Mike Pence watches sparks fly at tax event
Vice President Mike Pence, on a fundraising swing for vulnerable House Republicans in California, stopped at a manufacturing company Monday in Rancho Cordova to relay the virtues of the administration’s plan to change the federal tax system.
Joined by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, Pence toured Stroppini Enterprises, where he touted what he said President Donald Trump likes to call a “middle-class miracle.” The vice president said the simplified plan would allow most people to fill out their taxes on “one sheet of paper.”
Pence’s visit comes amid considerable consternation over how the GOP tax plan – which would dramatically simplify the tax code, slashing corporate and income tax rates – would affect Californians.
While the proposal remains in the “framework” stages, state and local tax deductions would be eliminated in the initial draft supported by the Trump administration.
The deduction allows Californians to subtract various state tax payments, including state income tax and local property tax, from their income before calculating how much they owe the federal government. A Sacramento Bee review of the federal data found that more than 6 million people here claimed the deduction, worth $112.5 billion, in 2015.
The approach has a larger impact on states with higher state and local taxes, including Democrat-rich California and New York.
Democrats and liberal activists have sought to pressure California’s GOP House members to push for early changes to the proposal. In an interview at the Capitol earlier on Monday, billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer slammed the Republican tax plan.
“That is an absolute attack on California, including no deduction of state and local,” he told The Bee. “Any California representative of any party who votes for that should lose his or her job that day.”
Democrats view voices like Steyer’s as crucial to the tax reform debate because he stands to profit substantially from the tax cuts proposed by President Donald Trump’s plan.
Like fellow billionaire Warren Buffett, Steyer wants to raise taxes on the wealthy. He thinks the money should be used to invest in infrastructure, clean energy, public education and health care.
Pence’s event was just outside Sacramento, where he later attended a dinner fundraiser at the downtown Hyatt Regency.
He made a handful of stops in Southern California late Sunday and earlier Monday to raise money for targeted House Republicans whose districts were won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. The seven seats are seen as key battlegrounds Democrats must win to regain control of the House and hand the speaker’s gavel back to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The endangered Republicans include Reps. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, Darrell Issa of Vista and Jeff Denham of Turlock.
Pence’s trip here came after he left a game between the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts in his native Indiana, citing disagreements with players who knelt during the National Anthem.
While the vice president said he couldn’t “dignify” the demonstration, he faced swift criticism over the cost to taxpayers for his travel and security to attend the game, which CNN estimated at $242,500.
Had Pence flown to Los Angeles from Las Vegas, where he was before going to the game, the cost would have been about $45,000.
Pence’s office said he was planning to attend the game for weeks because the team was honoring Peyton Manning, a former Colts quarterback who Republicans had hoped would run for U.S. Senate.