Kim v. Healey with Time Ticking Down

A week or so ago, five Republican House candidates gathered in Trenton to denounce Democrats for not eliminating the infamous SALT cap.

This measure – a legacy of the 2017 tax reform act – limits federal income tax deductions for state and local taxes to $10,000. Before the change, they were unlimited.

Republicans across New Jersey have talked about this the entire campaign. That’s no surprise.

Democrats made eliminating the cap a priority dating back to 2018, but have not followed through.

This issue, not surprisingly, came up at a CD-3 debate Sunday night between Andy Kim and Republican challenger Bob Healey sponsored by the NJ Globe.

Kim had an interesting take on SALT.

“It is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever come across in politics,” he said.

Then he compared it to someone setting a fire and criticizing people for being too slow to put it out.

What’s his point?

Simple. It was the Republicans who created the SALT cap in the first place.

In watching the competitive campaigns in CD-3 and in districts 5, 7 and 11, it seems to me that Democrats have been a bit slow in making that point.

And it’s not a bad one – Republicans are griping that Democrats have not cleaned up the mess Republicans made.

Imposing the $10,000 cap impacted only a few states – all of which were like New Jersey, very “blue.” Which is precisely why Republicans put it in the overall tax bill.

It is a fallacy to say House Dems have not tried to repeal it. The House passed a repeal a few years ago but it never got through the Republican Senate.

But that’s not the bill GOP House candidates are talking about this fall.

Healey and others point to the Inflation Reduction Act, which Dems are happy to talk about because it means lower drug prices. That is being accomplished by capping drug prices in some cases and through beginning in 2026, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Healey said that Kim should have “dug his heels in” and withheld support for the bill unless it eliminated the $10,000 cap. Other GOP candidates have made a similar point.

One must consider that like football, it’s easier to play the game on the sidelines than in the arena.

Some Democrats have said that the benefits of that bill were too important to oppose. That’s a valid point, but it doesn’t obscure the fact SALT may still be a political liability for them

The larger point here is what happens if Republicans win – not just in New Jersey, but nationally.

Would a new GOP Congress really care all that much about helping taxpayers in New Jersey by eliminating the $10,000 cap?

If nothing else, that could give Healey and any other freshmen House Republicans from New Jersey a chance to dig in their heels and demand it.

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