Manchin: Tax reform not a cut for wealthy

PARKERSBURG — A tax reform proposal from the president won’t be a cut for the wealthy, said a West Virginia senator who had dinner with the chief executive on Tuesday night.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was among the seven senators — three Democrats and four Republicans — to have dinner with President Trump and Vice President Pence at the White House where they talked about the nation’s infrastructure needs and tax reform. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, director of the White House Economic Council, also were there, Manchin said.

“We had all the players driving the train,” Manchin said.

On tax reform, Manchin said the president assured there will not be a tax cut for the wealthy, but it will benefit the middle class, Manchin said.

“He was very clear, up front on that,” Manchin said.

While “the devil’s in the details,” the discussion included a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent, so high it deters companies from locating in the United States, Manchin said. Talk has been to drop the rate to 15 percent, but Manchin said he supports cutting it to 25 percent.

A cut in the corporate tax rates and income taxes for the middle class will reduce tax revenue, but revenue will increase from the “dynamic growth” and renewed confidence in investing here, Manchin said.

He likened it to when West Virginia privatized workers compensation and planners underestimated revenue projections.

“I do know how the economics work,” Manchin said.

The Democratic senators at the dinner were Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Manchin said they got the invitation probably because they didn’t sign onto a letter listing the party’s terms for tax reform legislation.

The three are also running for re-election in states won by Trump in the 2016 election.

Manchin said, from his perceptions, the president in private isn’t the same as his public persona. Trump appears to be more comfortable working with all sides to reach a solution rather than a partisan approach working only with the Republicans, said Manchin.

The senator said his perceptions were based on speaking and listening to the president at the dinner.

“I think he feels comfortable working in a bipartisan way,” Manchin said.

The president last week reached an agreement with House and Senate Democratic Party leaders to raise the debt ceiling for three months while also providing disaster recovery from Hurricane Harvey. The deal angered Republicans.

The president also did not appear as he comes across on television, Manchin said. Trump seemed more open minded, he said.

“That’s my gut,” Manchin said.