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Latta says tax reform must focus on middle class families, businesses

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    Sen. Rob Portman, left, and Rep. Bob Latta.

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    U.S. Representative Bob Latta's suggestion that the Republican tax-reform bill could be adjusted drew criticism from the Wall Street Journal.

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    Sen. Rob Portman

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U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) suggested Saturday that the Republican tax-reform bill could be adjusted, including a measure that drew harsh condemnation from the Wall Street Journal.

The tax reform bill that was outlined by House leaders on Thursday could pass Congress if enough Republicans agree to support it, but at least one prominent conservative publication, the Wall Street Journal, two days in a row attacked the bill as “a mess.”

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Sen. Rob Portman, left, and Rep. Bob Latta.

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In an editorial released online Friday and published in the paper’s print edition on Saturday, the Journal condemned an aspect of the GOP-backed bill that adds to the tax bill of certain higher-income taxpayers.

The editorial argues the reform proposal contains a “stealthy 45.6 percent marginal tax rate on some high earners,” adding, “Republicans ought to kill this gift to the left that will be slapped on more Americans when Democrats return to power.”

Mr. Latta, a member of the majority party that controls the content of the bill, said it’s a start toward tax reform, but will undergo some changes.

“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has many provisions that will benefit Ohioans at all income levels. In fact, the average middle-class family will see savings of nearly $1,200 a year under this plan. In addition, the pro-growth policies that are included, such as the 25 percent rate for small businesses, will boost our economy, create jobs, and raise wages for workers,” Mr. Latta said in a statement that was emailed to The Blade in response to a request for comment about the Wall Street Journal editorial opinion.

“As the tax plan works its way through the legislative process, there are sure to be changes, and that is a good thing. There have been proposed adjustments from a number of different sources, including the Wall Street Journal editorial board, but ultimately it’s critical that the focus of tax reform remain on providing much needed relief to middle-class families and small businesses,” Mr. Latta said in the statement issued by his office.

The Journal argues the provision institutes a 45.6 percent marginal rate on earnings between $1.2 million and about $1.6 million for married couples, then the rate returns to 39.6 percent.

“Voters might as well have elected Hillary Clinton,” the business-oriented publication observed.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Urbana) said, “I’m against raising taxes on any Americans. We need legislation that lowers rates for middle-class families and simplifies the tax code, creating an environment for economic growth. We’re fighting to get that done for the American people.”

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) attacked the Republican bill as primarily benefiting big corporations and the wealthy.

Miss Kaptur, who shares representation of Lucas County with Mr. Latta, said the bill has not been studied enough to be well understood, and yet is said to be headed for an early vote.

“If they bring this up for a vote next week I’m voting ‘no,’” Miss Kaptur said. “There’s just a general summary right now but it appears that 80 percent of the benefits go to large transnational corporations and individuals earning more than $730,000 or $750,000 per year.”

Rep. Tim Walberg (R., Tipton, Mich.) — did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the Wall Street Journal editorial.

Ohio’s two U.S. senators issued statements that steered clear of the issue of the 45.6 percent “bubble bracket” that has raised the hackles of some conservatives.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) issued a statement that commented positively on the House bill while noting that the Senate would produce its own tax reform plan.

“I look forward to reviewing the details of the House’s tax reform plan as we in the Senate continue to finalize our proposal. The Senate Finance Committee has held 70 hearings on tax reform over the last five years, and I’m looking forward to a full debate and committee consideration of our proposal in the coming weeks,” Mr. Portman said.

“It is now time to deliver results for the American people by reducing the tax burden on the middle class, helping American businesses grow and prosper, and creating better jobs and wages for our workers,” Mr. Portman said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) said he is glad that the House bill does not roll back any of the tax benefits of retirement savings plans, attributing that to an outpouring of opposition. He said President Trump agrees with him on this issue.

“President Trump and I agree that tax reform should put money back in the pockets of working Americans and make it easier for them to save — not hand a tax cut to corporations who outsource jobs. I hope he will work with me to do that in the Senate bill,” Mr. Brown’s bill said.

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