November 29,2017

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Wyden Statement on Senate Floor on Republican Tax Bill

As Prepared for Delivery

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., delivered a statement on the Senate floor this evening on the Senate Republican tax bill.

“More and more Americans will face a tax hike with every passing year under this bill,” said Wyden. “Stealthy tax tricks will force people into higher tax brackets over time, heaping a heavier burden on their shoulders. Millions of working Americans are going to lose their health care and the tax credits that make insurance affordable. Put it all together, it’s immense amounts of money being taken from people who already walk an economic tightrope, and it’s being handed to corporations that ship jobs overseas.”

“This is not a plan to create red-white-and-blue jobs. This is not a plan to turn the lights back on in factories that went dark long ago. This is a plan to sell out millions of American workers and their families. And the damage will get even worse when the deficit climbs into the stratosphere.”

“What’s on offer is a plan to force working people and middle class families to pay for handouts to corporations and tax cheats. This bill does not deserve to pass. This bill doesn’t even deserve the ink it takes to print it on paper.”

Wyden’s full remarks as prepared for delivery

The Senate is twenty hours of debate away from a broken promise of historic proportions. This was supposed to be the year that the working people of America regained a voice in Washington. Instead of a strong voice, what they got is a con job. If this Republican tax bill passes, Washington will reach into the pockets of working Americans and cut a big check to multinational corporations, to tax cheats, and to the politically powerful and well connected.

The bill before the Senate would enshrine an economic double standard that makes permanent victims of Americans who work hard and do their best to provide for their families.

For the cops, nurses, mechanics and retail workers, this Republican tax plan is a gamble. They don’t get any special, new Cayman Island tax dodges. They’re stuck clinging to the hope that they won’t be among the millions hit with an immediate tax hike. Even for those lucky Americans who do see some benefit, there’s bad news coming down the pike. All they get out of this Republican plan is the fleeting sugar-high of temporary tax cuts.

But that’s not the case for corporations or powerful high-flyers who wield big political power. Under this tax plan, the basic message to them is, you can pay what you want, when you want -- you might even pay nothing at all.

That is not what was promised in the fall 2016 campaign. That’s not what Republicans have spent month after month telling Americans their tax plan would do. The Republican rhetoric does not match the reality of this tax plan. And every day there’s more frightening news about the harm it will do to working people and the middle class.

Just yesterday, I received a letter from the Joint Committee on Taxation that answered some important questions about the bill. Buried in one of those answers was information that ought to put a scare into millions of Americans who work hard every day to get ahead.

This bill showers trillions of dollars onto multinational corporations. But the fact is, corporations are already awash in cash. What that means, according to the independent experts at the JCT, is interest rates are going up. The Federal Reserve will have to tighten the screws on the economy.

But here’s the bottom line on what it means for a middle class American. If you want to buy a house, this bill is going to make it more expensive. If you want to buy a car, this bill is going to make it more expensive. If you want to get a credit card, this bill is going to make it more expensive. If you want to take out student loans, this bill is going to make it more expensive.

And it’s not just harm for typical families. The cost of doing business is going to rise for the brewery owner or the tool and die maker who wants to build new facilities and purchase new equipment. They might want to hire new workers, but they’ll find the money they need to do it is getting drained by higher interest rates.

In short, higher interest rates will wipe out the benefits of this bill for a lot of small businesses and add pain to the tax hikes that are going to hit millions of families. The only businesses and individuals who won’t feel the effects are those sitting on mountains of cash -- those who will never need to borrow to get ahead. And that’s just one of the latest frightening details about what this destructive bill will do.

If there was any doubt remaining, it’s now clear based on the JCT’s letter that individual, working Americans and families will be on the hook for handouts to multinational corporations.

Republicans have spent months shouting from the hilltops that they were bringing jobs back. The president made it a centerpiece of his campaign. The jobs were coming home. Corporations that ship jobs overseas would be punished. The plight of so many mill towns and factory towns was over.

It’s too bad those talking points from stump speeches and interviews never made it into the proposals on paper, because the tax plan before the Senate does the exact opposite.

Under the territorial international tax system in this bill, corporations will get a bigger tax cut if they lay off their American workers, pack up and move abroad. It creates colossal new loopholes -- huge, new gifts for tax cheats.

When it comes to international tax rules, my view is the U.S. shouldn’t get suckered into a race to the bottom with a bunch of no-tax, resort-lined islands to please the tax avoidance industry and their lobbyists. That’s an awfully expensive competition, in terms of taxpayer dollars AND jobs. But this Republican plan forces working Americans to pay up.

The JCT letter makes it clear that the Republican corporate tax scheme loses revenue. But the individual tax changes RAISE revenue. That’s a whole lot of tax lingo for working people getting robbed so that multinational corporations can pay a lot less.

Here’s how it works. More and more Americans will face a tax hike with every passing year. Stealthy tax tricks will force people into higher tax brackets over time, heaping a heavier burden on their shoulders. Millions of working Americans are going to lose their health care and the tax credits that make insurance affordable. Put it all together, it’s immense amounts of money being taken from people who already walk an economic tightrope, and it’s being handed to corporations that ship jobs overseas.

This is not a plan to create red-white-and-blue jobs. This is not a plan to turn the lights back on in factories that went dark long ago. This is a plan to sell out millions of American workers and their families. And the damage will get even worse when the deficit climbs into the stratosphere.

When the prospect of spending $1.5 trillion on this tax bill came up, the right-wing deficit hawks seemed to fly away. If that surprised some of us around here, it’s because it was just yesterday when the Congress couldn’t buy lunch without with a cast of hawks screeching about the deficit.

But what’s coming next is all too predictable. The deficit hawks will come flying back after this bill becomes law. Republicans are already saying “entitlement reform” and “welfare reform” are next up on the docket. But nobody should be fooled -- that’s just code for attacks on Medicaid, on Medicare, on Social Security, on anti-hunger programs. The story will be that America can’t afford these programs – they’ll say just look at the deficit.

But the American people have seen this movie before. The first big legislative push after the Bush tax cuts was an all-out assault on Social Security. And the fact that it was stopped back then doesn’t mean Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or any other safety net program will be safe this time around.

Colleagues, the policy on offer in this bill is a disaster. It makes a mockery of the approach Ronald Reagan took with a big group of Democrats, which was to ask corporations to pay a little more so that the federal government could put some money back in families’ pockets.

That approach culminated in the historic Tax Reform Act of 1986, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. In stark contrast, the once storied Senate Finance Committee never even attempted to craft a bipartisan bill this time around. I’ve spoken to Republican and Democratic senators involved in the 1986 bill, and they are astounded at the extreme partisan approach that has been followed by the Majority. The reckless process that’s brought the Senate to this point makes a mockery of Reagan-style reform, too.

From day one, the Majority Leader said he was using the most partisan process around, budget reconciliation, to pass this bill. What that tells the other party is, we don’t want your ideas because we don’t need your votes.

This proposal was written in secret without Democratic input. There was no outreach to this side of the aisle. It was rammed through the Finance Committee. It was rammed through the Budget Committee. And now the Senate is going to vote on this proposal in a matter of hours, and Senators still do not have answers to some of the most basic questions about what it will do or what the final price tag will be.

Many of my Republican colleagues have spent a long time raising Cain about the deficit, and some of them even mean it. But the majority is rushing ahead to pass this bill without knowing its full cost.

Republicans in Congress and the administration’s top salesmen have spent months and months telling the American people that in the long run, their bill would pay for itself with explosive economic growth.

Right-wing cheerleaders have even cooked up phony growth forecasts based on revenue-neutral reform plans that don’t exist. But respected economists will tell you that tax cuts do not pay for themselves. The honest predictions say that any growth caused by this bill will be anemic at best. And after they’ve spent years insisting on getting what’s called “dynamic scores” for their proposals, Republican Senators are rushing the independent scorekeepers at the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office too quickly to get a thorough analysis. They’ve got the pedal pressed firmly on the floor.

And finally, let’s not forget that this bill is still getting a rewrite behind closed doors. This is not regular order. This is not an open process with real debate and real amendments. This is a mad dash to pass a bill that cannot stand up to scrutiny and that the American people do not support.

What’s on offer is a plan to force working people and middle class families to pay for handouts to corporations and tax cheats. This bill does not deserve to pass. This bill doesn’t even deserve the ink it takes to print it on paper. And the process that’s culminated in this scramble on the Senate floor is shameful. I yield the floor.

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