Sen. Portman said tax reform bill is working for people


By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said the tax-reform bill is already paying dividends for people.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December, is a success.

“Over 3 million on the low end of the income bracket won’t have a tax liability at all. That’s an indication of who’s benefiting,” said Portman, a Republican from the Cincinnati area who was at the downtown Youngstown YMCA on Wednesday to tour the facility and speak at the Youngstown Rotary Club meeting.

The bill lowers tax rates, doubles the standard deduction to $24,000 per family, and doubles the child-care tax credit to $2,000 per child.

“Doubling the standard deduction is huge for people in the Mahoning Valley who are making $24,000 a year; it’s all tax-free,” he said.

“If you’re making 50 grand a year, $24,000 tax- free is helpful. Doubling the standard deduction, doubling the child-care tax credit and lowering the tax rate helps working families all over Ohio.”

When asked about those who criticize the tax-reform bill as disproportionately helping the wealthy, Portman said, “The facts speak for themselves. Our tax code was already progressive in the sense that wealthier people were paying a higher percentage of it. Now it’s even more progressive. In other words, if you’re making a lot of money, you’re paying an even higher percentage [of taxes].”

Portman was asked by The Vindicator about General Motors’ announcement last month that it was eliminating the second shift at its Lordstown complex, which is expected to eliminate 1,500 jobs there. GM’s popular Chevrolet Cruze is made at the plant.

“I’m discouraged because that’s a terrific plant,” he said.

“The folks at Lordstown did all the right things including taking some concessions” and “they’ve proven themselves.”

Portman said he spoke with GM CEO Mary Barra about the decision.

“Her point is what they’ve said publicly, which is the Cruze market is smaller, it’s shrinking. The customer out there is looking for a different kind of vehicle, it could be SUVs,” Portman said.

“Of course my response was ‘Let’s bring some SUVs to Lordstown’ and she said they’re going to look at that. It would require some retooling, but we’re going to push hard that any employees who are going to be laid off – and it looks like they’re going to lay off an entire shift – are going to get transitional help. But second is we try to bring some more work back there. If it requires another vehicle, you know, maybe that’s the best way to go.”

The last day for the two-shift operation at Lordstown is June 15. The loss of the second shift is the result of slowing demand for the Cruze, which, in March, saw its 11th-consecutive month of declining sales as consumers have shifted to buying crossovers, SUVs and trucks.

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