HELENA – Montana’s two U.S. senators split on a key tax-cut vote Thursday night – although both said they favor some form of overhauling the nation’s federal tax system.
On a party-line vote with Republicans in favor, the Senate voted 51-49 for a budget resolution that enable a tax-reform to pass the Senate with a simple majority – and, allows the bill to lower tax revenues by $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
Republican Sen. Steve Daines voted for the measure, and told Fox News this week that a tax cut for businesses and individuals would bring capital back to the United States and grow the economy.
“I think it’s the single most important piece of legislation that we can pass this Congress,” he said. “You look back at this economy, and the American economy has lost 5 million jobs overseas. This brings jobs back to America.”
Democratic Sen. Jon Tester voted no, saying that the proposal threatens to blow a bigger hole in the federal deficit and that the resolution cuts Medicare spending by $500 billion.
Still, Tester told MTN News Friday that he wants to vote for a tax-cut bill – but it has to be the right one.
“The tax-reform bill, hopefully we can get that done before the first of the year, but, like I said, it’s got a long time to go before it hits prime-time,” he said. “But I hope it does get done. I think we need tax reform. But it’s got to be tax reform that’s well thought-out and really delivers for the American people.”
Republican leaders have yet to produce an actual bill, with details on income-tax rate reductions and changes in deductibles.
Tester said he doubted they could deliver the bill within a promised two-week time span.
Daines said he’s optimistic that majority Republicans can get it done, and said senators need to “set aside minor differences” and pass the bill.
He also said he supports the idea of eliminating the income-tax deduction for state and local taxes, and opposes creating a higher tax rate for the upper stratum of income of the very wealthy.
When asked if he’s concerned about the tax cut increasing the federal deficit, Daines said no.
He said he’s been talking to “thoughtful, credible economists” who believe that the tax cut will increase the nation’s gross-domestic product growth rate to the point that tax revenue will actually increase over time, rather than decline.
“Credible economists everywhere are saying the same thing: Cut rates, increase tax revenues, we’ll actually see a reduction in deficits,” Daines said.