Heitkamp taking Republicans 'at their word' tax talks will be bipartisan
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., stopped in Grand Forks on Friday afternoon to talk tax reform--expected to shoot to the top of Congress' agenda as soon as health care debate and storm relief discussions have passed.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., stopped in Grand Forks on Friday afternoon to talk tax reform-expected to shoot to the top of Congress' agenda as soon as health care debate and storm relief discussions have passed.
The senator, who announced her re-election bid last week, visited Development Homes, 3880 S. Columbia Road, to meet with community members representing a variety of nonprofits, unions and other interests. During a nearly two-hour discussion, the group delved into the details of tax policy, eyeing an "opportunity" Heitkamp sees to influence a significant rewrite.
"A lot of people don't believe this, but at least from what I've heard so far ... I think this administration truly does not want to give tax breaks to millionaires," she said. "I honestly believe that. I think they know you won't get individual income tax reform done, if that's the outcome."
The gathered group included representatives of AARP, AFL-CIO, Grand Forks Education Association and the Grand Forks Housing Authority, among others. Heitkamp led the discussion at first, outlining a number of interests in the coming reform process.
"If you have money, like the 1 percent of the country, you put that in the bank and it makes a lot of money and you're taxed at a lower rate," Heitkamp said, contrasting it with wages earned at agricultural jobs.
Guests at the meeting, and the ensuing discussion, helped sketch how interconnected and complicated the coming process will be. Tom Young, president of the Grand Forks Education Association, responded to concerns about high local taxes by pointing to its importance for the salaries of public-sector employees like his group's members. Shawn McHale, a senior at UND, spoke about the burdens taxes can impose, despite juggling multiple jobs while in school.
The tax reform discussion could move more quickly after this week. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., announced Friday he would vote against the latest Republican-led push to repeal and replace Obamacare, making it appear more likely that the effort would fail. If that happens-and the GOP moves to its next agenda item-tax reform is likely to steal the legislative spotlight.
However, Republicans still don't appear to have a concrete plan to advance for debate, leaving the reform process without a clear timeline.
Whenever tax reform discussions begin, Heitkamp said she's taking Republicans "at their word" that talks will be bipartisan, mentioning President Trump's and his cabinet's apparent interest in reaching across the aisle.
"Remember this: The president invited me to come to Mandan to talk about taxes," Heitkamp told the Herald after Friday's meeting, mentioning outreach to other Democratic senators to talk tax reform. "I spent a lot of time on that plane talking about taxes. There is an attempt to realign. And I think one of the things the administration's discovered is that when you work in a bipartisan way, as we did with the budget agreement, there's rewards."