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Clinton-Peabody tour

Current and former Clinton-Peabody residents talk to Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., during McCaskill's tour of the facility April 14, 2018.

WASHINGTON • Sen. Claire McCaskill says she would vote to repeal tax cuts aimed at the rich in the bill passed by Republicans and signed into law by President Donald Trump late last year, but that she would “never vote to repeal the parts that help middle-class families.”

“But there are parts of it that I would look at,” McCaskill, D-Mo., told the Post-Dispatch.

“For example, I don’t think people who make $400,000 in Missouri need a child-care tax credit. I am not sure that my family needs to pay less in estate taxes. I am not sure the pharmaceutical industry needs the level of windfall they have received without lowering prescription drug prices.

“So there are parts of it that I would look at, but I would never touch the parts that are actually delivering savings to the majority of the people in my state," she said.

Republicans have pushed the tax cuts, which could add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, as economy-spurring relief for taxpayers at all income levels. But McCaskill and all the other Democrats in Congress voted against it, and those Democrats campaigning for re-election are attacking the measure as tilted toward the rich.

Senate Democratic Leader has made repealing cuts as a priority for his caucus, and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is urging Democratic Senate candidates to focus on the tax measure.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a red state or a blue state, the idea of running up the debt by $1.5 trillion and cutting Medicare and Medicaid to pay for tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthy is not popular,” Van Hollen told The Associated Press.

Missouri Republicans, including Attorney General Josh Hawley, who is the leading contender to face McCaskill in the fall, pushed back, saying that electing a Democratic majority in the Senate would imperil the tax cuts Republicans passed in December.

Hawley issued a press release saying that “as (McCaskill) continues to rake in millions from liberal elites who want to raise taxes on the middle-class, Missourians deserve to know if Senator McCaskill will repeal our new tax cuts.” 

Republicans have attacked McCaskill for having a fundraiser next month with entertainment industry leaders and former President Barack Obama in Beverly Hills, Calif.

On Wednesday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell again attacked House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s claim that most taxpayers got “crumbs” in tax relief under the GOP plan.

 “To be fair, in the wealthiest parts of San Francisco or New York City, maybe a thousand dollars does look like a rounding error,” McConnell said. 

McCaskill, one of the Senate’s wealthiest members, said that “some of the stuff that my family is getting (in tax relief) is outrageous.

To the claim that middle-income taxpayers got “crumbs,” McCaskill said: “I think in comparison with what some of the wealthy people are getting it is very modest. It doesn’t mean I am looking down my nose at the fact that they are getting something. It just means I am looking at in in the context of how much more the wealthy are getting.”

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Chuck Raasch is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.