Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen is cautiously backing a sweeping House Republican plan to overhaul the nation’s tax laws.
Rolled out Wednesday, the proposal would end a number of popular tax breaks to help pay for lower overall tax rates.
Paulsen is Minnesota’s lone member of Congress on the Ways and Means Committee, the Republican-led House of Representatives’ tax-writing panel.
“No plan is perfect. But, it’s time to end the status quo and fix a broken tax code … that is too costly, too complex, and takes too much time to comply with,” Paulsen said in a statement. “We need a tax code that promotes savings, investment, achievement, innovation, and hard work. This draft proposal provides real solutions to create a healthy economy.”
Ways and Means Committee chair Dave Camp’s plan would drop the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent and would reduce the number of income tax brackets from seven to two.
The plan would eliminate or reduce popular tax breaks for medical expenses, moving expenses, child care and energy-efficient homes, along with slashing the mortgage interest deduction for homes worth a half-million dollars or more.
In exchange, the plan would increase the child tax credit would and consolidate a number of tax breaks for education expenses.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison panned the plan, arguing that it does little to address the nation’s income inequality.
Ellison said tax reform should “stop government spending that only benefits the wealthy and increase spending that supports working families, the poor and seniors.”
The proposal “hurts working people and their families, and expands loopholes that big companies already use to avoid paying taxes. It puts a greater burden on individual taxpayers and helps profitable corporations pay even less back to the country that made their profits possible,” Ellison said in a statement.
The issue is likely to stall in Congress in this midterm election year.
Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen is urging President Obama to visit a medical technology company during his trip to the Twin Cities on Wednesday.
Paulsen wrote to the president over the weekend, asking for help to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s tax on medical devices.
Money raised from the 2.3 percent excise tax is intended to fund expanded health care coverage for upwards of 30 million Americans under President Obama's health care law.
But Paulsen has called the tax, which began in January 2013, a "tax on innovation."
Minnesota is home to hundreds of medical device companies that employ more than 30,000 people.
Last week, the medical device industry’s major trade group, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, released a survey that says the tax cost the industry tens of thousands of job in 2013.
“This industry is an American success story, but it is being hit especially hard by the Medical Device Tax that passed as part of the Affordable Care Act,” a portion of Paulsen’s letter to the president reads. “With your support, we can repeal this onerous tax and protect jobs, expand high-tech manufacturing here at home, and create and provide more life-saving and life-changing technology to American patients.”
In 2012, the Obama administration threatened to veto Paulsen’s legislation, but congressional support for a repeal is growing.
Paulsen’s bill has more than enough support to pass the Republican-led House, but Senate Democrats have thus far been unwilling to deal a blow to one of the president's signature legislative accomplishments.
Minnesota U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, both Democrats, have urged their colleagues to repeal the tax. The state’s entire House delegation also opposes the tax.
Here’s a copy of Paulsen’s letter:
Newly available campaign finance reports highlight the fundraising disparity in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race.
According to documents on the Federal Election Commission's website on Monday, Republican candidate Julianne Ortman raised $234,000 so far for her bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken and Republican candidate Jim Abeler raised $87,000.
Franken has raised more than $12.4 million for his re-election campaign and had nearly $5 million cash on hand. Republican candidate Mike McFadden raised $2.2 million and had $1.7 million left in the bank at the start of the year. Republican candidate Chris Dahlberg raised far less.
Franken, McFadden and Dahlberg released the summary information from their reports by January 31, back when reports were due to be filed federally.
At that time, neither Ortman or Abeler released details of their fundraising reports. Because Senate candidates do not file their reports electronically, it takes a while for them to be uploaded to the FEC website. Ortman said last week that she had "nearly a quarter of a million dollars in 2013."
House candidates file their reports electronically so their fundraising information is available online when the reports are filed.
See all the fundraising information released by Minnesota's federal candidates for office below.
(scroll to see the numbers)
Friday is Federal Election Commission deadline day when federal candidates and groups must file their fundraising figures for 2013.
Follow along as we update our chart below with the cash hauls reported the the campaign finance agency.
Note: You may need to scroll a bit to see all the numbers.
Seats at President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night will be filled with the legislative priorities of the 113th Congress.
On a night when the president lays out his blueprint for the year, members of Congress often choose their guests to convey a message of their own: the person often symbolizes a policy or issue the lawmaker is promoting.
In Minnesota, those issues range from job training and fighting poverty to ending child sex trafficking and repealing President Obama’s health care law.
Here’s a member-by-member look at the guests of the state’s congressional delegation:
U.S. Sen. Al Franken will host Erick Ajax, vice president and co-owner of E.J. Ajax and Sons, a Minneapolis-based metal-stamping company. Franken has introduced legislation that would create a multi-billion dollar grant program to fund partnerships between businesses and two-year colleges to fill job openings in high-demand fields.
Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy will be U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s guest. A supporter of Mayo's partnerships to help match students' skills with jobs, Klobuchar has introduced legislation that would fund 100 new science, technology, engineering and math-themed high schools and support scientific research.
Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz will be U.S. Rep. Tim Walz's guest. Walz and Kuntz released a joint statement this month calling for passage of transportation funding bills in both houses of Congress in 2014.
U.S. Rep. John Kline will host Keith Anderson, vice chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The tribe is the largest employer in Scott County, which is part of Kline's district in the southern suburbs and exurbs of the Twin Cities.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s guest for President Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday will be Vednita Carter, founder and executive director of Breaking Free, a St. Paul-based organization that helps women escape prostitution. Paulsen, the author of two bills designed to combat child sex trafficking, wrote a letter to Obama this month, requesting that he address the issue during the speech.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum’s guest will be Clarence Hightower, executive director of the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties, an anti-poverty agency. This year, McCollum plans to push for more federal grant money to be distributed to not-for-profit agencies, such as the Community Action Partnership, to tackle poverty.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges will attend President Obama’s State of the Union speech as the guest of U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. The two are working on plans to close the achievement gap in the city’s schools and radically reduce the amount of garbage the city sends to landfills, with the eventual goal of reaching "zero waste."
Dr. Julie Anderson, a family physician from St. Cloud, will be U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s guest. A University of Minnesota Medical School graduate, Anderson has concerns about how the Affordable Care Act will affect her practice. Bachmann has been one of Congress’ most vocal critics of the health care reform law.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, who will not bring a guest, gave his pass to U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, according to staff.
As a result, Nolan will have two guests – Carri Jones, chairwoman of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and Melanie Benjamin, executive director of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Nolan's northeastern Minnesota districts includes five of the six Minnesota Chippewa Tribe bands.
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