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Collins Says Needs Changes Before She Can Support GOP Tax Plan

Mark Niquette, Ben Brody
Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, arrives to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on social media influence in the 2016 U.S. elections in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Facebook, Google and Twitter -- technology powerhouses actively cultivating their influence in Washington -- received an unaccustomed grilling and even ridicule in their first appearance yesterday before Congress over Russian meddling in last years presidential campaign.

Senator Susan Collins said the Republican tax plan now working its way through the Senate “needs work” before she can support it.

“I want to see changes in that bill, and I think there will be changes,” the Maine Republican said on ABC’s “This Week,” one of two appearances she made on Sunday.

Collins said “it’s a problem for me” if the provision to remove the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act is repealed as part of the effort to overhaul U.S. tax law. On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Collins stated flatly that “I don’t think that provision should be in the bill. I hope the Senate will follow the lead of the House and strike it.”

“The fact is that if you do pull this piece of the Affordable Care Act out, for some middle-income families, the increased premium is going to cancel out the tax cut that they would get,” Collins said on CNN.

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Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said Sunday that the White House would be OK removing the mandate if it was an “impediment” to passage of the Senate bill, although White House legislative director Marc Short said “we like the fact that the Senate has included it.”

Collins laid out several other critiques of the bill that passed the Senate Finance Committee on Friday:

  • The top individual income-tax rate, targeted for reduction in the Senate plan, should be kept at the current 39.6 percent for people making more than $1 million a year
  • Business tax rates shouldn’t be lowered to 20 percent from the current 35 percent. She suggested 22 percent to allow other deductions to be kept
  • The state and local tax deduction, targeted for elimination in the Senate bill, should be continued.

“We need to restore the tax deduction for state and local taxes, the way that the House did,” Collins said. “That will help our middle-income taxpayers get more tax relief.”

On corporate taxes, Collins said that a lower rate would provide an incentive for more hiring and higher wages, “but it does not need to be reduced all the way to 20 percent for large businesses.”

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