By Andrew O'Reilly
Published April 15, 2019
President Trump spent his tax filing day in Minnesota, where he touted his $1.5 trillion package of corporate and individual tax cuts he signed into law in 2017 and made a pitch for his 2020 reelection.
Speaking at a trucking company in the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville on Monday, Trump said he hoped his economic message would be met with enthusiasm from a state that he came within 1.5 percentage points of carrying in 2016.
“We promised that these tax cuts would be rocket fuel to the economy and we were right,” Trump said during a roundtable discussion.
In his remarks the president said the economy was doing well and that the recent tax cuts were "working very, very well."
Besides taxes, Trump also argued that his tariffs on imported steel were helping blue-collar workers in Minnesota’s more rural north and leading to a resurgence in the mining industry due to increased demand from domestic steelmakers.
While the trip was billed as a chance to meet with local business leaders on Tax Day, Minnesota likely will play a crucial role in deciding Trump’s chances of winning reelection next fall as well.
Minnesota, which gave the country Vice Presidents Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, both Democrats, hasn't given its 10 electoral votes to a Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972.
The state's Democrats saw a huge overall resurgence during the anti-Trump backlash of 2018, notably in traditionally Republican suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Giving the president hope is the memory that his popularity outside the Twin Cities area helped the GOP flip two U.S. House seats away from the Democrats last year.
The tax cuts were lambasted on Sunday by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat in the 2020 White House race, arguing that they added trillions of dollars to the nation's debt and disproportionately helped the wealthy.
"That tax bill was a major missed opportunity," she said. "That tax bill should have been a bill that would have not only brought some taxes down for working people but also could have funded a major infrastructure investment."
So far Trump doesn't appear to be getting much credit for the tax changes. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll last week showed that most Americans didn't think they even got a tax cut. Just 17 percent of those polled believed their taxes went down.
More evidence came from a report by tax preparer H&R Block on Thursday that said Americans were undergoing a "confusing tax experience" this season. While its customers' overall tax liability fell 24.9 percent in the first year under the new tax law, refunds were roughly flat at just 1.4 percent. While the average filer was better off, it said, they weren't seeing it in their refunds, "which many people think of as their 'bottom line.'"
Federal data also showed a negligible increase in refunds. According to the IRS, as of March 29 the average refund nationally was $2,893, which was just $20 more than at the same point last tax season.
Further muddling the picture was the federal deduction for state and local taxes being capped at $10,000, which has mattered in high-tax states such as Minnesota, California and New York, among others.
Along with discussions on taxes, trade and the economy, Trump also expressed his shock and sadness for the massive fire that was devastating the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris – calling the blaze something “that is beyond country, it’s beyond everything.”
“The fire that they’re having at the Notre Dame Cathedral is something like few have witnessed,” he said, adding that the church was “one of the great treasures of the world.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.