As the first vote on the GOP tax plan nears, the White House again dispatched another prominent face to New Jersey in an effort to get small business people to buy into the plan, in a state where now just one member of Congress say he is in favor of it.
Kellyanne Conway, a self-proclaimed Jersey girl and close presidential advisor, visited the famed Papa’s Tomato Pies in Robbinsville to meet with a random collection of small business owners. What transpired was a carefully choreographed “round table” where guests shared their thoughts after listening to a Conway statement.
“Through middle-class tax cuts and through a reduction in what our job creators pay in their rate to 20 percent, we’re trying to make it more competitive so that all of you can survive and succeed, not just survive but prosper. And a competitive environment is a rising tide that lifts all boats,” said Conway.
In some circles, that’s called trickle-down economics, whose effectiveness is often the subject of great debate, but, by observation, this crowd didn’t need much convincing and when Conway’s phone rang in the middle of the introduction, the meeting stopped.
“Ok, thank you. I’m sorry, it’s the vice president,” said Conway.
When she returned, she brought a guest, on the phone any way.
“‘Good afternoon, everybody,” the vice president said. “Nick and Mike, thanks for opening up Papa’s Tomato Pies for a very important conversation about the future of the country and thanks for giving Kellyanne Conway such a warm welcome.'”
But, right after, a White House staffer ushered media out of Papa’s for the closed portion of the meeting. After being advised that the media Q&A wasn’t going to happen, Conway came out to reiterate points she’d made inside, until the media insisted.
The president’s advisor hung in for three questions, much of it reiterated from the presentation inside. So, were the randomly-chosen business owners impressed, convinced? What about losing that deduction for state and local taxes, which opponents have been talking about?
“[It] could be a huge burden, so we talked a little bit about that, understanding that we do ask the rest of the country to pay for that deduction for us. I grew up in Texas where there is no state income tax, so to ask citizens to pay for a cut for New Jerseyans, when a lot of the high taxes we pay here are really the result of our state government,” said Kathryn Fried, CEO of TriCore.
It’s tough to say what effect Conway’s visit will have. Congressman Chris Smith, a Republican who represents a portion of Mercer, including Robbinsville, announced Tuesday that he, too is a no vote. The tally in New Jersey, critical to the vote in the House this week, stands at only one in favor.