Rep. Tom Suozzi is the public face of a sustained push to repeal the $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions in Congress — and he says he's got the votes to stop a key domestic spending bill in its tracks if the repeal provision isn't included.
Suozzi has taken on the issue — known as SALT — at a key time of policy and politics intersecting. The Biden administration wants to push through the $3.5 trillion bill in a closely divided Congress where every vote will count.
And the issue could ultimately have statewide reprecussions beyond the affordability of a comparatively high-tax state like New York.
"I'm all for doing a big bold package that the president wants to do, that Democratic leadership wants to do and I want to do," Suozzi said in an interview on Thursday. "I'm all for that. But I will not support it if it doesn't have a SALT cap. It's existential for New York state. No SALT, no deal."
The Long Island Democrat has recruited lawmakers to back his call for a repeal of the limit on deductions, part of the 2017 tax overhaul that was championed by then-President Donald Trump and House Republicans. Lawmakers on the left have signaled opposition to repealing the cap, as have Republiccans.
Suozzi's pitch is the repeal of the cap is indeed progressive policy for middle-income taxpayers, especially in high tax areas around New York City.
"You lose four votes, you can't pass something," he said. "And I have enough votes that if we don't have SALT repeal in there, we will not pass this deal."
Suozzi is considered a potential candidate for governor in what's expected to be a competitive primary next year. He last ran for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006, running headlong that year into the heavily favored candidacy of Eliot Spitzer.
"It did't work out too well for me," Suozzi said. "Then again, it didn't work out too well for Eliot Spitzer."
Suozzi in that race pointed to the high property taxes in New York — marking a similar theme more than a decade later.
"I'd love to be the governor of New York state, but right now my biggest focus is getting the state and local tax deduction back," Suozzi said.
The primary season, though, could start early for Democrats. Already, incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul has signaled she plans to run for a full term next year.
"Let's give her a chance to do her job," Suozzi said. "Let's no be speculating about next year's elections. I know it's coming up quick, but let's give her a chance to do her job."
But Suozzi certainly talks like someone with a statewide focus, pointing to the outmigration of New Yorkers in the last decade and the state's reputation for high taxes.
"We're having a race to the bottom in America where people are leaving New York and moving to Florida," he said, "and taking their tax dollars with them."