- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2017

One red-state Democrat said the GOP didn’t do enough to reach out to him on the tax-cut bill, while others said they just couldn’t see enough common ground to win over their votes.

Now those Democrats, many of whom face re-election battles next year in states President Trump won by double-digit margins, are hoping voters don’t punish them.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he’s repeatedly tried to find areas to reach across the aisle and vote with Republicans for Mr. Trump’s agenda, but said he couldn’t do it this time.

“There’s some good in this bill. I acknowledge that,” Mr. Manchin said on West Virginia talk radio, after host Hoppy Kercheval pointed to the tax cuts he said the state’s middle class residents stood to gain.

But Mr. Manchin said the bills seemed too skewed toward business, pointing to the permanent nature of corporate tax cuts, compared to the planned expiration of the reductions in the individual rate.

Congress cleared the tax bill this week without any support from Democrats, who stuck with party leaders in opposition. But several of those Democrats said they could have been partners on taxes, if only the GOP had taken a different path.

Republican leaders insisted they welcomed Democrats‘ help, but said once the minority party’s leaders decided to oppose the package there was little hope.

After the vote, President Trump said Democrats will have to explain their stance.

“Unfortunately, the Democrats don’t like to see tax cutting,” he said. “They like to see tax increases. And they like to complain. But they don’t get it done, unfortunately. But they complain a lot.”

While Mr. Trump is considered political poison in some blue states, red state Democrats took pains to say they tried to work with him.

At a town-hall meeting in Missouri last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill framed her vote against the bill as disappointment that the plan favored corporations. She argued the bill betrayed the principles Mr. Trump had originally proposed.

“This isn’t Trump’s bill,” she said at the event in suburban St. Louis. “Trump campaigned on the bill being about you.”

But one resident told the St. Louis Public Radio before the event that he didn’t understand her opposition to the bill and hoped she’d explain it more.

“I’m having a hard time finding a way that it does not benefit the people of Missouri,” said Dennis Hugo, a 32-year-old, self-described Libertarian.

In Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, another Democrat, told his voters he met with Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence over the tax bill.

“From the beginning of this year’s tax reform effort, I’ve been willing to partner with Republicans, Democrats, and President Trump and his administration,” he wrote in an op-ed in the Indianapolis Star.

“Despite this common ground, the bill produced by Sen. Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan was the complete opposite of what the president and I had discussed,” Mr. Donnelly added.

In North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who said last month she was open to voting for the bill, said that the $1.5 trillion in additional deficits piled up by the tax cuts swayed her to vote against it. But some voters in her state don’t see that as a reasonable opposition.

Doubling the death tax, which Democrats argued would only help large corporations and not really help farmers as Republicans said, is one piece of the bill people in agricultural North Dakota were paying close attention to.

“The estate tax, or the death tax, the exemption was doubled to $11 million, which you know should we really be taxing an event like death anyways?” said Daryl Lies, president of the North Dakota Farm Bureau, to KFYR-TV, an affiliate station in his state.

He said the addition to the debt is not a concern for him since crop insurance “enhanced” during that time.

Mr. Lies also said that an increased deduction for the full purchase of equipment will also be a tangible benefit for local farmers.

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