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Ohio Senate Democratic Leader Calls GOP Tax Plan ‘Un-American’

COLUMBUS - Calling it a plan written for the wealthy, Ohio Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney took aim at the new Republican tax proposal.

Calling it a plan written for the wealthy, Ohio Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney took aim at the new Republican tax proposal.

"It's un-American, really, what they're doing because they're picking winners," said Kearney. "They're saying to a certain class of business owner, particularly investors in business, ‘We want you to benefit exponentially from our new tax policy.  And we're paying for it on the backs of small businesses that are based in Ohio and everyday Ohioans every time you buy anything.’”

Appearing for a taping of Capitol Square, Kearney took aim at Gov. John Kasich and the GOP majority at the statehouse.

"This Republican legislature had four strikes to get tax policy right and they failed each time," said Kearney. "The governor introduced tax policy.  He wanted to raise sales taxes on every service in the state.  The House had their tax policy, the Senate had their policy.  Then earlier this week, they rolled out a fourth version that increases taxes for every Ohioan."

House Finance Committee chairman Ron Amstutz doesn't disagree with the premise that wealthier Ohioans will benefit more from the GOP plan.

"Those that are disproportionately benefiting from this are those that are disproportionately paying the tax," said Amstutz. "That works all the way down. Those that aren't paying much aren't going to see as much.  It's a balanced package. It's all the brackets reducing at the same amount."

Amstutz, also appearing on Capitol Square, said while Ohioans will receive tax relief, they should not expect to see immediate economic improvements.

"Let's not wax into the hyperbole here because we have certain things we can control at the state level," said Amstutz. "There's a tendency to say the world is going to get so much better because we just changed the tax code. I think it will be incrementally better and help our economy be stronger which otherwise wouldn't be the case.  But let's not oversell this and make people think we're going to have a corner of heaven."

Kearney says the GOP plan will hurt more than it helps.

"If you're a struggling person and you don't have many resources, or much money, you have to pay more so that hurts you more," said Kearney. "The income tax break only helps the wealthy.  They also raise taxes on businesses. They don't talk about that but they lower the ceiling on the CAT tax. So they're actually hurting everyday Ohioans, hurting small business owners and trying to sell it as a tax cut and it's not."

Part of the Republican strategy is to slowly move the state away from an income tax and toward a consumption tax.

Republican strategist Terry Casey says that idea will benefit more Ohioans.

"If you ask most people if they would rather have a shift more into consumption taxes rather than income taxes, they'd say the sales tax is a lot better," said Casey. "The sales taxes, don't forget, are exempt on the food you buy at the grocery store, rent, medical and prescriptions."

But Democratic strategist Sam Gresham says it's a plan that hurts the middle class and poor.

"If you own a business and you're rich, you're going to be very happy with this plan," said Gresham.  "If you're a middle class working family or poor people you're going to be upset.  The winners have been decided and they're the supporters of the Republicans in power."

The interviews with Kearney and Amstutz can be seen on Capitol Square this Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on 10TV.