Neal Opening Statement at Hearing on the Republican Tax Law
(As prepared for delivery)
Thank you, Chairman Brady, for scheduling this very important hearing this morning.
Last year, Republicans had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to work with Democrats to simplify our tax code and create a system that provides opportunities for the American middle class. Instead, Republicans wrote a law that gives 83 percent of the tax savings to the top one percent. Meanwhile, 86 million American families will see their tax bills increase. That’s a great deal for the well-off and well-connected and a bad deal for American families.
It’s no surprise the middle class is left with a terrible deal – bad process leads to bad policy. Republicans rushed through their tax bill without the necessary review for a bill of this significance. This is a bill that affects 100% of our economy – it touches every business and every individual, yet there was not a single hearing nor a single witness. Remember, everyone lives an economy!
You cannot upend the revenue system of the country overnight without problems. And it’s already clear, there are many problems.
The problem that Republicans hope Americans overlook is the law’s devastating impact on your health care. In search of revenue to pay for corporate cuts, the GOP upended the health care system, causing 13 million Americans to lose their coverage. For others, health insurance premiums will spike by at least 10 percent, which translates to about $2,000 of extra costs per year for a family of four. Just last week, we saw insurance companies in Virginia and Maryland asking for enormous price increases, and more companies in states across the country will do the same in the weeks and months to come.
These new health expenses will dwarf any tax cuts promised to American families. The majority of workers are not seeing their paychecks grow. Higher health insurance costs – coupled with rising prices for prescription drugs and gas – are straining families’ finances.
The Republicans also hope that no attention is paid to the impact their tax plan will have on the nation’s debt. The fiscal irresponsibility of their law is stunning. Over the next ten years, they add at least $2.3 trillion to the nation’s debt to finance corporate tax cuts. Remember, this is borrowed money for a tax cut that goes to the people at the top.
And as we saw in 2001 and 2003 – tax cuts don’t pay for themselves, working families pay for them. When the bill comes due, Republicans intend to cut funding for programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Already, we have seen the Trump Administration propose massive cuts to the CHIP program, which ensures our neediest children have access to health coverage, and to Medicare, which provides healthcare to the nation’s seniors.
Mr. Chairman, when you began the process of tax reform, Democrats were very clear in reminding you that trickle-down economics simply does not work. If you didn’t believe us then, I hope you’ll believe us now. Since passage of the tax law, we have all watched as record stock buybacks have lined the pockets of the elite, as companies stated publicly that their tax cut is funding the offshoring of American jobs. One American corporation even went as far as admitting openly that your tax law gave them the money to lay off more than 5,000 U.S. workers. That’s 5,000 families whose lives will be upended by your irresponsible law.
Democrats have always believed that instead of investing in millionaires and billionaires, we should invest in the American worker. We know a strong America comes from a strong middle class. That would be a better way to do true tax reform.
Democrats have a plan to improve health insurance affordability and put more money in families’ wallets. We want to provide young people with high-quality education and ensure that workers have the career training they need to succeed. It’s also important that all Americans are financially secure, especially retirees. We know that when people aren’t worried about how they’re going to afford their next meal, student loan payment, or medical emergency, they can focus on their families and their jobs and contribute more fully to our nation.
I thank our witnesses for being here today and I look forward to a productive conversation.