- Associated Press - Friday, December 1, 2017

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announced Friday that she secured enough changes to the GOP tax overhaul proposal to earn her support.

Stimulating the nation’s economy through tax reform can boost federal revenue and take-home pay for Americans, the senator said.

“I don’t think there is a single American who thinks that our current tax code is fair, simple or promotes economic growth,” she said. “We need a tax system that will boost the economy, help the middle class and encourage small businesses to grow and create jobs.”

Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett said Collins “let down the people of Maine.”

“Hardworking Maine families deserved far more than they got from this bill, and we’re disappointed that Senator Collins didn’t agree,” he said.

Collins broke with Maine’s other senator, independent Angus King, who mocked the proposal. “To call this a circus would be an insult to circuses,” King said on CNN on Thursday.

She made her announcement several hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., proclaimed that Republicans who narrowly control the chamber had enough votes to pass the bill.

The measure focuses the bulk of its tax reductions on businesses and higher-earning individuals, gives more modest breaks to others and would be the boldest rewrite of the nation’s tax system since 1986.

Collins had held out for changes to the proposal, including restoring a state and local property deduction that will help 166,000 taxpayers who deduct a total of $725 million in property taxes on their federal income tax returns.

Her amendment would let homeowners deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes. She would make up the estimated $146 billion in lost revenue by keeping unchanged the personal income tax rate for the wealthiest earners and making a smaller cut in the corporate tax rate.

Other amendments would lower the threshold for claiming the deduction for unreimbursed health care expenses and reverse a provision that would have reduced the ability of church, charity, school, and public employees to save for retirement, she said.

She also said she’s secured pledges to mitigate harm from the repeal of the individual health insurance mandate and to remove the threat of a 4 percent cut to Medicare.

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