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GOP Congressman: ‘There’s Nothing Wrong with Lowering Taxes for Rich People’

President Trump talks with Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) during the Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn of the White House on June 22, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON – Addressing the Republican tax reform proposal, Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said tax reform should “help everybody” and there is “nothing wrong with lowering taxes for rich people.”

Republican leaders are reportedly considering keeping the highest tax rate at 39.6 percent. Their current tax reform proposal includes a top rate of 35 percent. President Trump has said in the past that he wants to try gaining support from Democrats for his tax reform plan. PJM asked King if the White House has alienated Democrats already by cutting the top tax rate.

“Some yes, some no. If it’s overall – first of all, there’s nothing wrong with lowering taxes for rich people. I mean, President Kennedy said a rising tide lifts all boats – that was a Democratic president who said that,” King said during a recent interview with PJM on Capitol Hill. “I am not into class warfare but the idea is if you can help everybody, I have no problem with that. The idea is if you are helping some and hurting others, then that’s no good.”

King said he is in “basic agreement” with the current Republican tax reform package but he wants to see the state and local tax deduction (SALT) maintained. The SALT deduction allows “taxpayers who itemize deductions on their federal income tax are permitted to deduct certain taxes paid to state and local governments from their gross income for federal income tax liability purposes,” according to the Tax Foundation.

“I am in basic agreement with one big caveat, and that’s on the property tax and state income tax deduction,” he said.

When asked if he thinks the White House and Republican leaders will change their proposal and keep the upper 39.6 percent tax rate, King said, “I think from the start, even the president, that was something that’s a possibility. So everything is on the table, but to me it’s important to preserve the state and local tax deductions.”

House Democrats have criticized the GOP tax reform plan, arguing that it would disproportionately help the rich. Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) disagreed with the Democrats’ position on the Republican proposal.

“I think if anything it’s really designed for the middle class, this tax bill, and that’s what the president wanted. He didn’t want to see this benefit the top 1 percent or the wealthy but to push it down to the middle class, so I would disagree with them on that point,” McCaul said.

“The only thing – I would like to see a cut in the capital gains tax rate because I think that would really help prime the economy. It’s something President Kennedy did and it worked. He was a staunch advocate of lowering the capital gains tax rate and that would impact homeowners and everybody,” he added.

McCaul said keeping the 39.6 percent top tax rate in place is still up in the air.

“Obviously, the details on that are still being discussed,” he said. “I don’t have a position right now on that – the other thing that’s being fine-tuned is do we create another bracket at that higher level.”