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Tom Suozzi NY-03

SALT is back in style on the trail

Ahead of the 2025 tax bonanza, Democratic candidates in swing districts are increasingly talking taxes on the trail.

High-tax states hit hard by the 2017 Trump tax cuts’ limit on deducting state and local taxes — like California, New York and New Jersey — are playing a starring role in November’s fight for control of the House. So it’s no surprise that pols in those states are trying to position themselves as the right choice for voters itching for tax relief.

Both parties have failed to bring constituents any respite from the $10,000 SALT cap in the years since 2017. A contingent of New York Republicans most recently mounted an unsuccessful push to raise the SALT cap just slightly for married couples. And that contingent is touchy when presented with Democratic criticism.

“The party that couldn’t get it done is upset that it hasn’t yet been done?” Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) retorted. And Molinaro pivoted to attacking Democrats on the rising cost of living.

“The people that I represent know that they’re paying a lot more for a lot less, whether it’s the grocery store or their taxes,” Molinaro said.

Republican SALT allies worked hard to try to show they’ll fight their party on the issue this time. But some Democrats see an opening. They’re looking to run on SALT, a topic they found success on during the 2018 midterms.

On the trail: In Southern California, we heard from Democrats eager to highlight the cap. Will Rollins, who’s running against Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) in a toss-up seat, said the SALT issue is an effective campaign line.

“I always ask people when there’s a Republican-leaning crowd in front of me, ‘Why is it that our member of Congress from Southern California is giving tax cuts to people in Wyoming and the rest of us are stuck here holding the bag?’” Rollins recounted.

The issue set gives the left an opportunity to portray Republicans as tax increasers. This isn’t something that Democrats can normally do, we’ll note.

“SALT was a major tax increase for many, many people I represent,” state Sen. Dave Min, the Democrat running to succeed retiring Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), told us. “Meanwhile, the benefits of that tax policy went almost entirely to the wealthiest investors out there who don’t need it.”

The playbook: Many of the Democrats are following the lead of Rep. Tom Suozzi’s (D-N.Y.) February special election victory, where the New Yorker hammered home a SALT-based economic message.

Here’s what Suozzi told us about talking SALT on the trail and addressing GOP efforts:

Another Democrat who’s no stranger to running on SALT, New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill, told us she believes people in her district are well aware that the cap came from former President Donald Trump’s tax bill and Hill Republicans.

“I don’t think it’s really effective for Republican colleagues to suggest that they can defeat that when the standard-bearer for the Republican party is all in on this and we know it expires next year, which makes it even more important that Democrats get a majority if SALT is your issue,” Sherrill said.

Of course, the push on SALT hasn’t been without its stumbles for Democrats like Suozzi and Sherrill either.

The stakes: Some bipartisan SALT allies are already strategizing together to defeat the cap next year, as we scooped in Thursday’s PM edition. There’s some optimism among SALT cap opponents that they’ll have more leverage because it’s set to disappear.

But recent fights underscored that the issue is deeply regional and politically painful. Whoever wins the House in November, SALT allies will be readying to fight.

— Max Cohen and Laura Weiss

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.