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Hassan: GOP tax reform bill would hurt middle class

Sunday News Correspondent

December 16. 2017 7:14PM
Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., left, meets Friday with Water Street Bookstore owner Dan Chartrand and Enna Grazier, who's opening a chocolate business in downtown Epping. (Jason Schreiber/Sunday News Correspondent)

EXETER - During a brief stop at Water Street Bookstore on Friday morning, Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., argued the proposed GOP tax reform bill would benefit corporate special interests and the wealthy and hurt middle-class families.

On the same day Republicans released their final version of the bill, Hassan met with bookstore owner Dan Chartrand and Enna Grazier, who was preparing for a grand opening Saturday of her chocolate business on Main Street in Epping.

Hassan, a Democrat from Newfields, said she wanted to hear from owners of the small businesses that drive New Hampshire's economy.

Republican supporters of the bill that provides trillions in tax cuts insist it will lower the tax burden for all income groups, put more money in the pockets of the middle class and say slashing the corporate tax rate will translate into more jobs.

But Chartrand doesn't see it that way and worries that in the end it won't benefit the customers he counts on.

"They're young working families that are just starting out ...?. This tax bill really, to me, kicks the hell out of a community I'm just so woven into," he said.

Hassan said the bill gives benefits to corporate special interests "and the ultrawealthy among us at the expense of middle-class families, working families who make up the bread and butter customer base for businesses like this."

The all-Democratic, all-female congressional delegation had joined Hassan in opposing the bill that is scheduled to face Tuesday the first of two, needed up or down votes, this one in the U.S. House.

"Republicans missed an opportunity to consider tax changes that would benefit the middle class, homeowners, students and small business job creators," Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said in a statement in the wake of the GOP compromise. "Instead, their rushed and chaotic process has produced a massive giveaway to large corporations and high-income households at the expense of Granite Staters who need tax relief."

Gov. Chris Sununu, a first-term Republican recently visited Vice President Mike Pence to offer support for the plan.

He lobbied the delegation to come on board the cause while pressing for an increase in the child tax credit, an 11th-hour addition to the compromise that won over 2016 GOP presidential contender Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

"I appreciate that there are aspects of tax reform that we disagree on," Sununu wrote the N.H. congresswomen. "I understand it may not be politically advantageous for you to work with the Republican majority. I implore you, however, to keep fighting for the citizens of the Granite State, and not remain protesters on the sidelines."

Hassan said she and the small-business owners with whom she's spoken would like to see bipartisan tax reform, but she insisted that this bill wasn't the way to get it done.

Grazier, an Exeter resident, said she doesn't believe the bill will support small businesses.

"I see it designed to benefit the wealthiest individuals and companies in this country, and I don't fall into that category," she said.

She said she also worries about the bill's elimination of the mandate to buy health insurance.

Republicans are reportedly hoping to pass the bill next week.

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