WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump took aim at his home state in a pair of Monday tweets, accusing lawmakers of not putting up a fight to remove the SALT deduction cap included under his 2017 tax overhaul, despite multiple bipartisan efforts to eliminate the cap on the popular tax exemption.
The president kicked off a pair of morning tweets by accusing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state Attorney General Letitia James of “illegally” launching an investigation into the National Rifle Association last week, and segued into a claim that New York lawmakers did not "put up a fight" against the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions that was enacted in 2017 under a Trump-backed tax plan passed by the then-majority Republican Congress.
“People are fleeing New York State because of high taxes and yes, even oppression of sorts," Trump tweeted. "They didn’t even put up a fight against SALT — could have won. So much litigation. The NRA should leave and fight from the outside of this very difficult to deal with (unfair) State!”
It’s unclear from the president’s tweets whom he faulted for not putting up a fight, but Democrats and Republicans alike rejected the claim.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have repeatedly called on Trump and Congress to eliminate the cap, including two of Trump’s key supporters in the New York congressional delegation, Reps. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley). King, Zeldin and Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Nita Lowey (D-White Plains) have all sponsored legislation to reinstate the full SALT deduction.
King, in a phone interview, said Trump was "absolutely wrong" and "rewriting history," noting that he and Zeldin tried to persuade Trump and several White House officials against pursuing the cap.
King said if Trump wanted to, he could persuade the Republican-controlled Senate to repeal the cap.
"He's the president," King said. "He's from New York, but he did more to hurt New York than what's ever been done before. That's the reality and he's trying to pass the buck to us."
Zeldin said Trump's claim on SALT was "infuriating, frustrating and wrong," but he also sided with Trump's assessment on New Yorkers fleeing the state because of high taxes.
"The change that was made to the SALT deduction was horribly flawed policy that put the screws to states like New York in order to pay for deeper tax cuts elsewhere," Zeldin said. "If the President is paying more attention to the issue right now, then he should help fix it, which I would enthusiastically welcome."
Cuomo, in July, announced the state had filed a federal lawsuit, alongside New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland, seeking to have the SALT cap tossed.
Speaking to reporters after an unrelated event Monday in Wantagh, Cuomo said Trump "is running from his own policy."
“If New York could have stopped it, why did you start it?" Cuomo said. "It was your policy. It is your budget. You took credit for it. Why are you, number one, now abandoning your policy, which is only in the world of Donald Trump? And second, if you knew it was bad for New York, why did you do it?"
Trump, in a February interview at the White House with Newsday and other regional newspaper outlets, said he was “open to talking about” changes to the cap, but ultimately said any changes “would have to be started by Dems in the House.”
Cuomo and James, on Monday, also pushed back on Trump's claim on Twitter that the NRA was "under siege" by the attorney general's probe, launched last week, into the group's tax-exempt status.
Cuomo, in a statement, condemned Trump's leadership on the issue of gun violence, saying the president has "done nothing" to address the nation's increasing number of mass shootings and gun-related deaths.
James's office, in a statement, said the attorney general "is focused on enforcing the rule of law. In any case we pursue, we will follow the facts wherever they may lead. We wish the President would share our respect for the law.”
With Robert Brodsky