Tax reform measure comes with promises, praise and criticism

Depending on who you ask, the newly passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will be good – or bad – for working Montana families. Some say it will put money in their pockets while others call it little more than a complex scam.

Sen. Steve Daines joined his fellow Republican lawmakers in passing President Donald Trump’s “big, beautiful” plan into law this week, saying it will return more than $700 million in tax cuts to Montanans.

The average Montanan, Daines said, will save $1,600 in taxes.

“Getting the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act across the finish line means families will see bigger paychecks, Main Street businesses will be able to hire more workers, and America will compete and win on the world stage,” Daines said in a statement. “Montanans’ hard-earned dollars belong in their pockets – not in Washington, D.C.’s coffers.”

Opponents, however, have panned the measure as a deficit-busting giveaway to corporations and the wealthy that will do little for middle-income earners. Earlier this month, Gov. Steve Bullock warned that the plan will have hurtful impacts on the state budget.

But Daines said 99 percent of Montanans will receive a tax cut. A family of four with a median income of around $73,000 will see a tax savings of nearly $2,200, he said. Those claiming children will see the child tax credit increase from $1,000 to $2,000.

Despite those claims, the Montana Democratic Party blasted the plan as a tax scam that places corporations and the rich before the needs of working families. Not a single Democrat voted for the measure.

“This tax scam will raise health care premiums, cut Medicare for Montana seniors and add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, mortgaging our children’s future so the super-rich can line their pockets,” said Montana Democratic Party chairperson Nancy Keenan.

After passing the legislation, Daines – who appeared on CNN behind the president during Wednesday’s celebration – rolled out a list of statements from supporters of the new plan, including the Montana Chamber of Commerce and the Montana Petroleum Association.

NeighborWorks Great Falls and Missoula International Airport also lauded the tax plan for protecting what’s known as Private Activity Bonds. Such bonds offer low interest on taxes paid by investors who purchase the bonds.

“With the design of a new terminal underway, Missoula International Airport is extremely grateful to Sen. Daines and to Congress for protecting the exempt status of Private Activity Bonds for airports,” said airport director Cris Jensen. “This protection will result in a potential cost savings of over $2 million in additional expense, which is money that can be spent on much-needed infrastructure as opposed to interest.”

The conservation community, however, criticized the tax plan for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. The Natural Resource Defense Council called it a “shameful betrayal and a fraud on the American people.”

“The purpose of setting a sanctuary aside is to keep it safe from exactly this kind of industrial – and permanent – ruin,” said Rhea Suh, the organization’s president. “This is merely the latest gambit in a GOP campaign to liquidate our public lands and waters.”