SIOUX CITY — Monday was deadline day for Americans to file their federal income tax returns, and Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker used a campaign stop to unveil his proposal to considerably expand the Earned Income Tax Credit that low-income people can receive.
Booker, in his first Sioux City campaign event of the 2020 election cycle, aired details of the new policy he said dubbed the Rise Credit. He said to boost "economic justice," expanding the EITC would result in more money going to the personal budgets of Americans, so they could move away from living paycheck to paycheck.
"We should have the biggest increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit," said Booker, a U.S. senator from New Jersey.
Specifically, Booker's plan would almost double the income eligibility at which people can receive the Earned Income Tax Credit, from a maximum of just over $54,000 to $90,000 for a married couple. He also proposed increasing the maximum EITC credit amount by 25 percent — to about $8,000 per year for a married couple.
If all the EITC pieces were enacted, Booker said 154 million people would be impacted. He said it would be funded by redirecting money after ending the "preferential tax treatment" that wealthy people get in the taxation of capital gains investment income.
Booker officially kicked off his campaign Saturday with an event in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, and now is making his third swing through Iowa. Booker spoke to 125 people at the downtown Sioux City Public Museum, telling them of his Iowa roots, from a grandmother and others who live in Des Moines, plus older generations who lived in the late 1800s in the coal mining town of Buxton, Iowa.
Justice is a key word in his campaign messaging. Beyond the tax proposal, Booker also addressed the need for increases in education funding and changes in sentencing rules for those convicted of drug offenses.
He took seven questions in the 75-minute event, and attendees were concerned about climate change and gun control, in a time of mass shootings.
”I will not be another to bring thoughts and prayers. ... I will bring a fight to the NRA like they have never seen," Booker replied, a big applause line for the Democratic crowd.
Two women asked about climate change, and Booker said there is only a 12-year window before climate impacts become irreversible. Booker supports the Green New Deal proposed this year by Democrats, and said he would rejoin the international 2016 Paris Accord to reduce carbon emissions.
Linda Santi, of Sioux City, asked if lawmakers should write off trying to save the lowest-lying coastal areas impacted by rising waters. Booker answered, “There are no throwaway people, no throwaway communities.”
Booker's event also came on the deadline day for federal office seekers to report their campaign fundraising for the first three months of the year. Booker's team said he raised above $5 million through March 31, which trailed the candidate-estimated amounts of $18.2 million by Bernie Sanders, $12 million of Kamala Harris, $9.4 million of Beto O'Rourke, $7 million by Pete Buttigieg, $6 million of Elizabeth Warren, and near the level of $5.2 million raised by Amy Klobuchar.
In a Journal interview, Booker said he will have sound financial resources to compete well in Iowa.
President Donald Trump announced he raised $30.3 million for the first quarter. Trump also got a new competitor Monday, as former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld announced his plan to challenge the incumbent president in the GOP primaries in 2020.
Booker is making a two-day swing through Iowa. At 9:30 a.m. Tuesday he will hold an education roundtable at the Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School in Sergeant Bluff, and will follow with other events in Carroll, Nevada and Des Moines.
A number of Democratic candidates seeking to deny the re-election of Trump have campaigned this year in Northwest Iowa, including Warren, Gillibrand, Klobuchar, John Delaney, Andrew Yang, Eric Swalwell, John Hickenlooper, Julian Castro, Tim Ryan and O'Rourke. Gillibrand returns to the area Friday afternoon, with a campaign stop in Denison, Iowa.