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In Western Pa., Senate tax plan elicits strong reactions, and a touch of willful ignorance

Madasyn Czebiniak
| Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Gary Adams
Joe Napsha/Tribune-Review
Gary Adams
Lori Stripay
Joe Napsha/Tribune-Review
Lori Stripay

Western Pennsylvanians have mixed emotions regarding a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that Senate Republicans passed early Saturday — some surveyed were for it, some were against and some didn't have an opinion at all.

Arnold resident Nancy Planitzer said she's taking the ignorance-is-bliss approach when it comes to minute details of the Senate bill, which would slash corporate tax rates and create other tax cuts while eliminating numerous deductions.

“Whatever the negatives are for the poor people — it's going to probably affect me,” Plan­itzer said. “If I don't know it ahead of time, I'm not going to have so much to worry about.”

Critics of the bill say the deductions it eliminates would hurt the working class, while Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the deal would add $1 trillion to the federal deficit over a decade.

The bill additionally repeals the individual coverage mandate from the Affordable Health Care Act and authorizes oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Steve Schlauch, Plum Republican Committee chairman and school board member, said he believes the tax plan approval is good for America.

“I think it's good for all the people, not just certain classes,” Schlauch said. “I think (President) Trump's plan going forward is going to help create jobs, create prosperity and strengthen the economy as a whole. Everyone will reap the benefits of the tax reform.”

Mary Ann Pastorek of Tarentum also said the bill would be good for the country. Lowering the corporate tax rate could help the economy because it might bring manufacturing businesses back to the United States, she said.

Starting in 2019, the bill would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

“I'm positive about it,” Pastorek said.

Gary Adams, longtime owner of Bortz Hardware store in Greensburg, is hopeful the tax plan will help small businesses like his.

“We'll all know, when it takes effect,” Adams said.

Others ripped the Republicans' proposed tax reform. Lori Stripay of South Greensburg said the bill is destructive, while her sister Susan Stripay of Southwest Greensburg said it hurts the middle class.

The Rev. Teralyn Bossio of Joseph's Coat Community Outreach Ministry in Arnold also isn't happy about the bill.

“I think the tax bill was for those that passed the bill,” Bossio said. “I don't think that we were in mind — the people that are medium income or lower.

“I think there are some people at my congregation that are going to suffer.”

Rich Romeo of New Kensington fears the money used to pay for the tax cuts will come from social programs like Medicare and Social Security. He is retired and on both.

“My opinion is that it's a tax break for wealthy people, and it's going to hurt everyone who isn't wealthy,” Romeo said. “I don't like the fact that they say 13 million people will lose their health care coverage.”

Staff writers Joseph Napsha and Mike Divittorio contributed. Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4702, mczebiniak@tribweb.com or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.

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