Northeast Florida lawmakers divided on impact of tax reform plan

Jacksonville, FL — The House will have to vote a second time to fully clear the massive GOP tax reform plan, but your Republican Representatives are nonetheless excited to be a part of what they’re calling a historic moment.

With a largely party line vote, though, it’s no surprise that local Democrats don’t feel the same way.

Following the House clearing the bill Tuesday afternoon, Jacksonville Republican Representative John Rutherford told WOKV that “hardworking Americans” come out on top in this plan.

“It’s a good thing for taxpayers, it’s a good thing for business, it’s gunna be great for our economy,” Rutherford says.

That was echoed by the other Republicans representing Northeast Florida as well.

“House Republicans have fulfilled a promise to simplify our tax code, lighten the tax burden on all Americans (especially middle-income families), and small businesses,” says a statement from Representative Ted Yoho.

“The reforms included in the bill- the dramatically lower tax rate, the full expensing of capital investments, and the move to a territorial tax system (paving the way for profits earned overseas to be brought back to the U.S.)- will better enable American companies to compete with foreign businesses and will help to stem the tide of companies and jobs going overseas,” says a statement from Representative Ron DeSantis.

IN DEPTH: Our Washington Insider Jamie Dupree details what the tax reform plan means for you

Jacksonville Democratic Representative Al Lawson says it’s disappointing his party wasn’t brought in to the fold more. He believes pressure from the President to get this done before the end of the year didn’t leave enough time to really hammer out the differences.

“It was a glorious day for the Republicans, but it’s a sad day for Americans.” Lawson says.

The Senate votes on the plan late Tuesday, and our Washington Insider Jamie Dupree expects the measure will pass. It’s again expected to be along party lines though, with Vice President Mike Pence on hand in case there’s a tie.

“It ought to be enough that $1.5 trillion are borrowed in order to finance a huge tax cut for multinational corporations with incentives to send American jobs overseas. That ought to be enough. And it ought to be enough that compared to that, they’re just crumbs for the hardworking muddle-class, hardworking families. But there’s more. In this tax bill, indeed CBO has said 13 million people will lose health insurance as a result of something that was done to the Affordable Care Act,” Florida Democratic Senator Nelson said on the Senate floor.

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio has previously called himself an “enthusiastic yes” vote, because of “the strong pro-growth, pro-American jobs provisions already contained in the legislation” as well as changes that were made to increase the Child Tax Credit.

After the Senate signs on, the House will have to vote again on the package Wednesday, because the Senate made some minor rules-related changes.

Lawson hopes that, with more time, the public will see what he believes are drawbacks in the bill.

“Raises taxes on 86 million middle class households, and includes nearly one million Floridians,” he tells WOKV.

Yoho says the bill is not perfect, but concerns from various members of Congress have been addressed along the way, and he’s happy with the work that was put in to this final package. Rutherford says they won’t celebrate for long though, with a lot of work still ahead on strengthening the military, improving infrastructure, and other areas. He says in order to tackle some of the biggest problems, like the national debt, the country needs the growth that he believes this tax reform package will provide.

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