VP Pence headed to Indianapolis to tout GOP tax overhaul

Updated 11/9/2017 4:50 PM

PLAINFIELD, Ind. -- Vice President Mike Pence was headed to his home state of Indiana on Thursday to pitch a Republican effort to overhaul the tax code, as the White House seeks to lure support from vulnerable Democrats seeking re-election in Republican states.

Pence was scheduled to meet with local business leaders, participate in a round table discussion and deliver a speech focused on the GOP effort in the Indianapolis suburb of Plainfield.

In recent months, Pence and President Donald Trump have both visited the state, alternately attempting to woo and coerce Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, into backing tax legislation. Donnelly is up for re-election next year, and Indiana went for Trump by almost 20 points during the 2016 election.

During a September visit, the vice president called on Donnelly by name to back the GOP plan at a speech in the struggling former General Motors town of Anderson. Later that month in Indianapolis, Trump threatened to "campaign against (Donnelly) like you wouldn't believe" if he didn't get on board. That came as Donnelly was in the audience and had flown out with the president aboard Air Force One.

The tax overhaul has been pitched by Republicans as way to rev the economy. But others are skeptical that it would make much difference for the vast majority of people - and in some cases cost them more.

"In Indiana, the top 1 percent of earners are going to get 46 percent or so of tax cuts," said Gregory Shufeld, an assistant professor of political science at Butler University, who has reviewed Trump's outline of the plan. "For the vast majority of Indiana residents, the benefits they might see from this type of policy would be about $8 per week."

Still, he said it the push was good politics for Republicans, who have struggled to get much done in Washington, despite controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House.

"Even if this doesn't move Sen. Donnelly's vote, it's starting to prime the discussion for next November," Shufeld said, alluding to midterm elections.

Earlier Thursday, the Senate released its own version of the plan, while the House Ways and Means Committee approved its own version of the legislation.

Pence is a former Indiana governor and represented the state in Congress for 12 years.

The bills in Congress represent the first major reshaping of the U.S. tax code in three decades, and the effort is the top priority for President Donald Trump and Republicans who've failed to deliver any major legislation this year.

Pence's will be joined Thursday by Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb.

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