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RACINE — After efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act fell apart in the U.S. Senate, the focus of congressional leaders shifted to tax reform, with a new bill unveiled on Thursday.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who voted against the health care repeal efforts, hopes local activists and constituents can help kill the tax reform bill.

Baldwin said the tax reform bill, called The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, has been put on a fast track to be signed into law by the end of the year and is being crafted “behind closed doors.”

“Something on this scale can’t be just shoved through,” Baldwin said on Saturday. “It has to be studied and understood, and more folks than just the Republicans in the House and Senate need to be involved in the crafting of it.”

In front of a crowd of more than 50 people in the banquet room of Uncorkt, 240 Main St., Baldwin said the voters’ voices are needed now, more than ever.

“I wish I can tell you that it was a plan that was unveiled by a bipartisan group of members of both houses of Congress. But I’m sad that I can’t, because that’s not how this is unfolding or happening right now,” Baldwin said. “We want a (tax) system that is simpler and fairer. We want a system that rewards hard work as much as the current tax code, currently, unfortunately, rewards wealth.”

There are parts of the bill that still need to be analyzed, Baldwin said. She added that part of this plan would lower the tax rate for people “whose income comes from invested wealth.”

“The bulk of the benefits in this plan go to the top 1 percent among individuals and to powerful, multinational corporations on the business side,” Baldwin said. “And where it ought to be focused is on hard-working people.”

Stronger Way Act

Baldwin touted a bill called The Stronger Way Act, which she co-sponsored with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., that looks at reducing poverty “through the dignity of work.”

“(The bill looks) at barriers that we can identify and reverse in order to help people get ahead,” Baldwin said. “What we ended up with, in terms of the best ideas, was actually a bill that can be prescribed as a tax reform bill.”

Baldwin said the bill looks to enact “simple, straightforward policies” to bring people out of poverty.

“We’ve combined three of them into a measure that would, if voted on in a robust way, could eliminate half of all the poverty in the United States in one fell swoop,” Baldwin said. “It’s transitional jobs to help people who have been out of the workforce for a long time … expansion of earned income tax credit to make it refundable, which it is, but expand it to anyone who works 40 hours a week or more can be above poverty.”

The third measure of the bill, Baldwin said, would be a “significant expansion of the child tax credit and making it fully refundable.”

“Again, recognizing that a family with children, that household is probably going to be a little more costly than if it only has working adults,” Baldwin said. “Those three measures combined could cut poverty by half in the United States.”

Baldwin said in the House tax bill there is an expansion of the child tax credit, “not quite as much as I have in my Stronger Way Act.”

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Reporter

Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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