Ivanka Trump and Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins joined forces Friday in the southern Maine town of Biddeford to tout the need for a federal tax overhaul that could affect every single American and business owner.
The push came a day after Senate Republicans unveiled their version of a tax plan that is already facing withering criticism for benefiting the wealthy and increasing the federal deficit.
The tax proposal, which must be reconciled with a sharply divergent House Republican plan, is widely considered Congressional Republicans’ last chance to pass major legislation before next year’s midterm election.
Collins, frequently a swing vote in the Senate, is expected to play a key role in the fate of the tax overhaul. She said few Americans believe the current tax system is easy, sensible or fair.
Collins also said changes to the tax system were necessary to keep businesses in the U.S. “Given a level playing field, our workers and businesses will prevail every time,” she said.
Ivanka Trump, an adviser to President Donald Trump, said the tax overhaul is critical to maintaining economic growth. She said the tax bill is consistent with the president’s goal “of supporting American families.”
The event at Volk Packaging in Biddeford was billed as a forum, but it often functioned as a unity event for Republicans.
The GOP controls the federal government, but differences within the party have derailed legislative priorities, including repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Collins played a decisive role in defeating two GOP health care bills this year. But her joint appearance with Ivanka Trump suggests she’s closer to the White House on tax changes than she was during the Trump administration’s bid to scuttle the Affordable Care Act.
The crowd of about 200 people tilted toward Republican lawmakers, GOP officials and conservative activists. Business owners also attended.
Collins focused her remarks on the latter. She said tax changes were needed to encourage small businesses to continue hiring.
The GOP tax plan eliminates a number of deductions which Ivanka Trump described as the product of special interest lobbyists. “The American family doesn’t have a lobbyist in D.C.,” she said.
The Senate bill preserves some heavily used tax breaks, including deductions for mortgage interest and medical expenses.
It would maintain seven tax brackets, as well as the 10 percent rate on lower earners.
The proposal has been criticized by progressive groups for wiping out state and local tax deductions and by conservative groups because it delays a reduction in the corporate tax rate until 2019.
In a statement, Maine Democratic Party chairman Phil Bartlett said the GOP tax overhaul effort benefits the wealthy over other Americans.
“Maine people deserve real tax relief, not the scraps of what’s left over after massive tax breaks are given to the wealthy and big corporations,” he said. “And they shouldn’t be forced to have to choose between working or having a family.”
This report appears as part of a media partnership with Maine Public.