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Trump hears Cuomo's tax pitch, but little headway is reported

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is seen Monday in

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is seen Monday in Albany. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

ALBANY — President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to give a lukewarm reception to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s views about the impact of the new federal tax code on some New York taxpayers.

Instead of reopening the federal tax debate, Cuomo should slash state taxes, Trump said at the meeting, according to the White House. For his part, Cuomo, a Democrat, said the Republican president was “open” to tax-law changes, but didn’t indicate that any progress was made toward modifications.

The meeting occurred one week after Cuomo acknowledged New York is facing a $2.8 billion revenue shortfall that he blames on Trump’s tax plan. The governor contends the new, $10,000 cap on annual state and local tax deductions – referred to as “SALT” deductions -- is hurting some New Yorkers.

Afterward, the White House issued a statement. “President Trump talked about the positive impacts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the American economy, and the president listened to the governor’s concerns regarding SALT,” Deputy White House Press Secretary Judd Deere said.

“The president reiterated the negative impact that high taxes in states like New York have on hardworking families and job creators. The president discussed economic growth opportunities for the state of New York, including helping lower energy prices throughout the entire Northeast by allowing low-cost, American energy to thrive with fracking and pipeline systems,” Deere continued. “The two also discussed the need to update America’s outdated infrastructure system.”

Cuomo, speaking later to WCBS 880 radio, gave a slightly more upbeat view of the meeting.

“The president previously said he was open to a change. He suggested he was open to a change here also, because he understands you hurt New York, you hurt California, you are hurting the economic engines of the nation,” Cuomo said.

He said that White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow was in attendance and agreed to “sit down and go through the issues,” and that Trump would look at a “reform” package.

Separately, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who heads the powerful Senate Finance Committee, told Newsday through a spokesman that he had no plans to revisit the "SALT" cap because getting rid of it would "primarily benefit the wealthy."

Cuomo said he also raised the issue of stalled funding for the Gateway Tunnel project, which would create an additional set of railway tunnels connecting New York and New Jersey.

"Can't we get past the politics to agree on basic infrastructure needs?" Cuomo asked, later adding: "I haven't gotten a 'yes' on Gateway."

In the final line of the White House statement, the Trump administration raised the issue of a state abortion rights law Cuomo signed last month. While supporters say it codified the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision into New York law, it did expand abortion rights from those previously guaranteed by state statute.

“And, the president raised his concerns to Governor Cuomo about Democrats’ support of late term abortions,” Deere said.

Asked by WCBS about it, Cuomo said: “He met with a Democratic governor so they felt constrained to reiterate his divisions with the Democrats."

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