measure.

“I commend Chairman Kevin Brady and the members of the Ways and Means Committee for all of their hard work to put forward this critical tax relief bill that could provide a typical middle-income family of four earning $59,000 with an approximate tax cut of $1,200 a year,” he said in a subsequent news release. “That’s real money for people across our country and in our home states, including mine, from Paducah to Hazard to Florence.”

Congressman Thomas Massie told member station WKYU in Bowling Green that he’s confident the tax bill will pass, and that Republicans are excited about the plan.

“So let me tell you, the response of the Republicans who were in the room today — this was a closed meeting — there was a lot of cheering, and not much groaning, which is not common in these closed meetings.”

Meanwhile Rep. Andy Barr appeared on Fox Business Wednesday, telling anchor Maria Bartiromo that he believes the plan will cut middle class taxes and lower the corporate tax rate.

“Again, the core of this is going to be lowering middle class taxes,” Barr said.

In an e-mailed statement, Congressmen James Comer wrote:

“President Trump’s tax cut plan means a simplified tax code and a pay raise for working Kentuckians. I look forward to working with the President as we deliver badly needed tax relief for working families.”

Congressman Brett Guthrie also expressed support.

“Kentuckians are fed up with our complicated federal tax code,” he wrote. “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will put money back into the paychecks of hardworking Kentuckians and will help grow our economy. This groundbreaking bill simplifies and lowers our tax brackets and doubles the standard deduction while preserving important credits that help all families and single workers make ends meet.”

Congressman Hal Rogers has yet to weigh in on the plan.

The delegation’s lone Democrat — Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville — had a different interpretation of the bill.

“Now that House Republicans have finally released their tax plan we can see that the wealthy and powerful corporations are the overwhelming winners,” he said in a news release.

“Millions of hard-working families get nothing under their plan, and in many cases will pay more. Deficits will skyrocket, weakening our economy and ultimately slowing job growth. This will be followed by demands from Republicans to cut Medicare, Social Security and other critical investments in our nation’s future.

“This is not tax reform – it’s a multi-trillion dollar gift to the well-off and well-connected, and a complete abdication of any responsibility to help families struggling to get ahead.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Sen. Rand Paul hadn’t released a statement about the final version of the tax bill. But he’s spent the past few days talking about how a key element for him is the repeal of the individual mandate to purchase health insurance — an idea which President Trump endorsed on Twitter.

 

On Wednesday, Paul spoke to Fox News about the plan.

“I’ve been concerned all along that the tax plan may or may not have a good tax cut for the middle class,” he said. “But if you repeal the individual mandate, you help to fulfill our promise that you shouldn’t force people to buy insurance, but that also has a large cost to government and when that is removed, it allows us to actually give the middle class more of a tax cut.”

The repeal of the individual mandate isn’t included in the House version of the GOP plan, but Paul said he hopes to get it into the Senate bill.

This post has been updated.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Assignment Editor.