McCaskill opines on federal tax bill and net neutrality at town hall | St. Louis Public Radio

McCaskill opines on federal tax bill and net neutrality at town hall

Dec 16, 2017

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill criticized a tax plan poised for approval in Congress during a town hall in suburban St. Louis — while conceding there’s little she and her Democratic colleagues can do to stop it.

At the event Saturday morning at St. Louis Community College’s Meramec campus, McCaskill, D-Mo., answered questions for about an hour, mostly on the tax bill, net neutrality and the future of Robert Mueller’s investigation of President Donald Trump’s campaign.

A final version of the tax cut package was released Friday night and will likely be voted on next week. McCaskill said she hadn’t had a chance to read the entire thousand-plus page bill yet, but added that she was not happy with the main points.

“I could give you a huge long list — a list longer than Santa’s list — of what’s wrong with this bill,” she said.

That legislation is likely to pass out of Congress after enough Senate Republicans came out in support of it. “I don’t think there is any hope” of Democrats blocking the tax overhaul, McCaskill said, adding she found it “frustrating” the bill favors corporations more than individuals and families.

“This isn’t Trump’s bill,” she said. “Trump campaigned on the bill being about you.”

Dennis Hugo, a 32-year-old Warrenton resident, came to hear the senator’s argument against the tax plan.

“I’m having a hard time finding a way that it does not benefit the people of Missouri,” said Hugo, a self-described Libertarian, before the event started.

This was McCaskill’s 50th town hall in 2017. “I gotta admit, I like this,” she said of the supportive crowd, compared to more conservative counties she’s visited.

Net neutrality blowback

The crowd also pressed McCaskill on how the FCC repealed 2015 “net neutrality” regulations that, among other things, barrs internet providers from controlling internet speeds.

People listen to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill during a town hall event Saturday at St. Louis Community College's Meramec campus.
Credit Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

McCaskill defended her vote to support Ajit Pai to the Federal Communications Commission, saying she backed him when former President Barack Obama did. She said she felt she had to support Pai again when President Donald Trump renominated him.

McCaskill opposed the net neutrality repeal, saying she won’t “let us get squeezed out of the internet by the big guys.” She said she’d support a law in Congress to restore net neutrality.

The second-term senator was also asked more than once about former FBI director Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s influence in the 2016 election.

“There will be a huge outcry if Mueller is fired,” McCaskill said about speculation Trump is trying to end the probe.

McCaskill is the ranking Democrat on the homeland security committee. She expressed some optimism about protecting younger undocumented immigrants, often called “Dreamers,” as a bargaining chip with Republicans trying to pass a spending plan in the coming weeks.

The community college campus is in McCaskill’s home town of Kirkwood. The seven-minute drive from her house allowed time to bake some Christmas cookies before arriving. She then introduced her two grandsons in attendance.

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