Hundreds of loud and sometimes boisterous opponents of the soon-to-be-unveiled House GOP tax plan rallied at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, warning that the legislation would fundamentally alter the nation and place an unfair burden on lower- and middle-income families.
The rally, which attracted a swarm of TV cameras, came on the day Republicans were initially scheduled to release their tax plan. Tuesday evening, however, GOP leaders said they would need another day to make public their document, estimated at around 1,000 pages.
Groups sponsoring Wednesday’s event included Americans for Tax Fairness, Center for American Progress Action Fund, CHN, CREDO Mobile, Indivisible, MoveOn.org, Patriotic Millionaires, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Public Citizen, Stand Up America, and Tax March.
Neera Tanden, CAP Action Fund CEO, called the tax proposal “the biggest movement of money from working class people and the middle class to the rich that we have seen in our lifetime….It is like legalized stealing.”
Speakers ticked off a number of ways the tax proposal would hurt lower- or middle-income Americans. It is expected to reduce or eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes, which would both squeeze middle-income tax payers and starve local and state governments. Contributions to retirement plans could be limited and taxed at the outset, to generate more revenues to pay for the new tax cuts. It could actually raise taxes for some low- and middle-income Americans, depending on their family size and use of low-income tax credits. It is likely to deny the federal government much-needed revenue by exempting estates worth about $20 million or less from taxation (doubling the current level, which already exempts all but a fraction of one percent of estates), meaning further cuts to human needs programs.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, said the proposal would give $2 trillion in tax cuts to “giant corporations” and $700 billion to “wealthy foreign investors.”
“We are here to send a message: We have to say ‘no’ to corporate giveaways,” she said.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-TX, ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Tax Policy, warned that the measure actually will encourage corporations to send jobs overseas. He said he plans next week to offer an amendment to the bill, which he called the “Stop the Outsourcing Tax Amendment.”
He called the bill a “job-killer” in the U.S., and said it represents “outsourcing on steroids.”
“The message of the Republican bill is, dodge your taxes here, invest abroad, and create jobs abroad,” he said.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA, hit hard at the proposed reduction or elimination of the state and local tax deduction, known as SALT. She said about one-third of California’s households take advantage of the deduction when they file their annual federal income taxes. “The state and local tax deduction is vital to the livelihoods of middle-income families,” she said. “It should not be eliminated. It should not be weakened.”
Rep. Ted Lieu, D-CA, noted that many Republicans represent districts in California, New Jersey, and New York – high-tax states that take advantage of the state and local deduction. He said constituents in these states would be particularly hard hit. “I double-dare them to vote for this tax plan,” he said.
And, alluding to the delay in releasing the GOP proposal to the public, he quipped, “I can explain in one word why the Republicans are having so much trouble with their tax plan: Math.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, argued that passage of the tax legislation would fundamentally alter America. She said the massive debt that would result from the measure – conservatively estimated by some at $2.5 trillion – would make it difficult if not impossible to invest in important programs in the future.
Wednesday’s speakers included a witness from a state that has done locally what Republicans are working to do nationally.
Sarah LaFrenz, Kansas state employee, mother of three and PTA member, discussed massive tax cuts and service cuts imposed by Kansas lawmakers and Gov. Sam Brownback in 2012.
She said the number of public employees has fallen by 25 percent – meaning fewer teachers, social workers, corrections officers, fewer people to monitor air and water quality. She discussed the impact this has had on her state.
One example: The state Supreme Court has ruled that state lawmakers have failed to meet their obligation under the state constitution to adequately fund public schools. And just last week it was reported that the Kansas foster care system cannot locate more than 70 children who are supposed to be under its supervision.
“The state of Kansas has literally lost children because of this reprehensible cut in spending,” she said.
CHN will have a lot more to say about the tax proposal in the days, weeks, and months to come. Stay tuned.