Ivanka vs. Phil Murphy — Radically different views of tax plan in NJ
BAYVILLE — Both sides of the tax reform issue were heard from in New Jersey in separate events Monday.
President Donald Trump's daughter and special advisor Ivanka Trump was joined by Rep. Tom MacArthur, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Gov. Chris Christie at the Bayville firehouse to talk in favor of a Republican plan, while versions are making their way through the House and Senate.
The message of the Bayville meeting was that tax reform should make things simpler and that the GOP plan will help all Americans.
The proposals in Congress pose problems for New Jersey, where property taxes are among the nation's highest. The average property tax bill in New Jersey was about $8,500 last year, according to the state.
The House bill allows homeowners to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes while a Senate proposal unveiled by GOP leaders last week eliminates the entire deduction. Republicans are calling for cutting corporate rates and reducing the number of brackets on income tax from seven to four.
The House and Senate versions would eliminate deductions for state and local income taxes and sales taxes paid.
Trump said the tax plans would make healthcare and child care more affordable. She predicted they would create an economic boom with the potential for 3 to 5 percent economic growth as businesses thrive.
"The simplicity is so important. When you think about 94 percent of Americans require assistance to fill out their taxes. That's absurd. That really is absurd, and that doesn't benefit the ordinary Americans," Trump said.
MacArthur praised the plan as simplifying the tax code and making property taxes more affordable. He said the House bill won his support after the $10,000 property tax deduction cap was included. He had previously opposed the measure, when like the Senate version it eliminated the property tax deduction entirely, he said.
Mnuchin said the plan would create the lowest tax rate since the 1930s for small businesses.
Ocean County, where Bayville is located, was one of the few counties won by Republican Kim Guadagno in last week's gubernatorial election — 62-35 precent.
Roughly 30 protesters were outside the firehouse on Route 9 in the rain, holding signs that read "stop the tax scam," "#notonepenny" and "Tmac stop giving by $$ away to big biz."
One man before the event started asked how many of the 100 or so people in the crowd were Democrats. Another woman complained that she was not heard.
Jason Ireland of Brick was blocked from entering before the event and shouted into the room, "Why are they taking questions only from Republicans?"
MacArthur said the event was designed to give Trump and Mnuchin a platform to speak about the tax reform plan.
"What we wanted was to give them a chance to speak and let people hear them speak," he said. "As you know, town halls can get out of control. That's not what I was after today."
Trump and Mnuchin are also speaking at events in New York in Washington this week.
Governor-elect Phil Murphy and Democratic members of the New Jersey congressional delegation including Frank Pallone, Bill Pascrell, Donald Payne, Albio Sires and Donald Norcross gathered in Newark to express their displeasure with the bill.
Murphy called the plan a "devastating bill for New Jersey" and an assault on the middle class and seniors.
"They're desparate to get something something and they're making stuff up. This is not a tax cut; this is a tax scam," Murphy said. He "begged" the state's congressional Republicans to not vote for the plan.
The governor-elect said the compromise in the bill — the $10,000 cap — was comparable to cutting off half of one's hand as opposed to the entire hand.
Pallone said any New Jersey Republican who votes for the plan should be "ashamed" and called the plan a scam that would increase taxes and harm the state.
In a tweet on Monday, President Donald Trump commended GOP leaders for getting the tax overhaul legislation closer to passage in recent weeks, saying "Cut top rate to 35% w/all of the rest going to middle income cuts?"
That puts him at odds with the House legislation that leaves the top rate at 39.6 percent and the Senate bill as written, with the top rate at 38.5 percent.
Trump also said, "Now how about ending the unfair & highly unpopular individual mandate in (Obama)care and reducing taxes even further?"
The legislation would steeply cut corporate taxes, double the standard deduction used by most Americans, and limit or repeal completely the federal deduction for state and local property, income and sales taxes. It carries high political stakes for the president and Republican leaders in Congress, who view passage of tax cuts as critical to the GOP's success at the polls next year.
Pallone said the plan could come up for a vote as early as this week.
Vin Ebenau and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.