The weekly Fighting Back post is also a News Open Thread.
The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.
(Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) on tax cuts – note: clip does not complete)
In what has become an increasingly shameful and highly partisan process, Republicans have chosen to go it alone and cut Democrats out of any tax reform discussions. They formulated a tax scheme that they admit will add $1.5 trillion to our deficit, putting Medicare and Medicaid at risk. And the plan hurts middle and low income working families while providing huge tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. […]
Under the Republican plan, a family of four would gain an extra $12,000 in standard deduction. They simultaneously lose more than $16,000 in personal exemptions. It would directly affect middle income families and [make] it more difficult to save for retirement. And they are planning to repeal the state and local tax deduction used by taxpayers in all 50 states. This allows you to write off property taxes, local income taxes, and sales taxes and ensures the federal government can’t double tax families on money they have already paid in taxes to the state.
(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)
(Link to Nancy Pelosi Newsroom here)
Transcript from CSPAN link – as is:
Hi. I would like to take a few moments to talk to you about a topic that affect everyone in our country, taxes. No one likes to pay taxes, but we pay them to cover the costs of important things like building roads and schools and recovery after devastating tragedies like hurricanes, floods, and drought. Our taxes support law enforcement. They fund life-saving research at places like the national institutes of health and protect our national parks across the country. Democrats and republicans often disagree about what government should and should not pay for, but we agree that our tax system has gotten too complicated and is not working for our constituents. We need a change. That is why this summer i wrote to my republican colleagues, along with the overwhelming majority of Democratic senators, with three core principles for tax reform to guide future debates. We said that tax breaks should focus on the middle class and not the top 1%. We said tax reform should not blow a hole in the deficit in the way that endangers programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. And we said, let’s do this together in a real bipartisan way. Unfortunately, and what has become an increasingly shameful and highly partisan process, republicans have chosen to go it alone and cut democrats out of any tax reform discussions. They formulated a tax scheme that they admit will add one point $5 trillion — $1.5 trillion to our deficit, putting Medicare and Medicaid at risk. And the plan hurts middle and low income working families while providing huge tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Republicans talk a good game about protecting the middle class and bipartisanship. Just this week president tRump said will cut taxes for hard-working middle-class families. Speaker Ryan has said the entire purpose of this is to lower middle-class taxes. They say they want to help the middle class, but that is not what their plan does. Right out of the gate, republicans want to make those with less pay more by increasing the lowest tax bracket 10% to 12%. In the same plan, they decrease the tax rates for America’s highest earners from 39.6% to 35%. While republicans are proposing to increase the standard deduction, they are eliminating the personal independent — personal and dependent exemption. These give thousands of dollars of tax relief to families and caregivers across the country. Under the republican plan, a family of four would gain an extra $12,000 in standard deduction. They simultaneously lose more than $16,000 in personal independent — personal independent exemptions. It would directly affect middle income families, plus the individuals paying taxes up front, and making them more difficult to save for retirement. And they are planning to repeal the state and local tax deduction used by taxpayers in all 50 states. This allows you to write off property taxes, local income taxes, and sales taxes. It ensures the federal government can’t double tax families on money they have already paid in taxes to the state. Republican plan lowers the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, despite mountains of evidence that cutting taxes for corporations benefit shareholders. They pat themselves on the back for this and say they are mostly getting a tax cut to workers. This isn’t honest. Tax reform must not increase the taxes on the middle class.
Any bolding has been added.
Leader Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference on Thursday:
Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference
Leader Pelosi. Good morning. Good morning, everyone. What an eventful morning it has been, really one that marks a transformative moment for our country.
This morning, when the Republicans voted to advance the budget that they put forth, they drew a line in the sand between the middle class and working families and the very wealthy and corporate America in our country. It’s really unfortunate, but it is at least an opportunity for the American people to understand more clearly what the debate is here in Washington, D.C.
On one side of that line in the sand, we have the Republicans in Congress who are in their DNA committed to a mission of giving tax breaks to the wealthiest people in our country. In fact, the budget they put forth, in that budget, 80 percent of the tax cuts will go to the top 1 percent.
Sadly, it also is another way that it is an assault on the middle class is an assault on State and Local Tax [SALT] deductions. And I bring this up because it affects everyone. If you live in the District of Columbia, for example, and you own a home, you will be negatively impacted. The District of Columbia, 137,000, more than 137,000 people are and I bring this up because I assume you live here. Or if you live in Maryland, 1,354,000 people. Or if you live in Virginia, same thing, a million and a half people are affected.
In the District of Columbia, the average SALT deduction is $16,000. You will no longer have that deduction. If you live in Virginia, the average deduction is over $11,000. And if you live in Maryland, the average deduction is $12,000. So you will lose that deduction under this plan.
Not only that, it has been reported by the realtors that the value of your home would be – you would lose 10 percent of the value of your home. And you can thank the Republicans in Congress for that because, as they misrepresent what they are doing to the middle class, what they are doing is looting them, looting your homes. Just, it’s just a rip off of the middle class. But you know why? Because there’s so many people in the middle class, if you take some of their money and multiply it by a lot of people, you can give a big tax cut to the high end, increasing, exacerbating, the disparity in equity opportunity in our country, and not only that, at the same time, you’re increasing the national debt.
And I say that this morning was transformative because the amount of money, the trillions of dollars that they increase the debt, is very hard to come back from. We, under President Obama, came back; under President Clinton, came back from the deficits that existed when he took office. His last budgets were either in balance or in surplus.
When President Bush left office, the deficit was at $1.4 trillion. So you’re talking about an enormous amount of money, that the national debt had increased by an enormous amount. The debt was – $1.4 [trillion] in terms of the deficit, as opposed to the debt, which increased by trillions of dollars. So then we go to President Obama, who again reverses that. And now we come to President Trump.
So, again, here we are – the budget. As I said the other day – and you saw the pie chart – 80 percent of the advantage goes to the top 1 percent. Who pays? The middle class. The fact that they’re saying there is a middle class tax cut is not true. It’s wrong. And when they come forth with their tax bill, we will see it more clearly.
But what the Republicans did today was to give an open path to this assault – an assault. It’s a rip off, a shakedown, a looting of the middle class. And that has a difference in our country.
Toynbee, Arnold Toynbee, wrote about histories of civilizations. You know that. And in one of his presentations, he talked about societies and governments that were there for creative with creative leadership, where people could thrive and succeed, versus exploitive, exploitive situations, where they were there for the rich and the powerful. That’s not a good thing for a country. And that’s the path that these Republicans are taking us down.
So, very calmly, we say to them: ‘We want to do tax reform. We want to do it in a way that is fair, that has fairness, that has simplification, that has growth that reduces the deficit, creates good paying jobs, and keeps America number one.’
Instead, we have a budget that they put forth that does not do that. But they misrepresent that it is good for the middle class, which it is not.
So, hopefully, when this tax bill comes up, the public will be aware of what to look for in it, know how they pay the price for this big transfer of wealth, where the wealth is sucked up from the middle class to high income, the 1 percent, as well as wealthy corporations in our country.
It’s stunning. It’s really startling. And so, you know, it’s a con. It’s a massive con. And we’re going to make sure that, if they engage in this, the American people know how it affects them. This isn’t about politics. This is about the American people and how policy here affects them.
Instead, let’s go to the table to create growth, create good paying jobs, to reduce the deficit, to keep America number one, and to reduce taxes on the middle class. That’s probably about all I’ll have to say, unless you have some questions.
Our Californians, what they’ve done to California – I’m so proud of our Governor [Jerry Brown]. He wrote individually to each of the Members to say how bad this would be. And you know what? I love the fact that, in his letter, he said: ‘Not only do you take away the deduction from individual filers, but you keep it for corporations.’
In this bill, you’re an individual filer, you have a home any of you have homes that you take a deduction, State and local taxes? You lose that. If you’re a corporation, you keep it. Two sides. Whose side are they on?
But, again, it’s a moment of definition. It’s a moment of definition. And we will not allow them to misrepresent the facts on this tax bill to the American people.
Heartbreaking, because we could have come together to do something in a bipartisan way that would be sustainable. You can’t do tax reform without bipartisanship and sustainability if you’re going to give certainty to the business community so they can act upon and individuals so they can act upon their personal as well as professional and business decisions.
With that, I’m pleased to take any questions.
Press questioning followed (see transcript)
More on SALT:
Eliminating the State and Local Tax Deduction? That’s Not a Middle-class Tax Cut
(The state and local tax deduction is critical to middle class, especially in New York and New Jersey. The GOP wants to gut it to give the wealthy a huge tax cut.)
Earlier today, every single California House Republican voted for a devastating budget that lays the groundwork to raise taxes on hard-working middle class families in their own districts by eliminating the State & Local Tax deduction.
The Ryan-McConnell tax agenda would eliminate the key deduction for state and local taxes, claimed by more than 6.1 million hard-working households in California, worth an average of more than $18,000.
[table included in link]
As House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his Republicans colleagues head home for the weekend, they must face the facts: the dangerous GOP budget they voted for paves the way for a tax and budget agenda that –
– Raises taxes on the middle class
– Borrows trillions from the future to give tax cuts to the wealthiest
– Ransacks Medicare & Medicaid
The Ryan-McConnell tax plan is a bad deal for the American people. Americans deserve tax reform that puts the middle class first, not more deficit-exploding tax cuts for billionaires. Democrats will continue to fight for real tax reform with not one penny in tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent.
Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor on the House of Representatives to express her opposition to the Republicans’ job-killing, seniors-betraying budget which paves the way for the GOP billionaires-first tax plan. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Leader Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman from Kentucky [Congressman Yarmuth] for yielding. I particularly want to recognize his extraordinary leadership as the Ranking Member of the Budget Committee. As we all know, the budget should be a statement of our national values. What is important to us as a nation should be reflected in how we allocate our resources.
Again, a statement of values – who better to manage all of that in this Congress of the United States than Mr. Yarmuth, who brings his values, his heartland priorities to the budget process and I thank him for the leadership he has provided. Sadly, though, I rise in opposition to what the Republicans have proposed: a devastating Republican budget – the first step in the GOP’s dangerous plan to fast-track their immoral tax framework to hand trillions of dollars to the wealthy while increasing taxes on working American families.
The Republican budget and tax plan cruelly rigs an unfair system even further against hard-working Americans. It cuts a raw deal for families in every corner of our country. Democrats have a Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Pay, Better Future.
But right here, before our eyes, in this House, Republicans are replacing the great ladders of American opportunity with the silver spoons of plutocracy and aristocracy. Their agenda raises taxes on the middle class – that is the fact. Tens of millions of middle class families will pay higher taxes including a heavier burden for state and local taxes.
On that subject of SALT, it might be interesting to our distinguished colleague Mr. Scalise – and isn’t it a joy to see him in the debate on the floor? In his state of Louisiana, 48,000 people will lose nearly $7,000 – an average of nearly $7,000 more by losing their deduction. And Congresswoman Black from the great state of Tennessee, 573,960 people will lose their deduction – the filers will lose their deduction, around $5,600 a filer.
Not only that – if that isn’t bad enough for assaulting the dream of home ownership in our country by attacking the deduction. This plan that the Republicans propose has been estimated to reduce the value of people’s homes by 10 percent. You not only are paying more money in order to give a tax break to the wealthy and to big corporations, you are reducing the value of your home, and by the way, your neighbors’ homes as well. So with all of the unfairness in it, the one that is most understandable to people directly is how it affects them, and in that case, 44 million Americans will pay more because of what the Republicans have in their plan.
So it raises taxes on the middle class, particularly with the assault of the SALT, State and Local Tax deduction removed. And by the way, another by the way, if you’re a corporation, your reduction is not removed, just if you are an individual filer. So again, an advantage to corporate America at the expense of America’s working families.
Next, it borrows trillions from the future to give tax cuts to the wealthiest. 80 percent of the tax cuts in this Republican proposal go to the wealthiest 1 percent. 80 percent go to the wealthiest 1 percent at the expense of America’s working families and children.
The budget on the Floor today reveals the true cruelty behind the Republicans’ tax plan. What words will be best to use for it? It’s looting the middle class, massive looting of the middle class. Rip off of the middle class – you know what, there are many middle-class people. So you take some money from all those middle-class people and those who aspire to it so you can give lot of money to the few.
Big sucking up of assets from the middle class to the wealthy, that’s what they’re here for. It’s in their DNA, trickle-down economics, it’s in their DNA. That’s what the Republicans come here to do, and that causes a deep, deep addition to the national debt.
They’re supposed to be deficit hawks, but I think they’ve become an endangered species because they don’t seem to care that this, with the cuts that they’re making, the tax breaks they’re giving to corporate and wealthy America, will cause over $2 trillion – not counting service on the national debt which would take it closer to $3 trillion. That’s a very hard road to come back from.
And as our distinguished Ranking Member [John Yarmuth] has pointed out, the opportunity cost in the budget, whether it’s a trillion dollars from Medicaid, half a trillion dollars from Medicare, funds taken from education, the seed corn of America’s preeminence in the world – why? To give a tax cut to the high-end, and they’ll say, ‘oh, the growth will come from this, will pay for that.’ Never has. Never has.
Don’t take it from me. Bruce Bartlett, who was one of the orchestrators of the supply-side economics said, ‘We never said it paid for itself.’ To anyone that ever says it does, it’s not true, it’s nonsense. He went further to call it B.S. As I said, it ransacks Medicare and Medicaid, adding trillions to the debt and tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest.
Looting the middle class. Shaking down the middle class. Ripping off the middle class. Increasing the taxes of the middle class. So it devastates vital investments, as our distinguished Ranking Member said, good paying jobs, higher wages for working families, education of our children, the health of our working families.
It really is a good example of when they say Medicare should ‘wither on the vine’ in keeping with their trickle-down economics, Medicare should wither on the vine, because they will take half a trillion dollars from Medicare in their budget that will follow. So Republicans will harm veterans, rural America, seniors and children, again, all in the name of fast-tracking trillion dollar tax breaks for the wealthiest 1 percent. 80 percent! What more do you need to know? 80 percent goes to the wealthiest 1 percent. Again and again on the Floor, the Republicans have tried to tilt the playing field against hardworking families.
This is really quite remarkable though. This is a great transformative moment for America where we can reject this assault on the middle class, this addition to the national debt, and instead say, let’s go to the table and work in a bipartisan way to truly reform our tax code so that we can be competitive in the world, so that families can thrive, that they can have the deductions that are fair for them and need it, and not taken away from them, but not taken away from corporate America. So we stand ready to go in a bipartisan way to work to do this.
Any tax cuts, this is tax cuts for the rich. This is not tax reform. This is not tax reform. Any tax cut and any agenda like that has to be bipartisan in order for it to be sustainable. So let’s come to our senses here. Common sense says – well, mathematics says – if you take a lot of money from many people to give it to a few, you are exacerbating the disparity of opportunity, equity, income in our country. This is a wrong thing to do. It’s not what our values are about. It’s really a shame that they would they would even bring such a document to the floor.
Anybody who lives in a district where their deductions, the tax deductions, for state and local taxes are taken away from individual filers, but not for corporations, as the bill determines, to the tune – I can read you all the statistics across the country about how devastating this is. As our own governor said, how could they do that to our state or any state without the Department of Finance of our states saying, wait a minute, understand what this does to the economy of our state. Understand what this does to our individual filers in our state. Who said that this document that came over in the Senate should have such a devastating impact on states? Members are coming to the floor and endorsing it. Some say, oh, I’m just voting for the budget. But it isn’t really, no. You are putting your name next to taking deduction of homeownership, of state and local taxes away from your constituents.
They’re going to know that. I would rather you reject this. We don’t want a political argument. We want to protect the American people. That’s why I hope everyone here would come down in favor of the middle class and reject this assault, this rip-off, this shakedown of the middle class that the Republicans have on the floor, and I yield back the balance of my time.