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Reed criticized for GOP tax overhaul plan at town hall

Payne Horning
Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) talks tax overhaul at a town hall in Seneca County.

Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) got an earful from an angry crowd in Seneca County over the weekend. He tried to keep things calm at the Romulus Central School town hall on Saturday, but tempers frequently boiled over.

Many of those who attended the event excoriated the Republican for voting for a House budget resolution that would make major cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, while at the same time lower taxes for the wealthy.

“You say that your plan and your budget is going to benefit people in this room – senior citizens, lower income people, middle class people,” said Roxanne Gupta from Ovid. “In fact, it will not. So you can stand up here today, you can use all of the terminology you want that makes it sound as if we are going to have more choices. But frankly, Mr. Reed, I do not believe you.”

Reed, who represents parts of western New York, the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, defended the plan as simple, fair and pro-growth. And he said he was working to preserve the local and state tax income deduction that currently benefits residents in high-tax state like New York.

But the critics did not buy it, leading to several tense exchanges with the congressman.

“You’re the people’s savior on this little teeny thing when in the real world, the big stuff is going in exactly the opposite direction," one person yelled. "That is so ingenuine as to be despicable. I don’t know how you live with yourself making arguments like that."

Reed said the plan's components like eliminating the estate tax do not just benefit the wealthy, noting that some family farms could benefit from removing it. And he went on to say that the 39.6 percent federal income tax rate that the nation's top earners currently pay should "stay on the books," rather than lowering it to 35 percent as proposed in the GOP plan.

The fierce debates were not resolved. They only ended once an hour had passed, when Reed thanked the crowd and prepared to do it all over again in the next town. 

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.