Fighting Back: “Democrats are calling on Republicans to drop this wrong-headed bill and work with us on real tax reform.”

The weekly Fighting Back post is also an Open News Thread.

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Congressman Mike Thompson of California.

(Rep. Mike Thompson emphasizes the cruel, devastating consequences of the Republican tax bill for America’s hard-working, middle class families.)
Congressman Thompson:

“Democrats believe that our country needs real tax reform, but this is not tax reform. What the Republicans’ bill does is shift important tax benefits from middle class and working families to the rich and to corporate interests. That’s wildly irresponsible.[…]

“The American people deserve a fair tax code that leads to better jobs, better wages, and a better future that gives everyone a chance to realize the American dream. That means putting hard-working, middle-class families ahead of the richest among us, and building a tax code that allows small businesses and innovators to thrive.

“Democrats are calling on Republicans to drop this wrong-headed bill and work with us on real tax reform. With something this big, it cannot and should not be jammed through Congress by one party alone.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

(Link to Nancy Pelosi Newsroom here)

Transcript: Congressman Mike Thompson Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

“I’m Congressman Mike Thompson. I represent California’s 5th Congressional District, and I’m a Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, the tax-writing committee.

“This week, Republicans continued to push their tax bill that would devastate middle class and working Americans, and explode our national debt. This bill was written without the benefit of any hearings, any testimony from expert witnesses or any input from Democrats.

“The bill is written to give massive, permanent tax breaks to the rich and to corporate interests, many of which ship U.S. jobs overseas. It does give a handful of temporary tax cuts to some middle class taxpayers, but actually raises taxes on millions of middle and working class families.

“An overwhelming majority of these tax breaks go to the top 1 percent of the richest Americans.

“The Republicans take away important tax provisions that so many middle class families rely on to make ends meet. And it’s not just middle class families that will be hurt by the repeal of these provisions. Seniors, disabled Americans and veterans all count on various tax provisions that are now on the chopping block, effectively raising their taxes.

“As a Vietnam veteran and supporter of our veterans, I find any legislation that would hurt our country’s heroes to be particularly disgraceful. Our first responders also get a raw deal under this plan.

“Republicans want to roll back the State and Local Tax Deduction – an important provision that funds vital, local government services like police and fire. It’s shameful that they want to dismantle this deduction that will hurt law enforcement and firefighters so they can give tax breaks to folks who really don’t need them.

“The Republicans’ bill also undermines the Affordable Care Act, taking health care away from 13 million Americans and raising premiums by 10 percent for everyone else. And the Republican plan adds a shocking $2.3 trillion to our already sky-high national debt, just to pay for these tax breaks for corporations and the very richest Americans. That means our kids and grandkids will be left to pay the bill.

“To add insult to injury, the Republican leadership has stated they will cut Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits and other critical government services because the debt is too high. That’s just wrong.

“Democrats believe that our country needs real tax reform, but this is not tax reform. What the Republicans’ bill does is shift important tax benefits from middle class and working families to the rich and to corporate interests. That’s wildly irresponsible.

“Democrats have been working from an agenda that’s focused on strengthening and expanding the middle class. We call it ‘A Better Deal.’ As part of that Better Deal, we believe that meaningful tax reform must begin and end with middle class families, it shouldn’t be built on their backs.

“The American people deserve a fair tax code that leads to better jobs, better wages, and a better future that gives everyone a chance to realize the American dream. That means putting hard-working, middle-class families ahead of the richest among us, and building a tax code that allows small businesses and innovators to thrive.

“Democrats are calling on Republicans to drop this wrong-headed bill and work with us on real tax reform. With something this big, it cannot and should not be jammed through Congress by one party alone.

“Thank you.”

Any bolding has been added.

~

Leader Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference on Thursday:

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Leader Pelosi. Good morning. Thank you for being early. We are adjusting to the schedule on the Floor where the last comments are being made before we go to vote. So thank you again for accommodating the Floor schedule.

Sadly, as you know, today marks the five year anniversary, five years since twenty beautiful children and their six extraordinary teachers were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our hearts are shattered. Our resolve only grows stronger five years later.

In their name, in the name of the 90 Americans who lose their lives to gun violence every day and the 120,000 Americans who have been killed by guns since Newtown, we will never stop fighting for commonsense gun violence prevention.

As we saw with last week’s concealed carry bill, House Republicans want to make this awful problem even worse. How could it be, when people were converging on Washington and really around the country, coming together to observe the five year anniversary, it was observed here by putting forth – with stiff competition, mind you – one of the worst gun bills that they could put forth.

We had for a couple hours on Saturday in church an interfaith service observing the five year anniversary and the stories of the families and collateral damage that happens not only in losing your loved one, but how sad it is for families across our country. They deserve better. We won’t stop until we succeed. We’re in it to win it. Everything that you can say, we are not going away until that job gets done.

And by the way, what we’re talking about in the gun violence prevention legislation, which is bipartisan, the King-Thompson bill, is to expand the background checks to gun shows and internet sales. So most gun owners support that, but on the Floor of the House the wholly owned subsidiary, the Republican Party, of the gun industry, we can’t even take a vote on it. Instead, we’re voting on concealed carry.

Again, in other bad news for the American people this week, the House and Senate Republicans met in secret to come up with a final GOP tax scam. Republicans have two bills, one worse than the other, that both raise taxes on tens of millions of middle class families while they are dishonestly telling people it is a tax break for the middle class.

And instead of helping middle class Americans, they decided their top priority was to slash, imagine, slash taxes for the wealthy 1 percent even further. In fact, it’s not even the 1 percent, it’s the 0.3 percent, smaller.

By slashing the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans from 39.6 to 37 percent, Republicans appear to be handing an extra $150 to $200 billion tax cut to the top 0.3 percent of households in America.

What? It’s daylight robbery. And with every iteration, the GOP tax scam becomes even more cowardly, outrageous, dishonest, brazen-theft from middle class families, giving money from them to the richest people in our country and to corporations. It’s a monumental con job.

They’re not getting away with it. As you see, the American people are paying attention. They know and they, by 2-to-1, are coming out against it. But nonetheless that doesn’t stop the Republicans from doing what is in their DNA, tax cuts for the rich. That is their purpose.

When the Washington Post asked Edward Kleinbard, former chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation, if the tax package in aggregate would mean middle income tax cuts, he said, ‘That’s delusional or dishonest to say. It’s factually untrue… The only group you can point to that wins year after year and wins in very large magnitude is the very highest incomes.’ In the highest income.

Mark Zandi, chief economist from Moody’s Analytics, said yesterday – maybe some of you saw our hearing of the House Democrats. We have asked for hearing after hearing, getting none. The House Democrats had another hearing yesterday. Mark Zandi was there and he made these points.

The tax bill before us does not increase economic growth. It adds to the debt enormously, deepens wealth inequality in our country, and does not simplify the tax code. So what is the purpose?

Let us come together in a bipartisan way, as has been done before, to get the job done. This has trillions of dollars of impact on our economy, this bill, trillions of dollars of impact, done without a hearing, without hearing from the experts who can say what the ramifications are of what they are doing.

No, they just did it in the back room and probably with their lobbyist friends because that is where most of the information you get and what we get, is from lobbyists.

But as we saw in Alabama and we saw in Virginia before that, suburban Republicans are in trouble, very serious trouble. If Republicans think they have a problem now, wait until they raise taxes on millions of middle class families and hand a tax break to corporations to ship jobs overseas. It’s really stunning what they are doing.

Instead of doing that, we should be working on a bill, our end of the year bill, to address a list of urgent, overdue and bipartisan – all the things we’re talking about here are bipartisan priorities for the American people: Funding for the opioid epidemic. Increase funding for our veterans. CHIP program and community health centers. Passing the DREAM Act. Emergency disaster funding. Saving endangered pensions, very important in our country.

And instead what are we doing? They’re just totally obsessed with what their DNA requires; tax cuts for the rich. That’s what their unifying theme is. That’s why the Republicans, unfortunately – that belief is now tied to some very destructive, deficit-increasing, job-killing, middle income-robbing pieces provisions in the tax bill.

One of the things that I wanted to bring up, too, because as we gather here right now is at the Federal Communications Commission, they are considering a resolution that will be very harmful to net neutrality. I have written a letter to the Chairman [Ajit Pai], concerned, because they, too, have resisted hearings in what they are doing.

And this is, it’s a situation that is – let me just read it to you in the interest of time. I say in there: I am disappointed that your office has ignored my invitation, but many other invitations for hearings to voice concerns about identity theft and the fake comments, fake comments in the agency’s record regarding net neutrality. Further, your office has consistently downplayed the New York Attorney General’s investigation into this matter and ignored the alarming prospect that your agency’s review, your agency’s process may be fraudulent.

Hundreds of people are gathered now at the FCC to register their complaint. You ask any Member, their offices are being bombarded.

Young people know what this means. This is about democracy on the Internet. This is about good jobs for the future. And this should not be done.

Even the technology officer, one of the people that the Senate has appointed, has said there might be some flaws in how they are going forward.

So let us hope that well, I don’t know if you remember, but when this happened before, when we were trying to interpret the law in a way that was favorable to democracy on the Internet, the response from young people positively supporting that was overwhelming.

But as you know, supporting something is one wonderful thing. When you try to take it away, it is an explosion of such magnitude. Well, the FCC will see that.

But this is very important to our economy if we want to have good-paying jobs for the 21st century. I don’t know what they’re thinking.

The only people advantaged of this are the platforms, the top communications companies. All of the entrepreneurial new companies coming up, all the young people who communicate and try to build relationships that will produce jobs on the internet are at a disadvantage. Pay attention to this, okay?

Now, we have this CRomnibus that they’re talking about. Some people are calling it the ‘punt’-ibus, just punt this down the road. I call it the ‘none’-tibus because it’s not going anywhere. They’re saying that they’re going to put together a full-year appropriation for the Pentagon and the rest of the continuing resolution would just be the domestic budget as we go forward.

Don’t they know that that – I mean, [Leader] Chuck Schumer and 44 Democrats sent a letter to them this week saying that is not going to fly in the Senate. That is why I say it is the ‘none’-tibus. It’s not going to fly. We can’t support that.

As I said to you last week, a third of the domestic budget which will suffer from such a proposal is the State Department, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, anti-terrorism initiatives from the Justice Department. So a third of the budget is the national security function, even though it isn’t strictly defined as defense. So they’re weakening our protections of the American people by going forward in this way.

And, of course, we measure the strength of our country in other ways, as well: the education of our people, the health and well-being of the American people. Even the nutrition of the American people is important to a good workforce. Some of you have heard the veterans in the last couple of days talking about how they would be harmed in the tax bill. Well, they’re harmed in this bill, as well.

So they control, the House, the Senate, and the Administration. They need a serious plan for year-end. And we look forward to working with them in a bipartisan way. But what they are doing right now won’t fly.

Any questions?

Press questioning followed (see transcript)

~

From the questioning, more on the CRomnibus and CHIP reauthorization:

[Their plan is] a terrible version of SCHIP. It makes children pay for their own health insurance. ‘You want to have health insurance, Children’s Health Insurance Program, let’s take it out of children’s inoculations, let’s take it out of prevention programs for children’s health.’ […]

We’re willing to find offsets, but not from children’s health, children’s health paying for children’s health.

~

On the tax bill and political advantages:

We don’t have the votes to take it down unless some of the Republicans see the light.[…]

But this is who they are, this is what they came here to do: Tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the middle class, at the expense of the health and well-being of the American people, robbing from the future by increasing the debt, ransacking the finances of middle class people by increasing their taxes and rewarding corporate America and the wealthy.

So I think they’re in a lose-lose situation. If they don’t pass the bill, they lose because you know what they have said about their donors are not going to answer their calls anymore if they don’t pass the bill, so they lose in that regard. If they do pass the bill, they will lose in the court of public opinion and we have to hold them accountable.

I, myself, would like us to defeat the bill rather than have the political advantage it gives us because this is very harmful to the American people and we have to stop it.

~

  2 comments for “Fighting Back: “Democrats are calling on Republicans to drop this wrong-headed bill and work with us on real tax reform.”

  1. JanF
    December 16, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Nancy Pelosi on the Republican tax bill’s conference report:

    San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement after Republicans unveiled the conference report of the GOP tax scam:

    “With each version, the GOP tax scam becomes an even more cowardly, outrageous, and brazen theft from middle class families to corporations and the wealthiest one percent.

    “Slashing the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans even deeper is Republicans’ final insult to hard-working Americans in this deficit-exploding scam of a bill. Republicans went into conference with two bills that raise taxes on tens of millions of middle class families. But instead of actually helping middle class Americans, the GOP throws them a few meager crumbs while slashing taxes for millionaires even deeper.

    “The GOP tax scam’s theft from middle class families to give to the wealthiest is a moral obscenity. The American people see it for exactly the con job it is. And the American people will hold Republicans accountable for the votes they cast next week.”

  2. JanF
    December 16, 2017 at 10:08 am

    An analysis of the final conference report via NPR:

    The new bill looks a lot like earlier versions from the House and Senate, with minor modifications — for example, it lowers the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, as opposed to the 20 percent in both the House and Senate bills. In other cases, it finds the middle ground between the two chambers’ previous bills — it limits taxpayers to deducting the interest on new mortgages up to $750,000, as opposed to $500,000 in the House bill and $1 million in the Senate bill, which is also the amount set under current law.

    New from the Senate:

    Proposed: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

    The individual mandate penalty would be reduced to zero. This would mean some people would choose not to purchase insurance and that others would not be able to afford it.

    Analysis shows that 13 million people, many of whom wanted coverage, will lose it.

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