Politics & Government

Paul Ryan talks taxes on the campaign trail for Andy Barr in Kentucky

Paul Ryan joins Andy Barr at Georgetown Toyota to talk on tax cuts

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Paul Ryan joined representative Andy Barr at the Toyota plant in Georgetown to talk about tax cut policies they both had enacted.
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Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Paul Ryan joined representative Andy Barr at the Toyota plant in Georgetown to talk about tax cut policies they both had enacted.

U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan didn’t talk about the upcoming election during a stop Tuesday in Georgetown, and he didn’t tell the assembled group of employees at the Toyota Tsusho America factory to get out and vote for U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, who was beside him.

Instead, the man who has fostered a reputation of being a policy wonk talked about his signature piece of legislation while running the House of Representatives: tax reform.

“We’re very excited to see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears, economic growth,” Ryan said.

Barr often talks about the tax plan as he battles with Democratic candidate Amy McGrath to keep his seat representing Central Kentucky in Congress. In his campaign mailers and on the stump, Barr touts that the average family of four will get about $2,000 in tax cuts under the bill.

But on Tuesday, the conversation was less about the “middle class” tax cuts, as he has branded the legislation on the campaign trail, and more about what tax cuts are doing for large businesses, such as Toyota.

Toyota Tsusho Senior Vice President Arthur Harrison told the employees they’ve already seen the benefits of the tax bill in their paychecks, and that it is creating more cash-flow that will allow the business can expand.

“This has been a bonanza for auto manufacturing and manufacturing in general,” Barr said.

McGrath has been critical of the tax cuts. In the only debate between the two candidates on Monday, McGrath called it a “tax scam” and said it benefited the wealthy and corporations more than it benefited middle class Kentuckians.

According to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, the richest 20 percent of Kentuckians are receiving 69 percent of the tax cut.

Toyota and other auto makers have been in the news more lately because of the steel and aluminum tariffs that resulted from President Donald Trump’s trade war.

Neither Barr nor Ryan talked about the tariffs until they were asked by a Toyota employee who pointed out that many of the gains of the tax cut were at risk of being negated by the tariffs.

Barr recognized that the price of steel and aluminum has gone up because of the tariffs, but said he supports Trump’s attempts to renegotiate trade deals.

“The general objectives of the administration are right on,” Barr said. “We need to get fair free trade, we need reciprocal trade. We just want to exercise our oversight to make sure that the strategy is actually working.”

Ryan said he thinks Trump’s efforts are working and said that it has helped bring Europe and Japan to the table.

Though Ryan didn’t talk politics Tuesday, his super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, has invested heavily in Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District. The group has spent more than $3 million in the district over the course of the campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and has launched several attack ads against McGrath.

The Kentucky Democratic Party has been critical of some of the ads run by the Congressional Leadership Fund, saying they are inflammatory at a time when explosive devices were recently sent to prominent national Democrats and a Pittsburgh man went on an anti-Semitic shooting spree in a synagogue.

“At Paul Ryan’s direction, CLF has run a barrage of negative ads that are offensive and intended to scare Americans in a way that incites the worst behavior,” said Marisa McNee, a spokeswoman with the Kentucky Democratic Party. “The voters of Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District are sick and tired of Paul Ryan’s disgusting ads against Amy McGrath.”

Ryan is the second prominent Republican to campaign with Barr in the district. Earlier this month, Trump held a rally in Richmond.

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