U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin: Tax Proposal Won’t Be Cut For Wealthy

PARKERSBURG — A tax reform proposal from President Donald Trump won’t be a cut for the wealthy, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said after having dinner with the chief executive on Tuesday night.

Manchin, D-W.Va., was among at least six senators — three Democrats and three Republicans — to have dinner with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House, where they talked about the nation’s infrastructure needs and tax reform. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, director of the White House Economic Council also were there, Manchin said.

“We had all the players driving the train,” Manchin said.

On tax reform, Manchin said the president assured him any proposal will not represent a tax cut for the wealthy, but will benefit the middle class.

“He was very clear, up front on that,” Manchin said.

While Manchin said “the devil’s in the details,” he said the discussion included a possible reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent.

The rate is so high it deters companies from locating in the United States, Manchin said.

Some have proposed dropping the rate to 15 percent, but Manchin said he supports a more modest cut, to 25 percent.

A cut in the corporate tax rates and income taxes for the middle class will reduce tax revenue, but revenue will increase from the “dynamic growth” and renewed confidence in investing here, Manchin said. He likened it to when West Virginia privatized workers’ compensation and planners underestimated revenue projections.

“I do know how the economics work,” Manchin said.

The Democratic senators at the dinner were Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Manchin said they probably got the invitation probably because they were the only three Democratic senators not to sign a letter listing the party’s terms for tax reform legislation.

The three are also running for re-election in states won by Trump in the 2016 election.

Republican senators at the dinner were Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Orrin Hatch of Utah and John Thune of South Dakota.

Manchin said, from his perceptions, the president in private isn’t the same as his public persona. Trump appears to be more comfortable working with all sides to reach a solution rather than taking a partisan approach working only with Republicans, he said.

Manchin said his perceptions were based on speaking and listening to the president at the dinner.

“I think he feels comfortable working in a bipartisan way,” Manchin said.

The president last week reached an agreement with Democratic leaders in the House and Senate to increase the debt ceiling for three months while also providing disaster recovery from Hurricane Harvey. The deal angered Republicans.

The president also did not appear as he comes across on television, Manchin said, noting Trump seemed more open-minded.

“That’s my gut” reaction, Manchin said.

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