Neal Opening Statement at Tax 2.0 Markup
(As prepared for delivery)
Thank you, Chairman Brady. It’s been eight months since the Republicans passed their massive, unpaid-for tax cut bill without a single Democratic vote. At the time, Democrats and independent experts warned that a so-called tax reform plan that wasn’t paid for and that was so heavily skewed to the wealthy and big corporations would harm our economy and damage important programs like Medicare and Social Security.
We’re eight months on now and we’re beginning to see what many of us feared is coming true. Insurance companies in state after state are announcing higher premiums for next year, while health coverage for those living with pre-existing conditions is on the chopping block. To make matters worse, the Medicare Trustees cut three years off the life of the Medicare Trust Fund because of the Republican tax bill.
After showering corporations with trillions of dollars in tax cuts, corporations across the country are pocketing their money, laying off workers and shipping operations to other countries. In one particularly egregious case, an executive at a well-known company stated that the savings the company received from the Republican tax law allowed them to restructure and lay off hundreds of workers.
Despite all of this, Republicans are doubling down and moving forward with another round of tax cuts for the well-off and well-connected.
In fact, the Republicans are cutting taxes for the rich for the second time in less than a year. By making permanent the cut to the Clinton/Obama/Boehner/McConnell top rate, Republicans are providing a huge tax cut for just a fraction of the top five percent of taxpayers.
The GOP also has disguised a massive giveaway to millionaires by calling it a new benefit for small businesses. In fact, more than half of the benefit of the Republicans’ so-called small business tax benefit, which they make permanent, goes to millionaires.
At the same time, the Republicans have doubled down on their attack on the middle class by making permanent the limits to the State and Local Tax deduction, the mortgage interest deduction, and casualty loss deductions. And by eliminating personal exemptions alone, 290 million individuals will no longer be able to claim $1.14 trillion in tax savings. Tax scam 2.0 repeals these and many other tax incentives that help middle-class families get ahead, while lavishing benefits on the wealthy and well-connected corporations.
Furthermore, with today’s bill, the so-called party of fiscal conservatism will be passing over $3 trillion in tax breaks in less than a year.
Let me give you a little bit of a history lesson. In January 2001, when President Bush took over from President Clinton, CBO estimated the total budget surplus for 2002 to 2011 would be $5.6 trillion. But what actually happened during that period? The federal government ran deficits that totaled $6.1 trillion.
What happened when President Clinton left office? In 2001, Republicans cut taxes by $1.3 trillion; in 2003, by $1 trillion; and in 2005, there was the repatriation tax holiday.
The Republicans call themselves fiscal conservatives but nothing could be further from the truth. History doesn’t lie and now we’re seeing it again with the addition of more than $3 trillion to the nation’s debt.
This package, like the one before it, is being rushed through with no hearings and no input from stakeholders.
A rushed and lopsided process resulted in the disastrous tax law. In fact, my staff has identified over 100 problems with the Republicans’ tax law. Yet the Republicans are doubling down on their flawed policies with this exercise, with bills guaranteed to be dead-on-arrival in the Senate.
The Republicans’ tax 2.0 legislation is another reckless tax cut for the wealthy that leaves behind average, hardworking families. Therefore, I will be opposing HR 6760 and encourage my colleagues to do the same.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.