December 06, 2017

Liberal research institute urges GOP leadership to include Rubio amendment in tax bill

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@alextdaugherty

Sen. Marco Rubio's effort to include an expanded and fully refundable child tax credit appeared to die when the Senate voted down the proposal on Friday night, but a liberal Washington-based research institute is urging the Florida Republican to revive his effort as the House and Senate hash out their differences on a final tax bill this week. 

Rubio's proposal with Utah Sen. Mike Lee would raise a proposed cut to the corporate tax rate from 20 percent to 20.9 percent to pay for a child tax credit that reduces some families’ tax bill for every child they have under the age of 17.

"During the Senate debate, the Senate rejected the Rubio-Lee amendment, but now that the bill is in a conference committee with the House, the only route for Senators Rubio and Lee is to use the leverage of their votes to secure this change — as Senator (Ron) Johnson did to secure a larger tax cut for wealthy investors," wrote Chuck Marr, the director of federal tax policy for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "Otherwise, Republicans will cement their choice to pass a $1.5 trillion tax bill without providing virtually any meaningful relief to the lowest-income working families."

Rubio and Lee have not given any indication that they will vote against a tax bill that doesn't include their amendment. Both Republicans voted for the Senate bill which passed with a 51-49 majority.

"Adopting the Rubio-Lee amendment wouldn’t fix either the Republican tax bill’s extreme tilt to the top or its fiscal profligacy, nor would it change the fact that key congressional Republicans are already saying they will seek to pay for their tax cuts next year by cutting programs that support low-income working families. But this modest change would allow millions of low- and moderate-income working families to fare somewhat better." 

Hours after the Senate pass their version of a tax overhaul, President Donald Trump said he'd potentially be open to raising the corporate tax rate cut to 22 percent instead of 20 percent after multiple Republicans said a 20 percent corporate rate was the highest they could support. The current corporate tax rate is 35 percent. 

"It could be 22 when it all comes out, but it could also be 20," Trump said. "We’ll see what ultimately comes out." 

Rubio and Lee's amendment failed by a vote of 29 to 71, and the 29 votes included some Democrats like Florida Sen. Bill Nelson

Read the entire post by Marr here.

December 04, 2017

Progressive group targets Carlos Curbelo over tax bill

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@alextdaugherty

Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo is a champion of the tax overhaul plan that passed the Senate over the weekend, frequently appearing with House Speaker Paul Ryan and touting the bill in Spanish. 

But as the House and Senate confer on a compromise tax bill to send to President Donald Trump's desk, Curbelo is being targeted by a progressive group that's hitting vulnerable GOP incumbents who supported the tax plan. 

Not One Penny is blasting the tax bill and pressuring Curbelo as part of a seven-figure nationwide ad buy, the first time that the progressive group has launched a widespread campaign against incumbent Republicans. Curbelo represents the most Democratic-leaning congressional district in the country currently held by a Republican who is up for reelection in 2018.

The 30-second spot claims that the Curbelo-supported tax bill will raise taxes on 36 million middle class families. 

"Representative Curbelo continues to blindly support tax legislation that is nothing more than a giveaway to millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations," said Not One Penny spokesman Tim Hogan. "Republicans are looting the middle class in order to line the pocket of the wealthy and well-connected. As the focus once again turns to the House, Representative Curbelo should stand up for his constituents instead of his wealthy donors and vote against this harmful legislation."

 

December 01, 2017

Rubio fails in push to increase child tax credit with higher corporate taxes

Marco Rubio 3

@alextdaugherty

Sen. Marco Rubio has been pushing an expanded child tax credit for weeks, but an effort to make the credit fully refundable by slightly raising a proposed cut on corporate taxes failed late Friday night on the Senate floor. 

Rubio and Utah Sen. Mike Lee's amendment to raise corporate taxes by .94 percent to 20.94 percent went down on a 29-71 vote on Friday after Democrats decided not to support an amendment that would have made the bill slightly more palatable to them. 

Rubio and Lee could have held up the tax bill by insisting on the amendment's passage in exchange for their support, but chose not to. Both senators are expected to vote in favor of the final bill. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker has said he will vote against the bill because it does not do enough to help the deficit, but every other Republican Senator has indicated that they will likely support the bill. Three Republican no votes combined with united Democratic opposition would stop the bill. 

"Today, the Senate missed an opportunity to help working families by strengthening the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit," said First Five Years Fund executive director Kris Perry. "Millions of American households rely on this credit each year, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers worked hard to extend it to more low-income families who would benefit most from receiving it." 

The Senate is expected to vote on their tax bill Saturday, just hours after the text of the bill was revealed. The House and Senate will then attempt to work out their differences in conference before sending a final bill to President Donald Trump's desk, if it passes Congress. 

November 30, 2017

Rubio isn't bound to increasing corporate taxes to raise the child tax credit

Marco Rubio 3

@alextdaugherty

Sen. Marco Rubio said Thursday that he's open to alternative ways to pay for an increased child tax credit, after his amendment with Sen. Mike Lee to raise corporate taxes to pay for the expanded credit was opposed by President Donald Trump and a slew of conservative interest groups. 

"I'm trying to pass it, and I'm open to how we pay for it," Rubio said. "Cutting corporate taxes by 13 instead of 15 (percent) is one way to do it, but if there's a better way we're open to it. But ultimately, we're trying to allow working families, welders, plumbers, firefighters, members of the armed forces, to keep a little bit more of the money that they earn by working." 

Other senators like Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins have also voiced support for an expanded child tax credit that is fully refundable for low-income families, though there are other ways to pay for it like reducing other tax deductions and raising the proposed corporate tax cut by one percent instead of two percent. 

Conservatives like Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said that the current 20 percent corporate tax rate in the House and Senate tax plans is non-negotiable. 

"We continue to strongly support the unified framework and the 20 percent corporate tax rate that the White House has said they would oppose raising," a letter by Koch-backed Freedom Partners to Senators on Thursday said. "The proposed Rubio-Lee amendment would deviate from that framework by increasing the corporate tax rate beyond 20 percent, undermining the full economic benefits that families would otherwise see. We believe this is the wrong approach." 

The Senate is expected to vote on a slew of amendments, including Rubio and Lee's, late into the evening on Thursday before they vote on a tax overhaul. The Senate and House, which passed its tax bill before Thanksgiving, would then conference together to hammer out a final proposal that would go to Trump's desk if it passes Congress. 

November 29, 2017

Marco Rubio bucks Donald Trump, proposes higher corporate tax rate (updated)

Marco Rubio

@alextdaugherty

 

Sens. Marco Rubio and Mike Lee are adamant that any tax overhaul bill must benefit working families and corporations alike, and they're willing to support a smaller cut to corporate taxes in order to pay for an increased child tax credit.

President Donald Trump doesn’t like the idea.

Rubio, R-Fla., and Lee, R-Utah, announced Wednesday that they want to increase the federal corporate income tax rate to 22 percent from the 20 percent proposed in the Senate’s tax overhaul bill. The corporate tax increase would pay for a child tax credit that reduces some families’ tax bill for every child they have under the age of 17.

“We have a chance to do better by working families in this tax bill,” Rubio and Lee said in a statement. “Right now, 70 percent of the tax cuts we’re considering would go to businesses, and only 30 percent to individuals. This amendment would level the playing field for families, while still kick-starting national investment and growth. By increasing access to the Child Tax Credit, we can increase working family fairness and deliver overdue relief to America’s greatest investor class: our moms and dads.”

Rubio and Lee have repeatedly said that Republicans will pay at the ballot box if it is perceived that their tax plan doesn't do enough to help working families. The pair did get the child tax credit increased to $2,000, which is higher than the current ceiling of $1,000, but they are arguing that more must be done.

Rubio and Lee’s plan would also make the $2,000 tax credit fully refundable, meaning that if a low-income family’s tax credit exceeds their total amount owed in taxes, they would be eligible for a tax refund. The tax credit would also be tied to the rate of inflation, which means the tax credit will increase if inflation increases. 

“I’m not going to vote for an increase on the middle class,” Rubio said in October. “But we’re not going to get to that point. We’re not that crazy around here.”

President Donald Trump called the proposed 20 percent corporate tax rate a “perfect number” earlier this year, though at one point he wanted an even bigger cut to 15 percent. A White House official confirmed to the Miami Herald that Trump opposes Rubio’s plan.

“We do support the child tax credit. We also think it’s important to make businesses more competitive. We would not support raising the corporate rate as outlined in that amendment,” said White House spokesman Raj Shah.

Read more here.
 

November 28, 2017

Bill Nelson to Republicans on tax plan: try again

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via @learyreports

Sen. Bill Nelson and Democrats are hopeful that Republican divisions over the tax package will result in failed vote later this week and insist they are ready to work on a do-over.

“If this attempt can be defeated, then the flowers of bipartisanship will start to spring up,” Nelson said during a news conference Tuesday in which more than a dozen Democrats denounced the current legislation.

“Why not test us?” said Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, suggesting a revamped bill could get plenty of Democratic support.

Nelson, in an interview, blasted the corporate tax cuts in the bill. “Why give a huge, multinational corporate tax cut, which in essence swells the defict $1.4 trillion and the same time gives little relief, if any, to the middle class?”

Some tax cuts aimed at the middle class expire after a number of years – “widow dressing,” in Nelson’s terms. He also cited a CBO report showing that over a decade, people making $75,000 or less would see a tax increaes.

Nelson said another unfairness is small businesses would pay a higher rate than the 20 percent for corporations.

“Nothing about it is fair,” Nelson said.

Asked about the child tax credit increase fellow Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is pushing, Nelson replied, “That’s just nibbling around the edges.” The current proposal calls for doubling the current credit to $2,000 but is not fully refundandable, which Rubio himself objects to.

Nelson did manage to get something in the bill, with an assist from Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who co-sponsored the amendment Citrus growers would get a deduction for new trees replacing those savaged by greening disease.

But it’s a blip — $30 million over a decade — in the overall package.

 

November 26, 2017

A Miami Republican makes enemies in Washington

Curbelo (1)

@alextdaugherty 

Carlos Curbelo is picking fights.

He attacked the NRA for opposing his bill to ban a firearm accessory that allows semi-automatic rifles to fire like automatics. He attacked the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, currently made up of all Democrats, for denying his membership application.

And he is attacking the Trump administration and fellow Republicans who oppose efforts to combat climate change.

These spats give the second-term Republican congressman from Miami ground to attacks both sides of the political spectrum for unyielding partisanship, and they allow Curbelo to deliver a message to his constituents and voters that the right and the left are both responsible for Washington’s dysfunction.

That talking point rings hollow for some Democrats, who say Curbelo is a political opportunist who will do or say anything to survive in a South Florida district that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by 16 percentage points. And certainly, Curbelo represents the most Democratic-leaning congressional district in the country currently held by a Republican who is up for reelection in 2018.

He has spent the last four years trying to position himself as a political moderate.

“Most Americans are sick of the games, the hypocrisy, and honestly if that’s what’s required to be successful here, I’d rather go home,” Curbelo said. “It’s the only way worth doing this work. You can either go along to get along and just be polite all the time and ignore the underlying reality or you can kind of call things the way you see them and expose what’s really going on around here.”

Curbelo’s done plenty of exposing.

Over the past few weeks, he publicly called out multiple Hispanic Caucus members who stalled or opposed his membership application after previously working with them on various issues.

When California Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas told a reporter that Curbelo was “playing both sides” and “stabbing the Latino community in the back” by asking to join the Hispanic Caucus, Curbelo responded by calling him a hypocrite.

“This guy and I worked together last year,” Curbelo said. “He approached me on the floor about starting a caucus called the Connecting the Americas Caucus. We worked really well together, had a great relationship. Now, suddenly because I want to join the other caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, I’m a horrible person.”

Read more here.

November 21, 2017

Democratic group launches new tax ads against Carlos Curbelo

Congress Taxes

via @alex_roarty @alextdaugherty 

A well-funded Democratic outside group is running a new series of digital ads targeting vulnerable House and Senate Republicans over the GOP tax bill, part of an ongoing effort to criticize the lawmakers while the legislation is still being debated in Congress.

The online attacks from the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA are part of multi-million-dollar campaign that began last month with a nationwide cable TV buy, and one of the targets is Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

The group is focusing on digital ads to run on websites, on social media platforms, and streaming music services. In total, Priorities plans to spend $2 million between the TV and online buys. The House passed an overhaul of the nation's tax system last week on a mostly party line vote.

“The more voters learn about this bill the less they like it, which is why Priorities is launching an all-out effort to reach voters, educate them on the bills consequences and encourage them to contact their representatives and stop this attack on the middle class,” said Patrick McHugh, executive director of Priorities USA, in a statement.

Curbelo, a member of the House tax writing committee, has publicly embraced the GOP tax overhaul and appeared with House Speaker Paul Ryan at multiple events to promote the bill in Spanish. 

The ads will also target some Republican senators reportedly on the fence about the legislation, which has not come up for a vote yet. Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, and most GOP senators up for re-election next year, including Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, are part of the ad buy.

The ads will also run against 20 House Republican incumbents who voted for the legislation earlier this month and are considered top targets of House Democrats next fall, including Reps. Mike Coffman of Colorado, Brian Mast of Florida, and Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania.

Read more here.

Congress could eliminate the tax break that helped Miami Beach’s Art Deco renaissance

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via @joeflech @alextdaugherty

Behind the signature Miami pastels, perfectly symmetrical facades and terrazzo floors that give South Beach’s rich stock of Art Deco buildings its distinctive flavor, one section of the U.S. tax code fueled the rehabilitation of these once-crumbling structures.

As part of a sweeping tax overhaul, Republicans in Congress could eliminate the historic tax credit — a move that is upsetting local preservationists and developers who say the credit is an essential factor in the financial formula that keeps these decades-old buildings standing.

The tax plan passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday eliminates a 20 percent historic preservation tax credit. The tax plan under debate by the Senate currently keeps the tax credit, though it could be changed.

Locals who fight to save historic buildings and developers who take these buildings on as restoration projects agree that reducing the incentive would hamper future rehabilitation of Miami and Miami Beach’s historic architecture.

“In the development community, we take advantage of this,” said Sandor Scher, principal of Claro Development. “This is a real incentive.”

Claro is planning to rehab and reuse several late-era Deco and Miami Modern buildings in the redevelopment of Ocean Terrace, a block along the city’s north shore. Scher plans to apply for historic tax credits to help finance the project, which is currently under review by the city planners.

The credit enables developers to save on taxes and spend more on costly rehabilitation projects that preserve the facades of historic buildings while renovating the rest of the structure to make it economically viable.

Hotelier Alan Lieberman helped shape South Beach’s character through several historic restoration projects that met the stringent requirements set forth by the National Park Service, which runs the tax credit program and approves projects based on how faithful a restoration is to the building’s original look.

Lieberman’s company, South Beach Group Hotels, has preserved archetypal Art Deco hotels in the city’s tourist center, including the Collins Plaza Hotel, the Chesterfield and the Catalina Hotel and Beach Club. He said historic hotels are good for business because guests appreciate the uniqueness of the architecture.

So do people who live in the Beach, a rare intersection between tourism and resident interests.

“We take the buildings for granted,” Lieberman said. “It’s really nice, it’s interesting and it’s comfortable. People love historic buildings.”

At least one member of the local Congressional delegation agrees and hopes the final bill will leave the tax credit untouched when it comes to a vote.

“I will vote for this monstrosity with the hope that many of these things will get taken care of once the bill comes back and we have a conference and people come to their senses,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, of the House bill. But she did not rule out voting against the final bill if enough changes aren’t made.

“Preservation is so important in my congressional district, not only in the Gables but in Miami Beach. Oh my gosh, those beautiful Art Deco hotels and homes,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “We want to preserve them. I’m not in favor of doing away with those deductions. Why take it out on the little guys like that?”

Read more here.

November 16, 2017

Miami Republicans vote in favor of Trump-supported tax overhaul

Congress Taxes

@alextdaugherty 

All three Miami Republicans in the House of Representatives voted Thursday in favor of a $1.5 trillion plan to overhaul the nation’s tax code, though one of them called the legislation a “monstrosity” and left the door open to voting against the final proposal if negotiations with the Senate don’t yield enough changes.

Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen all voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which passed by a vote of 227-205. Every Democrat from South Florida voted against the plan with the exception of Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens, who did not vote. Thirteen Republicans, mostly from northeastern states, voted against the plan.

Curbelo, a member of the House tax-writing committee responsible for drafting the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, has been a vocal supporter of the legislation for months and delivered introductory remarks in English and Spanish at a press conference with Republican leadership lauding the bill’s passage.

“What a country and what a day,” Curbelo said. “Today we are one step closer for tax relief for every American family.”

Passing a bill would give President Donald Trump and the GOP their first big legislative triumph in 2017 after an effort to repeal Obamacare stalled earlier this year.

Diaz-Balart also praised the bill in a statement after the final vote.

“Filing your taxes shouldn't be an arduous and burdensome task; this legislation creates a simpler, fairer tax code for individuals, protecting their hard-earned dollars,” Diaz-Balart said. “American families deserve a tax code that allows them to keep more of what they make; for Floridians, that means keeping $1,945 more of their wages. It also creates more than 50,000 new jobs in the Sunshine State, encouraging business owners and revitalizing the job market.”

Ros-Lehtinen had a much different response to the sweeping tax legislation, saying she only voted in favor on Thursday so the House and Senate can hash out differences before drafting a final bill. Ros-Lehtinen said she could vote against the final bill if enough changes aren’t made.

“I will vote for this monstrosity with the hope that many of these things will get taken care of once the bill comes back and we have conference and people come to their senses,” Ros-Lehtinen said before the vote.


Read more here.