Neal Opening Statement at Hearing on the 2017 Tax Law and Who It Left Behind
Mar 27, 2019
(As prepared for delivery)
Good morning, and welcome to our witnesses and audience members. Thank you everyone for being here today.
Today, the Committee begins its long overdue examination of the 2017 tax law that Republicans passed in a mere 51 days, without any hearings or expert witness testimony.
More than a year after the passage of a 2.3 trillion-dollar tax giveaway, this will be the first time we will have a thorough review of the new law and its impact on American families and the economy.
So today we begin with some big picture questions about fairness and who the Republican tax law left behind. We already know it does not treat all taxpayers alike. Instead, the law’s proponents made choices about what (and whom) to prioritize, and what (and whom) to leave out. They chose to increase the deficit by 1.5 trillion dollars – which turned out to be 2.3 trillion dollars – and they decided that the most urgent national priorities were to provide a massive tax cut for corporations, business owners, and those who have inherited large sums of money.
For years, Republicans had touted an agenda of opportunity, including an increase in the earned income tax credit, especially for those workers without children. But when it came time to pass their tax bill, Republicans actually shrank the EITC by slowing its growth rate over time.
In fact, the 2017 tax law missed every significant opportunity to make a difference in the lives of working people: It did nothing to help working families afford childcare, pay for their child’s college education, or pay down their own student loan debt.
Perhaps most devastating is the impact on our nation’s healthcare system. The tax bill amounted to a back door effort to drive up health insurance costs, resulting in the loss of coverage for millions of Americans.
We will hear from some today that the economy is booming. And to an extent that is true. Investors are doing very well. Corporate CEOs have it great. Wealthy heirs couldn’t be doing better.
But in truth we have two economies. Let’s not pretend that stock market gains and corporate profits tell the whole story of today’s economy. This country also includes many middle-class and lower-income people who are working hard but struggling to get by.
Wages have been more or less flat for the middle class since the late 1970s, while housing, health care, and higher education get more expensive.
We need a healthy middle class in this country—one that people can stay in and one that people can climb up to. We expect people to earn their way, but we should also expect hard work to translate into financial dignity. A massive tax overhaul should have created a tax code that rewards effort, not simply the good fortune of those already at the very top.
And with that I will recognize the Ranking Member, Mr. Brady for an opening statement.