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Suozzi expresses doubt on Trump tax plan

October 3, 2017

By: 

Luke Torrance
The Island Now

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) says he does not think the tax plan President Trump outlined last month will pass because it lacks bipartisan support.

“I don’t think the tax package is going to happen,” he said Friday in a sit-down interview with Blank Slate Media. “I don’t think anything is going to happen unless people reach across party lines.”

Trump’s plan calls for cuts in corporate taxes, fewer brackets for individual taxpayers and an increase in the standard deduction. But it omitted many details, including which tax breaks would be dropped. Democrats have assailed the plan as a giveaway to the rich that will run up the deficit.

A bipartisan approach has been one of Suozzi’s major principles since the freshman representative took office in January. He is vice chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats that works to forge bipartisan solutions to problems.

Suozzi was one of 34 former and current members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican, who signed an amicus curiae brief urging the Supreme Court to end partisan gerrymandering. The court heard arguments on Tuesday in the case, which may determine whether partisan gerrymandering can violate the Constitution.

“It is half Democrats, half Republicans, before the United States Supreme Court, to try and change partisan gerrymandering in America,” he said. “That’s taking action that could have an impact … that will change the country. That will hold people accountable.”

One piece of legislation that would need bipartisan support is the Close Official Acts Loophole Act, which Suozzi introduced. The bill would fight corruption by altering the definition of “official acts” by politicians.

“If you’re doing these things – setting up the meetings, referring the people, getting the grants – that’s an official act. And if you’re getting this money in return for it, that’s illegal.”

The bill’s introduction was prompted by overturned corruption charges in Suozzi’s backyard: the case against former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son that accused Skelos of offering political assistance to companies in exchange for payment, and the case accusing former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of receiving illegal payments from law firms.

“It was clear they got the money, it was clear they were getting the clients referred, in the case of Silver,” he said. “It was clear with Dean Skelos’ son … [but] the official act was not defined.”

The convictions of Skelos and Silver were overturned on appeal after a U.S. Supreme decision narrowed the definition of an “official act.”

There have been other areas where Suozzi has looked for bipartisan compromise. In August, he wrote an opinion piece with Pennsylvania Republican Ryan Fitzpatrick on the Problem Solvers Caucus five-point plan to fix health care. Initially, the plan was tossed aside by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“But now it’s coming back again,” Suozzi said. “Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander are starting up again and they’re going to be using our template,” referring to the Democratic senator from Washington and the Republican senator from Tennessee, respectively.

He also said the caucus had previously discussed working together on taxes and infrastructure.

To forge these relationships, Suozzi said he has spent much of his free time in Washington meeting as many people as possible from both parties. He held a fundraiser with Democratic Reps. Jimmy Panetta of California and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey. He attends a workout class in the morning with members of both parties and has practiced for the Congressional football game, where congressmen will take on the Capitol police.

“I’m constantly working to build relationships and I think in the long run it will serve me well,” he said.