Maine Sen. Susan Collins is facing increasing pressure to oppose a federal tax reform bill that is wending its way through Congress.

The Democratic National Committee will be targeting Collins, a Republican, in an automated phone call to Mainers this week asking them to urge her to vote against the reform package, which they say is little more than a giveaway to the wealthiest Americans. The DNC also will launch a series of digital ads targeting Collins.

The robocall is scheduled to start Tuesday and continue through the week, as is a new television ad being launched in Maine by Save My Care, a national political action group that focuses on protecting the Affordable Care Act.

In July, Collins joined Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to defeat ACA repeal legislation by one vote in a dramatic late-night session. She also was instrumental in resisting a failed September effort to repeal the ACA.

Collins, who is home in Maine for the Thanksgiving holiday, said during an appearance Monday at Colby College in Waterville that she was still undecided on the tax reform bill.

“It’s too early to say how I’ll vote on it,” she said, adding that she was drafting her own amendments to the bill, and that she expects other senators will submit hundreds of amendments.

Collins said last week that she visited the White House to meet with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to discuss concerns with the tax bill. Going forward with amendments, she said she hopes the Senate has the support of the administration.

Tax reform is a key goal for the president and the Republican-controlled Congress, which has been unable to accomplish any of Trump’s legislative goals, including repealing and replacing the ACA.

Collins also appeared on several Sunday television talk shows, detailing her concerns with the tax reform package and outlining specific changes she wants in the bill if Republicans want her vote – including no federal income tax cuts for those earning more than $1 million a year, and keeping federal tax deductions for state and local property taxes.

She repeated those concerns Monday, noting that many in Maine pay property taxes on both a seasonal camp and their regular homes, and that the House version of the tax reform bill would be bad for many Mainers.

Collins said the Senate bill also has provisions that are concerning. She said she has written amendments to address some of her concerns and would likely attempt to offer those in the Senate.

POTENTIAL SEVERE CUTS TO MEDICARE

During her appearances Sunday, Collins said cutting corporate taxes from a top marginal rate of 35 percent to 20 percent is not appropriate for all businesses, although she expressed support for cutting income taxes for small businesses. Previously, she has said that she is opposed to allowing tax cuts for individuals to expire or sunset, as the bill proposes, while making the tax cuts permanent for corporations.

The current version of the Senate bill also would lead to severe funding cuts for Medicare if the revenue lost from the tax reductions isn’t made up elsewhere in 2018. That would mean a loss of about $120 million a year in Medicare funds in Maine, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

Collins also went on to detail parts of the bill she supports, including doubling the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000.

“There’s also a doubling of the standard deduction, which means that a family making $24,000 would not pay any income tax,” Collins said. She also pointed to two other bills in the Senate that she said would help lower health insurance premiums, including one she has co-sponsored with Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, that would create high-risk insurance pools aimed at preventing premium increases.

Collins also voiced support for provisions in the Republican reforms that would strip the ACA’s individual mandate tax penalty for those who refuse to purchase health insurance. But she said fixing the ACA should come before any tax reform bill is passed by Congress.

“The fact is that those fines are paid by – overwhelmingly by people who make less than $50,000 a year. Eighty percent of the people who pay the fines fall in that category,” Collins said. “But I’m worried about the impact on premiums (of eliminating the fines). And that’s why we’re going to need to pass legislation. And I would like to see that done before we go to the tax bill.”

Proponents of the tax bill, including Trump, have said it would help stimulate economic growth by providing additional capital to individuals and corporations for investments. They say the bill also would simplify a complex federal tax law, in many cases allowing individuals to file a tax return on a post card, as opposed to the multi-page returns that often require hours to prepare or the assistance of a professional.

ENCOURAGING RETURN OF COMPANIES

This month, Collins appeared with Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and a White House adviser, during an event in Biddeford at Volk Packaging touting the benefits that tax reform would have on small businesses, which provide the bulk of employment in Maine.

Both Ivanka Trump and Collins said that reducing the top tax rate for corporations would encourage the return of companies that have left the United States in order to shelter their profits offshore, along with their jobs and investment.

Meanwhile, an analysis of the most current revision of the Senate tax bill, released Saturday by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, found that the top 1 percent of Maine tax filers would receive the largest tax break, and that by 2027 about 60 percent of those who file federal income taxes in Maine would see a federal tax increase.

The analysis by the Washington-based nonpartisan think tank includes the impact of a repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate. Those making less than $24,319 in 2019 would see an average tax cut of less than $100, while those making $506,560 or more would see an average tax cut approaching $22,000, according to the analysis.

Opponents of the tax reform measures have said the Republican proposals provide the biggest breaks to the wealthiest Americans and corporate entities, at the expense of health care programs or tax provisions that are beneficial to lower- and middle-income families.

“Middle-class families in Maine deserve real, substantive tax relief – not whatever is left to trickle down from the wealthy and corporations,” Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett said in a written statement Monday to the Portland Press Herald. “Sen. Collins has rightly voiced concerns about the bill, but Maine people will ultimately judge her based on how she votes – not on what she says – and if she truly cares about Maine’s middle class, then she will oppose this scam.”

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Colin Ellis contributed to this report.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:

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