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Trump to highlight tax overhaul in first presidential stop to St. Louis area

Donald Trump leaves the stage after a March 2016 speech at the Peabody Opera House.
File photo I Bill Greenblatt | UPI
Donald Trump leaves the stage after a March 2016 speech at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis. The president will be speaking about a tax cut plan on Wednesday in St. Charles.

President Donald Trump will promote federal tax cuts on Wednesday during an afternoon event at the St. Charles Convention Center.

This will be his first visit to the St. Louis area – and his second to Missouri — since taking office almost a year ago.

Trump’s choice of St. Charles isn’t surprising because St. Charles County is one of Missouri’s biggest Republican strongholds. In November 2016, it provided the second-largest bloc of GOP votes in the state.

Trump carried Missouri by almost 19 points in the 2016 presidential election, leading to a GOP wave that swept in Republicans for every statewide office on the ballot.

The president’s visit comes amid this week’s expected U.S. Senate debate over its version of a tax overhaul.  The U.S. House passed its proposal earlier this month.

Both tax measures have generated controversy, with critics zeroing in on provisions — especially in the House bill — that would eliminate deductions for student loans, teacher spending, and for local and state taxes.   

Supporters point to other provisions that would increase families’ income exemptions, child care credits and lower taxes on businesses.

Various nonpartisan reviews of the proposals have concluded that some income groups would see their taxes increase over the next few years, while others — generally at the higher end — would see a tax cut.

Trump focused on tax cuts during his visit in August to Springfield, Missouri, saying change is needed to encourage economic growth. “The foundation of our job-creation agenda is to fundamentally reform our tax code for the first time in 30 years,” the president said at the time.

Missouri's U.S. Senate race another likely target

Trump also focused during that Springfield stop on Missouri’s top Democrat – U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill – who will be seeking re-election next year.  He called on Missourians to defeat her if she didn’t back a tax-cut bill.

So far, McCaskill has been critical of the main GOP bill in the Senate, saying it favors the wealthy and will hurt most middle-class and lower-income taxpayers in Missouri. The Missouri Democratic Party agrees, summarizing its view of the tax proposals as "higher taxes on millions of middle-class Missourians. More expensive healthcare. Less money in the pockets of seniors throughout the entire state."

Her most prominent Republican rival, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, will be joining Trump at Wednesday’s event. Hawley said in a statement, "I look forward to hearing President Trump talk about his tax reform plan that will bring much needed relief to Missouri families. I support the President’s plan; it’s unfortunate that Claire McCaskill sides with Washington’s elite while leaving Missouri behind."

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, backs the Senate tax-cut bill — but may need to stay in Washington for a possible vote.

Trump was last in St. Louis in March 2016, when he held a campaign rallyat the Peabody Opera House downtown. He won Missouri’s GOP presidential primary soon afterward.

Follow Jo on Twitter: @jmannies

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.