HARRISBURG, Pa. — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty does not support raising taxes on the middle class and says ending corporate tax breaks and increasing taxes on the millionaires and billionaires could pay for programs to finance paid family leave and reduce college student costs, her campaign said this week.
Opposing a middle-class tax increase would put McGinty in line with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has said repeatedly that she would not raise taxes on middle-class incomes.
McGinty is running to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a first-term fiscal conservative who argued this week that McGinty does indeed support proposals that would subject the middle class to higher taxes.
He points to McGinty’s support for raising the income cap for Social Security payroll taxes, currently at $118,500, to extend the solvency of the fund. He notes that she backs a Democratic proposal in Congress to finance up to 12 weeks of paid personal or family leave. That proposal involves a new 0.2 percent payroll tax to finance it, but the McGinty campaign said that is just one option to pay for it.
Neither Toomey nor McGinty provided a definition of middle-class income.
Toomey pointed to McGinty’s service as a top aide to Gov. Tom Wolf last year while Wolf was seeking a multi-billion dollar tax increase.
“It’s a very stark contrast between my work to lower the tax burden and Katie McGinty, who has always been and remains an advocate for much higher taxes on the middle class,” Toomey told reporters during an appearance Thursday in suburban Philadelphia.
McGinty’s campaign accused Toomey of supporting tax-cutting plans in the Senate that would heavily favor the wealthy, and of being absent when it comes to helping working parents.
“Pat Toomey and Republicans don’t even acknowledge that it’s a problem, and they sure aren’t offering any solutions,” it said.
All told, hundreds of billions of dollars over a decade would be required to finance ideas that McGinty supports, including a Clinton proposal to lower college tuition and student debt and Democratic proposals in Congress to expand pre-kindergarten subsidies and child care tax credits.
The McGinty campaign said the cost can be footed by corporations and the wealthy, while the program benefits would amount to “tax cuts for the middle class” by helping families afford child care and college.
In the Senate, Toomey supported a compromise plan signed by President Barack Obama that allowed decade-old across-the-board tax cuts lapse for individuals making $400,000 or more annually and couples making $450,000 or more.
Toomey also cast votes on Republican budget resolutions that proposed deep income tax cuts across the board, to be balanced by the elimination of unspecified tax deductions.
Citing studies by Senate Democrats and left-leaning policy organizations, the McGinty campaign said that those GOP proposals would largely benefit the wealthy and that eliminating tax deductions would translate into a middle-class tax increase.
However, the Toomey campaign cited an independent study that says that a repeal of tax deductions could be limited to a certain percentage of income or a specified dollar amount to protect lower- and middle-class taxpayers.
The McGinty campaign also has sought to portray Toomey as out of touch with the middle class by citing a 2007 interview in which Toomey — then the head of the anti-tax, free-market advocacy organization, Club for Growth — told a CNBC interviewer that all corporate taxes should be repealed.
Democrats attacked Toomey over that interview in the 2010 campaign, and Toomey acknowledged that eliminating corporate taxes is unrealistic, and he defended the need to maintain Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, albeit with changes to control costs.