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ICYMI: Senator Collins Discusses Tax Reform on ABC’s “This Week”

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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins appeared on ABC’s “This Week” today with host George Stephanopoulos to discuss tax reform, Senator Al Franken, and Roy Moore.

A transcript of the interview follows:


“This Week”

November 19, 2017


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: Want to continue it now with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine.


Senator Collins, thank you for joining us this morning. You just heard our panel right there. Weigh in, please. Do you think this is a moment where we're going to see real change?


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I do. But I thought that there was one aspect that hasn't been discussed. And that is that the women who bring forth these allegations are often trashed. They're attacked. Their credibility is undermined. We saw that with some of President Clinton's accusers. We know the elaborate attempts that Harvey Weinstein went to in order to discredit his accusers. And that has to stop, as well.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we see -- we saw just recently both -- we're seeing it right now. You mentioned President Clinton. And it certainly did happen then. We also see Roy Moore now calling all of his accusers liars. President Trump, more than a dozen women came forward during the campaign  He says that every single one of them are lying.


COLLINS: He did say that. And, President Trump was not my choice for the Republican nominee for president. And, I did not support him in part because of the way that all of these reports about how he was treating women. He is president now. And, I am working with him on some issues. But those allegations remain very disturbing.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Can you work with Roy Moore? If he gets elected, should he be investigated? Will you vote to expel?


COLLINS: Well, first of all, my hope is that we won't get to that point, and that the voters of Alabama will not elect Roy Moore. I've read his denials. I've listened to his radio interview. And I did not find him to be credible. As more and more allegations come forward, that adds to the weight of evidence against him. I believe, based on my reading of the Constitution, that if he is elected that we have no choice but to seat him.


Then, however, the Ethics Committee could have an investigation. And since I essentially would be a juror, if that happens, I'm not going to comment on what could happen as a result of that investigation. But, I hope that the good voters of Alabama decide not to send him to the United States Senate.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Al Franken is also going to be subject to an Ethics investigation. You can't comment on that either?


COLLINS: Well, first, let me say that I believe the allegations and Al Franken has essentially admitted to them. I'm talking about what the outcome would be if the Ethics Committee proceeds with an investigation, which I believe the Ethics Committee is going to do so.


But I did find the allegations against him to be both credible, disgusting, and appalling, and degrading to women.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's move on to the tax bill. Passed the Senate Finance Committee this week. And a separate tax bill passed the House as well. You're already facing ads back in your home state by a group called "Not One Penny." Let's take a look.




UNIDENTIFIED: It's hard enough for Mainers to find our way in this economy. But the Trump Republican tax plan would leave us lost in the wilderness just to pay for huge tax cuts for the wealthiest. Thankfully, Senator Susan Collins told us that she would say no to tax breaks for the wealthiest.




STEPHANOPOULOS: Can you vote for the bill that passed the Senate Finance Committee?


COLLINS: I want to see changes in that bill. And I think there will be changes. There are some provisions of the House bill that I like better. For example, the House retains the top rate of 39.6 percent for people who make $1 million or more a year. That's a change that I would like to see be made in the Senate bill so that we can skew more of the relief to middle-income taxpayers.


So, some very good provisions in the Senate bill such as the doubling of the child tax credit and making it refundable for people of low income. There’s also a doubling of the standard deduction, which means that a family making $24,000 would not pay any income tax.


So, there are provisions of both bills that I like. But I think the bill needs work.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You can't vote for it as written?


COLLINS: I haven't reached that conclusion yet, because I think there are going to be further changes. But the biggest mistake was putting in a provision from the Affordable Care Act into the Senate bill that is not in the House bill. And I hope that will be dropped or, that bills have been introduced by Senators Alexander and Murray and Bill Nelson and myself will be adopted to mitigate the impact of those provisions.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That provision was put in at the insistence of the president. He was tweeting about it last week. He seems to think that it's the best way to both save some money and to get some of the partial repeal of Obamacare. So, if it stays in the bill, are you against the bill?


COLLINS: It's a problem for me if it is not mitigated. But there is a way to mitigate the impact that it would have on insurance premiums. I do want to point out that that provision, all that provision says is that a person who chooses not to get insurance cannot be fined for that decision.


That's very different from what we were faced with this past summer and fall when insurance was being taken away from people who wanted to be insured.


The fact is that those fines are paid by -- overwhelmingly by people who make less than $50,000 a year, 80 percent of the people who pay the fines fall in that category. But I'm worried about the impact on premiums. And that's why we're going to need to pass legislation. And I would like to see that done before we go to the tax bill.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And unlikely the Democrats are going to support doing that before the tax bill. One other feature of the Senate tax bill is that the corporate tax cuts are permanent, yet the individual tax cuts are temporary.


COLLINS: Again, that's not a provision that I like. The House made both of them permanent. I think that is a far better way to go. I also think the reduction in the business tax rate is too steep, and that we could go to 22 percent, and then use that money, which is about $200 billion, to restore the tax deduction for state and local property taxes. That would really help middle-income taxpayers.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Sounds like you still have a lot of questions about this bill. One other feature pointed out by the Congressional Budget Office this week is that if this bill passes, with the increase in the deficit that it accommodates, over $1.5 trillion, there will be at least $25 billion in Medicare cuts next year.


COLLINS: I have talked to my colleagues about that, because that's obviously something that I cannot support. I do believe that's going to be dealt with as part of the budget negotiations that are ongoing right now. There are ways to reform our entitlement programs, but that is not one of them. The whole idea of across-the-board cuts or sequestration, or offsets that affect some of our most vulnerable citizens or our seniors is not something that I can support.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Senator Collins, listening to you today, it looks like that bill is going to have to change an awful lot before it can get your support. Thank you for joining us this morning.


COLLINS: Thank you, George.