WASHINGTON — Minnesota Republicans in Congress got enthusiastically behind the tax code overhaul that President Trump rolled out Wednesday, while several influential business groups in the state were at least initially supportive. Democrats in Minnesota’s congressional delegation were less enthusiastic.
“I do think we have a very stark choice right now as Minnesotans and Americans,” Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican, said in an interview. “We can really, truly grow the economy and put ourselves back on a path to prosperity.”
Paulsen is on the House Ways and Means Committee, the first legislative stop for the measure, and has been involved in shaping the proposal. He spent much of August trying to sell businesses and constituents on reworking the tax code.
Among major provisions of the plan, Paulsen singled out for praise plans to double the standard tax deduction, consolidate tax brackets, cut corporate and small business tax rates, and offer tax relief for the overseas profits of American corporations.
Minnesota’s two other Republican lawmakers in the House are also on board.
“I want a tax code that promotes economic growth — not one that merely divvies up a shrinking economic pie,” said Rep. Jason Lewis in a statement. Rep. Tom Emmer called the framework released Wednesday “an incredible first step towards our goal of modernizing and simplifying our archaic and overly burdensome tax code.”
It’s not yet clear how one major aspect of the proposal could play out in Minnesota — the proposal to eliminate state and local tax deductions. That has the potential to hit hardest in states with relatively high levels of taxation — like Minnesota.
Trump has expressed interest in working across the aisle on tax changes. But several Minnesota Democrats were skeptical out of the gate.
“The Republican tax framework is a multi-trillion dollar giveaway to billionaires and big corporations at the expense of working Minnesotans and Americans,” Rep Betty McCollum said. Sen. Al Franken said he feared that provisions aimed at the middle class “will be used as a smoke-screen for a return to trickle-down tax policies that greatly benefit only a few at the top and provide very little long-term benefits for the vast majority of Americans.”
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is hopeful that a tax overhaul at the federal level could inspire tax changes in the Minnesota Legislature, too.
“We agree with the goals that were outlined, which is reducing those rates so we’re more competitive with foreign nations,” said Beth Strinden Kadoun, the chamber’s vice president of tax and fiscal policy.
The Minnesota Retailers Association also praised the plan, saying that retailers have a strong interest in lowering tax rates for consumers and the stores they shop at. Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly wrote on a corporate blog that the proposal could allow companies to reinvest in jobs and grow the economy.