Joyce backs permanent tax cuts during stop in Somerset County
Even as U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-Blair County, spoke about a wide range of issues that impact the economy, including regulations, the opioid crisis, rural broadband, health insurance and the proposed completion of U.S. Route 219, he singled out one agenda item as his most important when addressing members of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
The freshman congressman supports legislation that would make permanent the changes for individuals and small businesses established with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Joyce, from the 13th Congressional District, plans to co-sponsor H.R. 22, which would keep the increase in the standard deduction, the increase in and modifications of the child tax credit and the repeal of the deduction for personal exemptions that were put into place two years ago.
Those policies for individuals and “pass-through” businesses are set to go away at the end of 2025, while, in comparison, the drop in corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent is permanent.
“That is unacceptable to me,” Joyce said during a luncheon at Somerset Country Club.
A similar bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives but stalled in the U.S. Senate during the last Congress.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act nearly doubled the standard deduction for single filers ($6,350 to $12,000) and married couples ($12,700 to $24,000) and doubled the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000, while eliminating deductions.
It also created a 20-percent deduction for pass-through businesses – sole proprietors, limited liability companies, partnerships and S corporations – that have incomes that are reported and taxed on the business owner’s personal returns instead of at the corporate tax rate.
Joyce believes making the changes permanent will provide economic certainty moving forward. He cited the tax cuts as a reason why, in his opinion, unemployment has decreased by 23 percent in the district’s 10 counties, including 31 percent in Somerset County, since January 2017.
“There is no doubt that the federal tax cuts have been a huge win for our area,” Joyce said.
Joyce also assessed the local and national economic climate from his own perspective as a small business owner.
“Washington might be new to me, but my knowledge of the business climate in our region and your unique needs are not new to me,” Joyce said. “Working hard on legislation and initiatives to provide the opportunities to drive economic growth and expansion in Pennsylvania 13 is something that I’ve focused a great deal of time on.
“The good news is that I took the office on the heels of some of the best two years our economy has seen in a long time.”
Shawn Kaufman, the chamber’s president, described the congressman as “clearly an advocate for small business.”
“I think he understands how important it is to drive our economy and the issues that we face with manpower being the largest one, but certainly regulation and health care,” Kaufman said. “He’s doing what he can to help us in those areas.”
Joyce, a dermatologist, discussed the interconnection between health care, the opioid crisis and the economy.
“We can’t talk about health care without addressing the opioid crisis,” Joyce said. “I am incredibly interested in how we can solve that and work together. Physicians have to share responsibility for the opioid crisis. We went through a time when there was an overabundance and an overprescription of opioids to the population at large. I won’t shirk away from that responsibility. The medical community helped create part of this problem.”
Dealing with agriculture, Joyce offered his support for the Dairy and Sheep H–2A Visa Enhancement Act, which would provide for a three-year initial period of admission with additional three-year extensions for temporary agricultural workers.
In another dairy matter, Joyce would like to see fat milks returned into schools, feeling their removal has cost dairy farmers potential current young drinkers and possible future customers.
“I’ll put the doctor hat back on,” Joyce said. “The vitamins in milk are carried in the fat. Vitamins A, D, E and K. You don’t have to go back to science class for that because I’ll keep saying it enough that people will hear it. Those vitamins are fat-soluble vitamins. You take the fat out of milk, you’ve got chalky water, and students don’t drink it, and it ends up being thrown away.”