Wisconsin lawmakers talk tax reform

U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. / AP photo

GRAND CHUTE (WLUK) -- U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is the first Republican to say publicly he opposes the Senate GOP's tax bill. Not because of the issue of requiring everyone to have health insurance, but because he sees it as unfair to smaller businesses.

It's been a busy week in Congress as members of both houses work to pass tax reform by Christmas.

However, Johnson has said he will not vote for the current Senate bill. He says that's because it doesn't treat "pass through entities" fairly. Those tend to be smaller businesses in which the owner is taxed directly on the businesses income.

In a statement Johnson said, in part:

"These businesses truly are the engines of innovation and job creation throughout our economy, and they should not be left behind. Unfortunately, neither the House nor Senate bill provide fair treatment, so I do not support either in their current versions. I do, however, look forward to working with my colleagues to address the disparity so I can support the final version."

The House of Representatives is set to vote on its own tax reform bill Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-6th District, told FOX 11 News he will be voting yes, despite the "pass through entity" issue.

"I agree with Ron Johnson. It's a problem. I just don't think it's a big enough problem to let the whole bill die," Grothman told us by phone Wednesday going on to say under the House plan taxes will fall for most middle class families, although not everyone.

He said the highlight of the bill is the cut to the corporate tax rate to help bring back jobs.

"Let's face it, the marginal tax rate on a corporate return is part of that. If you don't lower the marginal tax rate on a corporate return you're not competitive with Europe, you're not competitive with Asia, you're going to be losing jobs on that alone," Grothman explained.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, remains skeptical of both the House and Senate plans, which have been largely authored by Republicans.

Through a statement she addressed the Senate bill specifically, saying, in part:

"Powerful corporations get permanent tax breaks and 13 million Americans making less than $200,000 a year will see a tax increase in 2019. The top 1% gets their tax breaks and they want to pay for it by ripping health care away from 13 million people, increasing health care premiums by up to 10%."

Baldwin is critical of the Senate bill eliminating the individual healthcare mandate. Grothman told us that is actually something the House would likely vote for in a final bill.

U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher's office did not want to comment on our story Wednesday. A representative said Gallagher, R-8th District, would likely speak Thursday, after the House vote.

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