With a desire to cut taxes by the end of the year, Vice President Mike Pence came back home again to Indiana Friday for his first of three expected trips in the next month — but this time he targeted Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly.
“Sen. Donnelly, we need your help too,” Pence said at the Wylam Center for Flagship East in Anderson as Donnelly sat in the audience. “Joe, let’s decide today if we are going to get this tax cut done and we are going to get it done together.”
While Donnelly is a Democrat, he has shown before that he is willing to cross party lines. In 2010, Donnelly supported tax cuts he said weren’t perfect, but he knew were needed to provide incentives for economic growth.
However, Donnelly said he wasn’t present at the event for political reasons, but to support the vice president.
“Mike Pence is my friend, he’s the vice president and I wanted to be here to show him respect and to spend time together and to see what he has to say,” Donnelly said prior to Pence’s speech. “We are going to have to make a big decision on tax reform.”
Although there is no current tax reform legislation written at this time, Pence talked about the Trump administration’s goals.
“We are going to cut taxes across the board for working families and small businesses,” Pence said. “Before the end of the year, President Trump is going to sign a tax cut that will put American workers and the American economy first.”
Pence promised to cut handouts and carve out the loopholes that benefit the wealthy. He said the plan is to make the tax code flatter and fair for all Americans despite their social class.
U.S. Rep. Luke Messer and U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita — who are both vying for Donnelly’s seat when he comes up for reelection in 2018 — support the tax cut proposed by Pence.
“Hoosiers deserve a tax cut,” Messer said in a statement. “President Trump’s tax cut plan will help grow the economy, create jobs and increase wages for hardworking Hoosiers.”
“It’s great to have Vice President Pence back home in Indiana rallying support for bold tax reform to make America more competitive, bring jobs back from overseas and put more money in the pockets of hardworking Hoosiers,” Rokita said in a statement.
But despite Pence’s call on Donnelly, Rokita doesn’t trust that Donnelly will vote with the Republicans.
“The fact of the matter is Joe Donnelly votes with liberal elites nine out of 10 times,” Rokita said following the event. “The fear is that Joe Donnelly is going to do what Joe Donnelly does which is pat Hoosiers on the back then go back to Washington and do something different — he doesn’t represent Hoosiers on the whole.”
At a White House event in July, Trump said his tax policy goals include lowering the top corporate tax to 15 percent from 35 percent and cutting the top individual income tax rate by 4.6 percent — leaving it at 35 percent.
Under Pence’s governorship, the state’s biggest income tax cut was made. The rate was 8.23 percent and he cut it to 3.23 percent, even though he desired a 10 percent cut — and Democrats are still talking about it.
“Hoosiers are hoping that the administration’s plan will be far better than the former governor’s own record on taxes where he put shortsighted political interests before working families,” said John Zody, Indiana Democratic chairman in a statement.
Zody said Pence’s tax cut for Hoosiers amounted to about $50 per average household.
President Donald Trump and Donnelly had a conversation about tax reform and Donnelly told the Republican president he will have more Democratic support if he doesn’t target the cut toward the wealthy.
“If this is focused on middle class families, the moms and dads who every day are trying to do a little bit better and it’s focused on keeping jobs here, you’ll get a lot of interest from the Democrats,” he said.
President Donald Trump will be in the Hoosier state Wednesday to also talk about the economy and an overhaul on tax reform.