Rep. Bruce Poliquin says he'll vote yes on GOP tax overhaul

By DAVID SHARP Markets Associated Press

Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin said Tuesday he's going to vote for a tax overhaul that avoids a late suggestion by President Donald Trump to lower the top rate on high-wage earners.

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The GOP proposal would help Maine residents by doubling the standard deduction and increasing tax credits for children, he said, while keeping taxes low for small businesses and making large businesses more competitive by bringing the corporate rate into line with other industrialized countries.

"We want to eliminate as many of these loopholes and special-interest carve-outs that only the wealthy and well-connected are able to take advantage of," he added.

Poliquin brushed aside a late proposal by Trump, a fellow Republican, to lower the top rate for high-income earners to 35 percent. Poliquin favors keeping the top rate at 39.6 percent.

The House and Senate bills, promoted as tax relief for the middle class, would reduce corporate taxes from 35 percent to 20 percent, double the standard deduction to $24,000 for couples filing jointly and limit or repeal the federal deduction for state and local property, income and sales taxes.

The House is expected to vote Thursday after a personal pitch this week from Trump, who's just returned from a visit to Asia. The vote in the Senate, where the Finance Committee was holding a hearing Tuesday, will follow in coming weeks.

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The position of Poliquin, who represents Maine's 2nd Congressional District, was in stark contrast with Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree in the 1st District.

Pingree, who on Monday held a roundtable with people who would be harmed by the GOP tax overhaul, said the plan would help the wealthy and drive up the deficit.

"Basically, it's going to be a giveaway to corporations and some of the wealthiest people in the country," Pingree said at the event.

In an interview, Poliquin dismissed criticism that the GOP was moving too fast on the overhaul in hopes of delivering a much-needed victory for the president, who has been unable to fulfill his promise of repealing and replacing President Barack Obama's health care law.

Poliquin said Republicans have been working on a tax overhaul for years and he's been involved in the discussions for the past two years.

The markup in the House Ways and Means Committee happened in public over the course of several days last week and was carried live on C-SPAN, Poliquin said.

"It's been very methodical, very transparent and very thoughtful," he said.