November 13, 2017

Bill Nelson calls out Republicans by name for refusing to work with him on taxes

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Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson loves to talk about his bipartisan work in Washington and close relationship with Republican colleagues like Florida counterpart Marco Rubio

But Democrats weren't part of drafting the Senate's plan to rewrite the nation's tax code, and Nelson is personally appealing to his Republican colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee to find common ground. The bill is set for a committee markup on Monday afternoon, though Republicans can push the bill through with a simple majority. 

"We are completely rewriting our tax code," Nelson said, according to remarks prepared for delivery. "Yet, we haven’t had any hearings on the bill. Or any time to seriously debate the slew of policy changes that will affect people’s everyday lives." 

Then Nelson calls out several Republicans on the Finance Committee by name, referencing work he's done with them in the past. 

"Mr. Chairman (Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch), how many times have we come together to find common ground and get something good done for the American people? Just last year, we passed the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act out of committee with a bipartisan vote of 26 to 0. It started with you and the Ranking Member hashing out differences to find a workable middle. Why can’t we do that again?"

"Senator (Chuck) Grassley, we worked together on the ACE Kids Act, which would create a national network of children’s hospitals and other providers to better serve kids needing specialized care."

"Senator (John) Cornyn, we’ve worked together to increase accountability at the VA, to honor helicopter air ambulance crews that served in Vietnam, and to help citrus growers struggling to deal with a plant disease known as citrus greening."

"Senator (John) Thune, you and I have partnered on so many issues in the Commerce Committee it’s hard to keep count. If anyone wants a good example of how we should be conducting ourselves, just look to how Senator Thune and I work together in the Commerce Committee."

"You all get the picture. I could go all the way down the line citing examples of times when each of us crossed the partisan divide to do the people’s work. It doesn’t happen as much as I’d like. But it is possible," Nelson said. 

Nelson also offered nine amendments to the tax bill, including lower tax rates for people making less than $170,000 a year, reinstating personal exemptions and providing funding for citrus trees struck by disease in Florida. His amendments are likely to fail in the GOP-controlled committee. 

"All I’m asking is to give bipartisanship a chance," Nelson said.

The House is expected to vote on its tax overhaul, dubbed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this week. If the Senate passes its version, the two chambers will deliberate in conference to come up with a final bill. 

November 09, 2017

Bill Nelson: 'This is not the way to make complicated tax law'

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Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is a member of the Senate Finance Committee tasked with drafting the chamber's tax overhaul after the House of Representatives released their version last week. 

He isn't happy with how things are going. 

When asked if there are any areas of potential compromise for Democrats and Republicans on a tax bill, Nelson chuckled.

"How can I answer that when I don't know that they're going to do?" Nelson said, adding that Finance Committee chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, "doesn't seem to be cooperating at all." 

"They're cutting out the members of the Finance Committee who happen to be Democrats," Nelson said. "They're accelerating saying that they're going to file it (the tax bill) today or tomorrow and that we're going to markup on Monday. That's no hearings, nothing. This is not the way to make complicated tax law." 

Nelson, who often touts the benefits of bipartisanship, is one of 12 Democrats on the Finance Committee. 

A leaked memo of the Senate tax plan released Thursday sets the child tax credit at $1,650, $50 higher than $1,600 House proposal but lower than the $2,000 proposal championed by Sen. Marco Rubio. Rubio has said that he will not vote for a tax plan if the current $1,000 child tax credit tax credit doesn't at least double. 

Nelson, Florida's only Democrat holding statewide office, is up for reelection in 2018 and is likely to face a challenge from Gov. Rick Scott.

Curbelo gets his Ivanka Trump meeting

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Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo had a Capitol Hill sitdown with Ivanka Trump on Thursday, as the president's daughter has become a fixture in Congress while the House and Senate debate a proposal to overhaul the nation's tax code. 

Curbelo, who did not support Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election, is a member of the House tax writing committee responsible for drafting the details of a tax proposal. 

"Great to have Ivanka Trump in the Capitol today to discuss the pro-family Tax Reform being considered by the Ways and Means GOP Committee," Curbelo tweeted.

Trump met with Sen. Marco Rubio on multiple occasions to discuss an expansion of the child tax credit to at least $2,000 in recent months, though Rubio isn't happy that the initial House proposal only expands the current $1,000 credit to $1,600.

The House tax plan, dubbed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, can pass with a simple majority of Republicans in the House and Senate. 

November 08, 2017

Republicans look to ax tax credit that benefits Miami Beach hotels

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Ronald Reagan put the historic tax credit into the U.S. tax code. Donald Trump’s company tried to use it.

Now Republicans are fighting to get rid of it.

Once crumbling reminders of the past, nearly a dozen glitzy Art Deco hotels along Miami Beach have benefited from the credit, which could be wiped out in the Republican tax bill. Well-known landmarks throughout America have also taken advantage of the break, from San Francisco’s famed Ferry Building to Asheville, North Carolina’s Grove Arcade and a horse barn at the Biltmore Estate.

It’s a tax credit that’s been used for 40 years to help spark the rebirth of old, historically significant buildings as well as often neglected communities. At one point The Trump Organization applied for the federal historic preservation tax credit for its Washington hotel.

Now, history buffs, developers and preservationists nationwide are banding together in hopes of fending off the push to end the tax credit.

And they’re invoking the Republicans’ most enduring modern historic figure, Reagan, who signed legislation making the provision a permanent part of the tax code in 1986.

“We have a limited supply of historic buildings and we want to make it viable economically to preserve them,” said Melissa Wyllie, executive director of the non-profit Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. “From a development standpoint this tax credit can make the difference between preserving a building or starting from scratch, and potentially demolishing one.”

Republicans say they are trying to trim such tax breaks as part of their effort to deliver across the board tax relief.

“With the lowest tax rates in modern history for American businesses of all sizes, this legislation will allow our local job creators to keep more of their earnings to invest as they see fit — including in local revitalization projects,” said Shane McDonald, House Ways and Means Committee spokesman.

Read more here.

October 18, 2017

Koch-backed group urges Bill Nelson to support Trump's tax reform effort

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For months, president Donald Trump and various conservative groups have courted moderate Democrats to join in their plan to overhaul the nation's tax system, which hasn't been significantly changed since 1986. 

This week, the Senate will likely vote on a 2018 budget proposal, and Americans for Prosperity, a Koch Brothers-backed group that is pushing for tax reform, is urging Sen. Bill Nelson to vote in favor in a new digital ad released on Wednesday.

"Nelson has hinted at being willing to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to reform the tax code to make it more fair and efficient," AFP Florida director Chris Hudson said in a statement. "This is a once in a generation opportunity that deserves his full endorsement immediately."

Passing the budget plan would enable the GOP to proceed on their tax overhaul without a 60 vote threshold in the Senate, a necessity when Republicans only control 52 seats. Some moderate Democrats like North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin have indicated a willingness to work with Republicans on taxes. 

Nelson, one of 10 sitting Democratic senators up for reelection in 2018 in states won by Trump in 2016, voted against a procedural motion to start debate on the 2018 budget on Tuesday. The motion passed on a 50-47 party line vote. 

 

Watch the ad here.

August 25, 2017

Ron DeSantis ties himself to Donald Trump as he weighs gubernatorial run

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@alextdaugherty 

Rep. Ron DeSantis sounds like a man who's ready to run for governor. 

"I think that there's definitely a opening for somebody that's got a proven record for advancing limited government," DeSantis said in Miami on Thursday after advocating for an overhaul of the nation's tax system with Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group funded by the Koch brothers.  "I think there needs to be someone with military experience in the race. There's definitely the opening." 

The Republican congressman from northeast Florida repeatedly echoed Donald Trump during his remarks, chastising Republican senators who voted against repealing Obamacare, referring to Washington as "the swamp" and praising Trump's decision not to support a tax on imported goods championed by House Speaker Paul Ryan as a way to fund an overhaul of the tax system.

"I think that the president's priorities have been strong priorities," DeSantis said. "We've got a lot of senators, congressman sniping that the president tweeted this or that. Here's what I would say, in the Congress whatever we pass, he's 99.9 percent likely to sign it. We complained about having Obama as president...all you have to do in the congress is legislate, put bills on the president's desk. This is a president that wants to sign legislation, he's inviting us to put things on his desk. I think the spotlight is on Congress, and particularly those members who haven't been as forward-leaning on honoring their campaign promises that they made to their constituents. Now is the time to follow through." 

DeSantis also expressed a strong desire for term limits in Congress, arguing that longtime leaders don't have an incentive to shake up the status quo and are too reliant on lobbyists when drafting bills. 

"K Street lobbyists saw the Senate health care bill before Republican senators did," DeSantis said.

DeSantis, who will make a decision about the governor's race sometime in the fall, isn't a stranger to statewide campaigns. He ran for U.S. Senate in 2016 but dropped out when Sen. Marco Rubio reversed course and decided to run for reelection. Even though DeSantis ran a statewide campaign, he acknowledged that building name recognition in large markets like Miami will be a tough and expensive challenge. 

"I think a lot of the folks that are going to be in that race are going to have similarities, they'll be much better known in Tallahassee than me, but that's fine," DeSantis said.

But there is one area where DeSantis differs from Trump; he wants to use the media to talk about the issues and get himself more well-known among voters. 

"In a Republican primary the only way to do the state is to get on cable news and talk radio," DeSantis said. "In the last cycle I wanted to do more media but all anyone cared about was the presidential race. Now we're kind of in a governing period where people are concerned about all the issues going on nationally. I think there's a lot of our primary voters that know me much better today than they did two years ago, but obviously you've got a long way to go. You've got to get free media, you've got to get paid media and you've got to have an army on the ground to spread the message. It's more difficult in this state than any other, but it can be done."

Former congressman and sitting agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam and State Sen. Jack Latvala have announced bids for the GOP nomination to replace Rick Scott in 2018. House Speaker Richard Corcoran is also weighing a run in the Republican primary. 

August 09, 2017

Center-right group launches TV ads on taxes in Carlos Curbelo's district

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American Action Network, a center-right group with ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan, will spend $2.5 million in the next few weeks to promote an overhaul of the nation's tax system, the next big legislative fight for Republicans in Congress. 

The TV ad buy includes Rep. Carlos Curbelo's Key West-to-Miami district and the ad argues that the current tax system causes American workers to lose their jobs. 

"We are committed to standing up for Americans who have been left behind by our broken tax code, and sharing real stories to raise awareness on how jobs have fled to countries like China," said American Action Network executive director Corry Bliss. "It’s time for Congress to act and defend hard-working Americans and their families across the country.”

Curbelo is one of 24 mostly moderate House Republicans who are part of the August ad buy. The list also includes Florida Rep. Brian Mast, who won Patrick Murphy's seat after he ran for Senate. Curbelo and Mast's districts are being targeted by Democrats as potential 2018 pickups.

Three Democrats, including Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, are challenging Curbelo while former Senate candidate Pam Keith has filed to run against Mast.  

American Action Network has gotten involved in Curbelo's district before. In 2014, when Curbelo successfully challenged Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia, American Action Network spent $1.2 million against Garcia. 

The organization is expected to spend up to $20 million on an efforts to change the tax code in the coming months, including a $1 million radio campaign launched two weeks ago that also included Curbelo's district.

Republicans in Congress and Donald Trump are pushing for a lower corporate and personal tax rate along with eliminating many deductions, but an overhaul of the nation's tax system hasn't occurred since Ronald Reagan's administration.

 


 

August 08, 2017

Potential gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis to talk taxes in Miami

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@alextdaugherty 

 

Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Verda Beach, a potential candidate for governor in 2018, is swinging into South Florida to talk about the next big item facing Congress: a comprehensive tax overhaul.

DeSantis will speak at an "Un-Rig the Economy" town hall event at the Miami Airport Sheraton on August 24th in conjunction with Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group funded by the Koch brothers.

Conservatives like DeSantis and Americans for Prosperity are aiming to drastically reduce the country's corporate tax rate, change personal tax rates and revamp tax deductions for the first time since Ronald Reagan's administration. 

"We hope the rest of the Florida delegation will join Congressman DeSantis in fighting back against the current rigged tax system by joining our effort to pass pro-growth tax reform," said AFP Florida director Chris Hudson in a statement. "Americans want a system that’s based on simplicity, efficiency, equitability, predictability, and creates no new burden on taxpayers. We want to speak directly to Floridians who want to help fix our broken tax code."  

Americans for Prosperity and Republicans in Congress are pushing for a tax plan by the end of the year, but it will be harder to pass a tax overhaul that doesn't require 60 Senate votes after the effort to repeal Obamacare stalled two weeks ago. A tax plan can only pass with a simple majority if the legislation doesn't increase the federal deficit after 10 years, and repealing Obamacare would have shaved billions off the deficit. Republicans only have 52 seats in the Senate, so a bill that requires 60 votes will need Democratic support.  

DeSantis, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, briefly ran for U.S. Senate in 2016 before ending his bid after Marco Rubio ultimately sought reelection. Last week, DeSantis asked the Department of Justice to investigate a former information technology worker fired by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston. 

DeSantis also has tax speeches with AFP set for September 19th in Fort Lauderdale at the Marriott Fort Lauderdale North and September 28th in Orlando. All three events run from 6:30 to 8pm. AFP plans to hold 50 tax overhaul events around the country in August and September.

June 20, 2017

Marco Rubio hosts Ivanka Trump at the Capitol to talk family tax credits

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@alextdaugherty 

Sen. Marco Rubio hosted Ivanka Trump at the Capitol on Tuesday to talk about one of their shared priorities: a childhood tax credit. 

"There is a growing desire within the Republican conference, within the Senate and House, to address the fundamental factor that there are people in America who have decided they can't afford to have children because they can't take a month off of work and not be paid," Rubio said after the meeting. 

Trump has long championed a mandatory six-week paid leave for parents and a child tax credit for couples making less than $500,000 a year that would allow them to deduct child care expenses from their income taxes. Lower-income families who wouldn't benefit from a tax deduction could receive a rebate of up to $1,200 a year for child care expenses.

Her proposals, particularly the mandatory paid leave plan, are likely to face blowback from some conservative Republicans. Rubio stopped short of offering support for a mandatory paid leave plan on Tuesday. 

"We're in the early stages of trying to figure out the right approach," Rubio said.

Rubio and Trump didn't get into specifics about how they would expand the tax credit or offer paid leave during the meeting, Rubio said. 

"Today was in receive mode, listening to some of the different concepts and ideas that are already out there and figuring out how some of these can work together," Rubio said. "It was really more of an introductory, first step meeting but it was a good one." 

Also in the meeting were Republican Sens. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Joni Ernst of Iowa,  Mike Lee of Utah, Steve Daines of Montana and Tim Scott of South Carolina.

Rubio, Lee and Fischer have each sponsored legislation that would provide tax credits to businesses that provide paid leave to parents. 

"In order to do public policy right, it takes a little bit of time and a lot of input to make sure you have answers to every question," Rubio said. "We're all operating on 30 minute news cycles but tax policy of this sort and broader policies of this sort takes a little bit of time, but it's worth the work." 

Rubio also said that it would be his preference to include a child tax credit as part of a larger tax overhaul, but that he's prepared to move forward on a standalone bill if it can't be included. 

"That would be ideal, if there's going to be a broad tax reform, for the pro-family component to be a part of it," Rubio said. "But if it doesn't happen we're prepared to move independently of a broader reform." 

Rubio said that younger Senators in their 30s, 40s and 50s with young children are particularly sensitive to the challenges that come with raising children. 

"People used to tell me, 'How can you have four kids, it's really expensive?'" Rubio said. "And I would say all you've got to do is put more water in the soup, but now you're finding out that is not necessarily always the case." 

Photo via AP's Erica Werner on Twitter. 

January 12, 2016

Video(s): What to watch for in Florida's 2016 legislative session

From tax cuts and health care to gambling and guns, here are six key issues and themes to watch for as the 2016 Florida legislative session gets underway today.

Continue reading "Video(s): What to watch for in Florida's 2016 legislative session" »