[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 198 (Tuesday, December 5, 2017)]
From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
REPUBLICAN TAX BILL
Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, even as my Republican friends move to
reconcile their two tax bills in a conference committee, their problems
are far from over.
At the heart of their bill is a toxically unpopular idea--giant tax
breaks on big corporations and the very wealthy, paid for by cutting
care and raising taxes on millions of middle-class families. The new
Republican Party is the party of tax hikes on the middle class to
subsidize corporate welfare. That menacing idea at the core of its bill
is a problem that, like Hydra, spouts many heads.
Slashing the State and local deduction remains a massive problem for
House Republicans from suburban districts like Virginia, New York,
Illinois, Washington, and, of course, California. Multiple analyses
have shown that, despite the so-called compromise that allows families
to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes, the pain inflicted on
suburban families will not be much mitigated. States like California
New York will still experience an exodus of taxpayers, which will drain
local resources and impact services. For those House Republicans,
voting for the conference report is a poisonous vote, substantively and
politically, not to mention that home values will fall in those
districts of those House Republicans. If they are voting to decrease
home values by 10 or 8 percent for every homeowner in their districts,
that is political suicide. Why would they do it? That is what will
happen, and the homeowners will start seeing that right away.
Another problem: The last-minute inclusion of a corporate AMT has
Republicans and corporate leaders scrambling to figure out if it will
have the unintended consequence of functionally eliminating the value
of the R&D tax credit. Remember, the corporate AMT was added at the
last minute because Republicans needed more revenue to offset a
generous rate on passthroughs.
That is what Republicans were working on in the waning hours of last
week, not trying to figure out how we could help middle-class families
with kids in college, with kids who have serious medical expenses, and
not reducing the impact that it would have on our deficit. Oh, no. They
were busy figuring out how to make tax cuts for the wealthy even more
generous as 70 percent of our passthrough income already flows to the
top 1 percent, not the top 20 percent, not the top 10 percent--the top
1 percent. There is 70 percent of passthrough income that goes to the
top 1 percent of earners. The Republican tax bill already slashed the
rate on passthroughs, but several Republican Senators withheld their
votes until that loophole was widened further.
I understand that they wanted to help smaller businesses, but take
the time and figure out how to help the small businesses without
helping the hedge funds, corporate law firms, the big lobbying firms,
and other wealthy individuals. Take the time to figure it out--but no.
In the rush to get a crumb for small business owners, they are giving a
whole, big, nice chocolate layer cake to the wealthy. It is wrong, very
The inclusion of the corporate AMT is another reminder that
Republicans cannot have it both ways. You cannot cut every conceivable
tax on big corporations and the wealthy without blowing up the deficit.
If Republicans are forced to go back and look at the corporate AMT,
they will have to find revenue elsewhere. Will they slightly lessen
another corporate tax break or will they ask working Americans to pay
more, which they have done in previous iterations on this bill?
Yesterday, we learned the Republican leadership circulated talking
points that questioned the legitimacy of the Joint Committee on
Taxation--the nonpartisan, independent scorekeepers of tax legislation.
Rather than confront the awful truth that their bill will not pay for
itself as it, instead, costs about $1 trillion even with dynamic growth
estimates, the Republican leadership asked its Members to shoot the
messenger. The JCT, which is widely respected and always accepted by
both parties, is, all of a sudden, a pariah in Republican circles
because it told the truth--that this bill would not cause the growth
they projected, that this bill will increase the deficit far more than
the Republicans had hoped.
The Republican leadership tried to discredit the nonpartisan umpire
it had long praised and had appointed. What a disgrace. It brings up
that what has happened in the last week or two here has been one of the
most disgraceful episodes in the history of the Senate--a major bill
done behind closed doors, rushed through. Then, adding insult to
injury, the truthtellers--the independent, appointed-by-Republican
monitors--were discredited because our Republican colleagues didn't
like hearing the answer.
There is still time to avert this awful bill. If my Republican
friends vote no on the conference bill, we can do a bipartisan tax
reform bill. We can pursue a much better process and get a much better
product and go so far as to heal a Senate that has been wounded by
partisanship and strife, greatly aggravated by the majority's actions
on this tax bill.