South Dakota Public Utilities Commissioner Chris Nelson, a gooder Republican than whom there is not, today cast doubt on the Trump/Noem tax plan.
It started last night, when lawyer, lobbyist, and Republican Justin Smith tweeted a Los Angeles Times article about “The Republican Tax Bill’s Small-Business Problem”—specifically, as I mentioned passingly in my discussion of the Trump/Noem plan, that the bill does little if anything to share tax relief with most small businesses:
…already about 86% of these so-called pass-through businesses pay no more than 25% under the individual code, the new top rate proposed for small-business income in the tax bill unveiled this week. So they won’t get the legislation’s much-hyped small-business tax cut.
On top of that, the bill makes it very difficult for lawyers, engineers, doctors, consultants and other personal services providers, who make up a good share of small businesses, to qualify for the 25% rate.
“The whole thing doesn’t work for most small businesses,” said Jack Mozloom, spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business, which has declared it does not support the bill at this point.
“We think there ought to be a substantial benefit for everybody,” he said [Jim PUzzanghera and James Rufus Koren, “The Republican Tax Bill’s Small-Business Problem—Most Won’t Benefit from Special New Rate,” Los Angeles Times, 2017.11.03].
Then this morning, Commissioner Nelson, who so far this year has tweeted less than once every three weeks, felt moved to retweet Smith’s tweet and urge Rep. Noem and her colleagues to come up with a better tax plan:
In a not-so-far-off alternative universe, Chris Nelson would have been in that picture with Donald Trump, grinning over the better tax plan that Nelson says we need. He ran for Congress in 2010, only to be beaten by last-minute entrant Kristi Noem in a GOP primary that he should not have lost. Nelson was able to return to political employment when Governor-Elect Dennis Daugaard appointed Nelson to the PUC seat that freshly elected Dusty Johnson declined in favor of serving as Daugaard’s chief of staff.
My most fervid readers may read in Nelson’s Noem nudge a signal that maybe he’d like to play Noem in the 2018 primary: surprise everyone by entering the race in late February, upset the two long-declared candidates, and claim his rightful place in Congress. But Chris Nelson isn’t the kind of guy to stew over a long-past loss. Besides, he owes Dusty his job, and he’s already sent Dusty’s House campaign $250.
Nelson’s tweet is unusual: it’s his only non-PUC political tweet this year. But it may well be just no more than it is: a public statement by a mainstream Republican that the Trump/Noem tax plan doesn’t do enough to help small businesses.
Related: Even among big businesses, the Trump/Noem tax plan seems to fail at promoting real hands-dirty entrepreneurship. Richard Rubin explains in the Wall Street Journal that the GOP plan taxes $2 million many different ways, depending on how it was made:
The passive owner, the dividend-earning investor, and the heir are less directly responsible for the creation of jobs, wealth, and public good than the CEO and the manufacturer, yet those contributing least to the commonwealth pay the least in taxes on their wealth… and genuine small businesses get no break at all. I’m a small-businessman, and I second Commissioner Nelson’s request: Congress, keep working for something better!