December 11,2019

Wyden Statement on Senate Floor Ahead of Second Anniversary of Trump Tax Scam

As Prepared for Delivery

Mr. President, the Trump tax law is two years old, and it’s an unhappy anniversary. The economic legacy of this administration will be spending $1.5 trillion to widen the economic gap in America.

Trump and Republicans in Congress promised they’d write a tax bill that was focused on helping workers and the middle class. They did not. They said the bill would pay for itself. Wrong by a few trillion dollars. They said it would kick off a towering wave of job-creating investment in America. It has not. They said workers would get a $4,000 raise on average. Wrong again. It turned out to be 28 bucks.

None of those promises – zilch, zippo, nada – none of them were true.

That was all just part of the con job aimed at getting the middle class to buy into the same old trickle-down mumbo jumbo Republicans have been spinning for decades.

Here’s the bottom line on what the Trump tax law was all about: It made wealthy people even wealthier, and it made the middle class an afterthought.

It slashed rates for those at the top and for corporations. Those corporations turned around and shoveled that money back to shareholders, who are mostly wealthy themselves, through a historic boom in stock buybacks. 

Now the sugar high has worn off. Business investment is slowing down – and next year it’s projected to decline for the first time in a decade. There’s scant evidence that meaningful benefits trickled their way down to the middle class in the last two years. Frankly, you can’t help but be amazed that a law that cost so much could fail the middle class so completely – in the end it’ll cost $2 trillion, and it accomplished hardly any good.

Now, there are two issues everybody needs to focus on going forward.

First, Republicans are musing about another scam tax proposal relying on the same trickle-down playbook. I’ll break some news here on the Senate floor: This one wouldn’t really be focused on the middle class either.

According to press reports, the changes they’re considering would amount to another massive handout for those at the very top. One Trump adviser is reportedly discussing a proposal that would effectively wipe out the taxation of capital gains.

The U.S. tax code is already a tale of two systems – one strict set of rules for working people and another set for high-flyers who get to pay what they want, when they want.

If you want to write a tax reform proposal that helps the middle class, that’s the problem you have to go after. You’ve got to have one set of rules that apply to everybody. That’s how you get to fairness in the tax code.

But under this new proposal the Trump people are kicking around, you can forget those at the top paying a fair share. Wealthy people whose income is based on capital gains would be off the hook completely!

The first Trump tax law took what’s already broken about our tax system – unfairness to the middle class – and it made that problem even worse. You’re not going to fix it by doubling down on the same failed policies. 

And here’s the second issue for Americans to focus on in the months ahead. The Trump administration is now more than three years old. The tax law, and its handouts to billionaires and corporations – that’s the administration’s biggest economic accomplishment to date. But it’s inseparable from a Trump agenda that’s all about helping those at the top at the expense of everybody else.

Donald Trump has sought to kick more than 20 million Americans off their health care since day one. He has attempted to gut Medicaid, which pays for one out of three seniors in nursing homes and is the centerpiece of our fight against opioid addiction.

He proposed slashing education funding for students and teachers. He proposed slashing funding for housing at a time when millions and millions of Americans are struggling to afford rent or to cover the mortgage. Job training. Home heating assistance. Meals on Wheels. He has proposed cutting all of it.

So it’s the same old pattern again and again. Tax handouts for billionaires and corporations send the deficit into the stratosphere, and then working people and the middle class are expected to endure the pain of Trump budget cuts.

Enough is enough. The middle class know they got a raw deal in the Trump tax law in 2017. That’s why it’s been so unpopular from the beginning.

On the anniversary of the Trump tax law, the only people celebrating are the high-flyers and corporate executives who are still tallying up the handouts they got. People who work for a living look back on that law as a failure, because they saw through the con job from the beginning.

And in the months and years ahead, I’m going to work with my Democratic colleagues, and anybody else who’s interested in fixing our broken tax system for good. Creating one set of rules built on fairness that apply to everybody.