BLOOMINGTON — U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood hopes the Senate will back off one of its bigger proposed changes to the House tax reform bill approved last week.
"I don't think health care should be part of this," said LaHood, a Dunlap Republican who spoke at Monday's monthly McLean County Republican Party Meeting at DoubleTree by Hilton in Bloomington. "These are separate issues that should be dealt with separately."
The Senate's tax reform bill includes repealing the individual mandate, a provision of the Affordable Care Act requiring all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty, but that could change before the bill is passed.
If the Senate passes tax reform, the House and Senate will need to hash out their differences and approve a final compromise proposal, which Republican leadership hopes to accomplish before the end of the year.
This spring, the House passed a bill that would have overhauled the Affordable Care Act, also called "Obamacare," including repealing the individual mandate, but the Senate failed to pass a matching proposal.
President Donald Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said Monday the White House supports ACA repeal but doesn't want to scuttle the tax bill over it. Tax reform would be the first major legislative achievement of Trump's term.
“As Republicans, it has been a little frustrating we have the House, the Senate and the presidency, and we haven’t gotten more done,” LaHood said. “I have a lot more optimism when it comes to tax reform.”
Both congressional tax reform plans cut rates broadly, including for corporations and the middle class, LaHood said, in an attempt to spur economic growth.
The House version includes a provision allowing taxpayers to deduct up to $10,000 in local property taxes from their federal tax bill that LaHood has championed but the Senate bill would end deductions for all state and local taxes. That provision is especially important for states like Illinois that have higher property taxes than their neighbors.
LaHood also is pushing for the Senate to follow the House's lead and include ending the estate tax. LaHood said the tax, which charges heirs when they receive large estates, hurts family farms across his 18th District, which ranges from McLean County to the Quad Cities.
Despite Democratic gains in elections this month, including in Virginia and New Jersey, LaHood said Republicans could have a successful 2018 election if they pass tax reform.
LaHood faces challenges from two Democrats, Morton teacher Brian Deters and Eureka College professor Junius Rodriguez, who lost to LaHood in a landslide last fall.
He acknowledged that Trump presents problems for Republicans in Congress.
“I like the president’s actions. I don’t always like his words. I think he could be a little bit better. I wish he wouldn’t tweet as much,” LaHood said. “I heard him described the other day… as one-third Teddy Roosevelt, one-third Andrew Jackson and one-third Barnum and Bailey. I thought that was a pretty good description.”