Cantwell: “Republican Tax Plan Would be Paid for on the Backs of Middle Class Families”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance began its mark-up process to debate and amend the Senate Republican tax proposal. In her opening remarks, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) challenged the plan for its tax increase on middle class Washington families.
“A big chunk of this bill is being paid for on the backs of middle class families by taking away their deductions,” said Cantwell. “This isn’t simplification of our tax code, it’s simply raising taxes on middle class families in my state. And it’s raising taxes on millions of Americans across the United States to give a break to the corporations. So it’s a very different structure than we talked about.
A Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’ official tax scorekeeper, analysis found that many middle class families would face a tax hike under the Senate GOP tax bill.
Cantwell’s full remarks are below.
Senator Maria Cantwell
Opening Remarks before the Senate Finance Committee Markup on Republican Tax Bill
November 13, 2017
Senator Cantwell: Mr. Chairman, I’ll try to do my best but this is pretty important legislation. First I want to say I don’t agree with many of the president’s economic strategies. I don’t believe in his notion of fear and isolationism. I don’t believe in his notion of discussing things that are going to start trade wars. I don’t believe in his lack of support for a functioning Export-Import Bank that will help US manufacturers build products and seek homes and find their acceptance in international markets. I don’t support his notion that the FERC ought to mandate that consumers in Ohio or Pennsylvania or Kentucky pay higher electricity rates by forcing them to adhere to purchasing coal because he wants to bring coal back. And I don’t support his notions of cutting innovation and R&D in various sectors of our economy. I sure don’t think you have to apply this sort of FERC logic on coal to oil and say that the only way that Amazon or Microsoft can get a tax break is if we destroy the great wilderness of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.
So no I too had high hopes for what would be a discussion about our corporate tax rate, having many companies in my state that have to compete on an international basis. I hoped that we were going to have that discussion and when my colleagues on the other side of the aisle said it needed to be deficit-neutral, I listened. I thought ‘okay, this is interesting.’ When they said we are going to close corporate loopholes to pay for a corporate rate reduction, I listened and I thought ‘well, maybe this is where we’re going to go. We’re going to sit down in a collaborative fashion and work together.’ And Mr. Chairman, you and I do have a good working relationship, but the notion that the president had a meeting of the Finance members to come down the White House and I wasn’t invited because I represent a state that he didn’t win is a ridiculous idea.
So, the notion that where we are today and my main objection, is that instead of doing those things that we talked about on the corporate tax rate, looking at some of these things like carried interest or in-kind exchanges or the fact that golf courses get tax breaks. Instead, a big chunk of this bill is being paid for on the backs of middle class families by taking away their deductions. Their local sales tax deduction from a state like mine that doesn’t have an income tax, from their property taxes not being able to be deducted, or the mortgage deduction and I know there’s differences between the House and the Senate bill. But this isn’t simplification of our tax code, it’s simply raising taxes on middle class families in my state. And it’s raising taxes on millions of Americans across the United States to give a break to the corporations. So it’s a very different structure than we talked about.
Now, most are objecting – because Mr. Chairman you and I have worked very hard – trying to make more affordable housing. But by getting rid of these deductions on property taxes on home mortgage, the notion that you’re getting rid of private activity bonds in the House legislation and that you’re making changes to the Low Income Tax Credit in this Senate bill is just making housing more expensive at a time when we have a record number of Americans who are in unaffordable housing situations.
So I look at our challenges and I know that you or some of our colleagues talked about the credit that small business are getting. It’s so complex. It’s so challenging. I don’t know what small businesses are going to benefit from this. So Mr. Chairman I hope that we can slow down. The reason I mentioned the housing, and I will wrap up, is that housing used to be 15% of GDP. In the few hearings that we did have on this, now it’s only 12% of GDP. This bill, I know you think this notion of returning investment overseas, not a bad idea, something we could talk about. But we’re just returning it and it’s just going to the dividend pool. There’s nothing in there that says it should go to infrastructure investment. There’s nothing in there that says it should go to roads or housing or even job training. And I guarantee you: it’s not worth giving a tax break to corporations if you can’t find a qualified workforce or they have to live an hour and a half away because housing is so expensive. So Mr. Chairman, thank you for the additional minute. I think five is a very good target. And I appreciate, I hope we’ll slow down. I hope we’ll have the courage to work together in a regular order process.
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