Rally held in Massapequa Park against GOP tax reform

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MASSAPEQUA PARK -

Long Islanders rallied Wednesday outside the Massapequa Park office of U.S. Rep. Peter King in an effort to save state and local tax deductions critical to many homeowners.

Senate Republicans are making big changes to their tax reform plan and have added a repeal of the health care mandate to the measure. House Republicans were expected to vote on their proposed tax bill on Thursday, but a last-minute revision in the Senate version is causing controversy among some health care advocates.

GOP leaders want to repeal the Affordable Care Act mandate that everyone either has health insurance or pays a penalty. Republicans claim getting rid of the mandate will save $338 billion. But critics say the move will increase premiums and leave about 13 million people uninsured.

"We're looking once again at assaulting people's access to care and ability to meet their basic medical and mental health needs," says Rebecca Sanin, of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island. "Political game? Absolutely."

Other elements of the House and Senate tax reform are also unpopular with Long Islanders. Both bills slash taxes for corporations but end or limit some deductions popular with homeowners on the Island, like the deduction for state and local property, income and sales taxes.

Francine Suflay, of Hicksville, says that will seriously impact middle-class families like hers.

"You're only going to get certain deductions, and it's not going to be enough and we're going to suffer," she says.

Republican Reps. Lee Zeldin and Peter King have both said they oppose the House bill because of the negative impact it will have on Long Island.

"The last time they did tax reform in 1986, it took two years to get it right," King says. "We're doing this in 10 days. To me, there's just too much of a danger of unintended consequences. And there's no way that anyone can give an honest evaluation of the bill."

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