On the heels of a historic federal tax cut, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, his wife Abigail and son Charlie, visited Washington Wednesday to tour two local businesses which have already benefited from federal tax credits.
During the frigid visit Blunt told a gathering of city and business leaders Washington was one of his favorite cities to visit and it was great to see businesses taking advantage of historic federal tax credits to make projects work.
Blunt made the comments at the recently renovated dentist office, which now houses the Bryan Haynes studio and gallery on Second Street. The 134-year-old building was recently renovated and Haynes opened his studio there in mid-November.
Before the warmth of the studio, Blunt visited a building on Front Street being renovated by Rick and Karen Marquart to eventually house a Mexican restaurant and other businesses and apartments.
In a past life, the building was home to one of the several corn cob pipe factories in the county and a hat company.
“Missouri uses more historic tax credits than any other state,” Blunt said. “There were even more tax credits placed in the big tax bill that was just passed.”
Blunt also addressed some of the criticisms the new tax bill has received from its opponents that it will only benefit a certain percentage of the population.
“The more wrong people were, the louder they got,” Blunt said. “Half of the population is not paying any income tax. You can’t get any better that.”
“The proof is in the pudding,” he said. “Beginning next year, people will have more money to take home. A family of four making $73,000 per year will see about a $2,000 more to take home.”
He added opponents argued $200 per month was not much money.
“Tell someone who doesn’t have $200 that,” Blunt said. “We have to look at this more as a tax cut instead of tax reform.”
He added the tax cuts will serve a twofold purpose by putting more money in individuals’ pockets and helping businesses create more jobs with the money they are saving in taxes each year.
To pay for the recent tax cuts, President Trump, in his proposed budget, made $4.1 trillion cuts in entitlements and spending in every federal department while at the same time lifting thousands of restrictions and regulations.
One area of focused and increased spending is defense with a proposed 10 percent increase up to $574.5 billion.
Blunt says the additional defense funds are overdue and more is still needed in other areas.
“The increase in military spending needs to happen,” Blunt said. “We have to compensate the men and women who are risking their lives to defend our country and keep us safe.”
He added in addition to direct military spending, many people are working domestically to keep citizens out of harm’s way and budget increases are warranted for Homeland Security as well.
In Trump’s budget, the Department of Homeland Security would receive a nearly 7 percent increase up to $44.1 billion, and the Department of Veterans Affairs would see a nearly 6 percent increase, bumping its overall budget up to $78.8 billion.
Blunt also touched briefly on upcoming legislation for 2018.
With the tax reform as arguably his biggest legislative success, Trump has hinted a massive transportation and infrastructure bill may be next.
Blunt says any legislation that comes in the new year must be done in an efficient way and he again referred to how the tax credits allow the government to work directly with citizens to infuse the economy.
If an infrastructure bill does come, it may be similar in form to President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was designed to put federal money directly into shovel-ready projects to not only improve infrastructure, but to also stimulate job growth. “We have to find ways to get the maximum out of the money,” Blunt said. “Maybe the answer is more private/public partnerships to best allow the states and citizens to use the money.”
As the Trump administration gains momentum in the next three years, Blunt says the need for bipartisanship and unity of his own Republican Party will be needed to benefit the American people.
He said recent rumors about fellow Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, running against Trump in the 2020 primary were just that, rumors.
“If anyone did decide to do that, they certainly would have a forum,” Blunt said. “This is a time for Democrats and Republicans to work in a less partisan way. One step and one item at a time.”