Pelosi Remarks at Joint Press Conference with Leader Schumer on the Negative Impact of #GOPTaxScam
Contact: Ashley Etienne/Henry Connelly, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to outline why the GOP tax bill will hurt Americans in communities across the U.S. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks.
Thank you very much, Mr. Leader. I associate myself with the Leader's remarks in the interest of time. When he talked about champagne bottles being opened in the executive suites and in the White House, I will add to that Joe Six-Pack is paying the price in a very severe way.
Today, the House Republicans are cheering. They are toasting the fact that they raised taxes on 86 million American families, middle class families. Remember these three numbers. Eighty-six: 86 million middle class families get a tax increase. Eighty-three: 83 percent of the tax advantage goes to the top percent. Thirteen: 13 million Americans may lose health insurance as their premiums go up under elimination of the individual mandate. This is what they are [toasting] to.
Now, the Republicans are taking their cruel victory lap, toasting it with champagne with their donors and the wealthiest. But they didn't do what they promised. Think of this: in the campaign, the president said that he would end the carried interest loophole. Instead, maybe he didn’t communicate this to the Republicans in Congress, or maybe they used him as their front man, but they didn't do that. Instead they did not end the carried interest loophole. They protected and even added more loopholes for the richest.
Secretary [Steven] Mnuchin, Secretary Mnuchin promised the GOP would not cut taxes for the rich, and then they handed the wealthiest one percent 83 percent of the benefits in this tax proposal. The president promised the middle class would benefit when he was on the campaign trail. And of course it raises taxes again on 86 million middle class American families.
The GOP said it would pay for itself. It would pay for itself. Instead, it will explode the national debt. And on that score, when Speaker Ryan was asked this morning, while Mitch – it was in the wee small hours. I don't know why he said what he said, but it was this morning, either early-early or later this morning he was saying – the Speaker was on the TODAY show, and when they asked him if the tax bill would create enough growth to not add to the deficit, the Speaker said, ‘nobody knows the answer to that.’
Well, we know the answer to that. It will not. And don't take it just from us. We have always known. Every credible analysis from every expert in or out of government, Republican and Democrat, say Republicans are exploding the debt with their giveaways to the wealthy. As Bruce Bartlett, who helped create the Republican tax trickle-down with Jack Kemp said: anyone who says this, ‘it's not true, it's nonsense.’ Should I say what he said? ‘It’s B.S.’ But he said the full thing.
And the Republicans know it. The Republicans only care about the deficit— You know, whatever happened, I say it over and over. The poor deficit hawk – it’s become, if not an endangered species, extinct, because the Republicans only seem to care about the deficit when it comes time to invest in people. Not when it comes time to give giveaways to corporate America and the wealthiest. That's okay, but the sad fact is: investing in people, the education of our children – nothing brings more to the Treasury than investing in early childhood, K through 12, higher education, postgrad, lifetime learning for our workers.
Nothing brings more money to the Treasury than investing in education, but that always has to be offset, whereas permanent tax cuts for corporate America to the tune of over a trillion dollars which will add more in terms of interest on the debt – that does not have to be offset or paid for.
If it’s corporate America, you have a free ride, if it’s investing in our children, you have to pay for it – just look at CHIP being one example of that.
So as their tax scam explodes the deficit, Republicans will tell seniors, ‘Oh, we have this big deficit’ – to disabled children, to working families, to seniors, ‘We can’t afford Medicare, Medicaid’ – in fact they said this week about raising the age to be eligible for Social Security.
Republicans are – again – we have a better path – we hope going forward to make the case to the American people that we should be working in a bipartisan way to create growth that generates good-paying jobs that does reduce the deficit. That’s the comparison between us.
In fact, when Speaker Boehner was Speaker, and this all came up in the Bush years, he wasn’t Speaker then but he referenced it – they said, trickle-down economics – the policy they were advocating for – if it creates jobs, that’s good, but if it doesn’t? ‘So be it.’ That’s the free market – free market. These guys had a hand in Uncle Sam’s pocket every step of the way, but it’s the free market when it comes to anything else.
Americans saw right through this brazen con-job Republicans tried to sell them. Even the simplicity of it all -- they were going to reduce the brackets – they did not – there were seven, they said it was going to be four – it’s seven. They said you could return your taxes on a postcard, really? Maybe the size of this postcard [gesturing towards poster board] but I don’t know how you get that through the mail.
The American people saw the Republican tax scam is not working for American working families. The foundation has been laid on this message: the GOP tax scam is about bleeding the American people dry to pad the pockets of corporate America and the wealthiest one percent. I’m pointing to the sign, Mr. Leader.
Leader Schumer. I am certainly not in that bubble.
Leader Pelosi. Insulting crumbs – the insulting crumbs they give working families are meager and temporary. The tax breaks for corporate America are vast and permanent. After all the President’s promises – I am just thinking, ‘Did he get conned by Republicans in Congress?’ Because they have kept their promises to the American people.
Leader Schumer. Willingly conned.
Leader Pelosi. Willingly conned. He’s responsible for his actions, for sure, but they have not kept his promises to the American people – maybe that was the con? After all the President’s promises, after all the Republicans’ brazen, brazen misrepresentations to the American people, the true face has been revealed. Instead of focusing on the millions of our veterans – our veterans are the forgotten Americans – Republicans have voted to install a permanent plutocracy in our country that does violence to the vision of our founders, violence to the vision of what they sacrificed so much for. Thank you.
Leader Schumer. Questions first on this subject.
Q: On the subject – one of the big Republican promises was that they were going to sweep corporate loopholes out of the tax code – how did they do on that front?
Leader Schumer. Every day we're finding more corporate loopholes that were put in that bill. That will continue over the next month or two. When you do a bill in the dark, it gives a great opportunity for lobbyists to do their handiwork and give huge breaks to specific corporations and others. The corporate loopholes are worse than ever in this bill – it's more complicated today than it was before they started. It’s more regressive today than before they started. It’s more unfair today than before when they started. .
Leader Pelosi. By the way, these are tax expenditures. That is spending the taxpayers' money to give to corporations – of course they are not paid for.
Q: One of the consequences of the bill is that they talked about having to waive the pay-go provisions here. That’s something they want to do right away – I know on your side, I haven't spoken to you about it, but Mr. Hoyer said that they would provide the votes, keep the government open if they put that in there, seems like you guys got –
Leader Schumer. They haven't shown us any plan how they'll get it done. Let’s wait until they come to us and tell us how they expect to get [it] done – let's wait until they come to us and see what their plan is for getting it done.
Q: Do you think Leader McConnell misled Senator Collins in promising they could pass the bills to win her support?
Leader Schumer. Unclear what they said – it's clear one thing, Leader McConnell and all the Republicans have made the health care system much worse. Thirteen million people not covered. Premiums going up by 10 percent and no one believes that the two bills that Senator Collins wants added to this, which now they have said they are delaying until January, but no one believes that those two bills would make up for the destruction that is caused by removing the mandate and they are going to pay a price for that, bigtime. They talk about, again, the increase in premiums for so many Americans will far outweigh any tax decrease they get.
Leader Pelosi. Those increases are wholly owned by the Republican Party. When you take the individual mandate and reduce by 13 million people, perhaps that many from the pool, you're increasing costs.
Leader Schumer. One other thing. [Senator] Patty Murray has said this – Alexander-Murray was not designed for a system where the mandate was removed. It doesn't work anymore. It’s an empty promise whether it's in a bill or out of a bill.
Q: They are talking about correction bill on the extenders. You warned that there may be loopholes in here hemorrhaging revenue. How much do and democrats engage on subsequent –
Leader Schumer. We think this bill is so bad it's very hard to fix in small little tweaks. We’ll see what they propose, but our view – we're going to hammer away at this. This is going to be an issue for us all year. This is not just forgotten. The fact – they say once people learn of what is in this bill they'll be for it. The Koch brothers have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to persuade people this is a good bill and [a] majority of Americans by most polls think it's a bad bill. The reason is simple: the suspicions of the American people that the Republican Party is helping the wealthy and the powerful corporations and not the middle class has been confirmed in this bill.
Leader Pelosi. Just to say: they did a massive bill that has trillions of dollars of impact on the economy without a single hearing, with only the person from the joint tax committee responding to questions at the markup, with accepting no amendments. And now, all of a sudden, they have this massive bill that they have done, the speed of light in the dark of night, they think that we're going – that they are going to tweak this into something better? We have to go to comprehensive tax reform in a bipartisan way, create growth, generate good-paying jobs, and reduce the deficit. If they have those goals, you wouldn't end up – if they had those goals you wouldn't end up –
Leader Schumer. We had bipartisan talks going in the Senate with Republicans and Democrats and the Republican Leadership pulled the Republicans out. We could have had a much better bill, done in a bipartisan way, that would have been permanent, would have done much more for the middle class and done much more to reduce the deficit.
Leader Pelosi. That's not what they were about. They weren't about the middle class. In their DNA, the Republicans are about tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate America. They are for trickle down. They are not for bubble up.
Q: The Republicans repeatedly said, look, the proof will be in the paycheck next year – you are going to see more money that you can spend on your own. What can you point to as Democrats to say, this tax plan isn't so good for you?
Leader Schumer. First, a whole lot of people will get tax increases and, second, the average American says, even if I get $100 tax decrease, why is the wealthy person getting a $50,000 tax decrease? The decrease should go to the middle class and people trying to get there, not wealthy people. That’s why the bill is so unpopular. They know what this bill is all about. They know they are getting crumbs, if that, while the wealthy are getting big pieces of cake – that's why it's so unpopular.
Q: Eighty percent would see some kind of tax cut. Is that true?
Leader Schumer. The Tax Policy Center certainly said some would get a tax cut, but it's small – it vanishes and the wealthy get a much bigger break. That’s what the American – polling data, very interesting. The world has changed since the time even of George W. Bush's tax cuts. When people ask if you get a small tax break and the wealthy get a big tax break, do you want it or not? Overwhelmingly, the people say no.
Q: Different topic.
Leader Schumer. Any more on this one?
Q: On the child tax credit, could you talk about the Democratic provision not to support the Rubio-Lee amendment? Was it a missed opportunity?
Leader Schumer. The Rubio-Lee Amendment wasn't hardly anything – we had a much better proposal. They missed opportunity by not supporting in our house the Brown-Bennet proposal, which would have done something. So many of our Republican colleagues knew this was a bad bill. They tried to tweak it to make it a tiny little bit better – that's not going to solve the problem at all.
Leader Pelosi. In that regard, one of the champions of the child tax credit in our house, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who has devoted her life to addressing the needs of children in America, child tax credit was something she wanted. It's important to note this: if you make $400,000 a year, you get a $4,000 child tax credit –family of four – you're a single mom with two children making $14,000 a year, how much do you think you get? Seventy-five dollars – 75 dollars.
Leader Schumer. The child tax credit they did mirrors what they have done in the bill – the wealthier you are, the better you did.
Leader Pelosi. Not just amount of money – percentage.
Q: How do you point the Democrats keep hammering this going forward, you alluded to this, the President himself tends to do very well under this bill. Is that going to be a central part of the Democrats' message?
Leader Schumer. The President does very well under this bill. Most of his cabinet does very well under this bill – large percentage of his contributors do very well under this bill. Yes, the President is part of the top 1 percent and the bill is aimed to help the top 1 percent. So the President's part and parcel to the problem.
Leader Pelosi. Our focus in the campaign will be what this means to people and their individual lives – financial insecurity, financial instability is a major concern – apprehension for the American people and we have to show them there is a better way. We have a Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future, and that's part of the debate that we will have. Yes, they get all of that at the exploitation of the workers and on top of it all, which is really kind of very sad, is they try to represent that, it's about the middle class.
Let me go back to [Treasury Secretary Steve] Mnuchin. I think his statement is just so – Mnuchin, we're talking about billionaires here.
Leader Schumer. [Secretary] Mnuchin seems to make it up as he goes along.
Leader Pelosi. [Mnuchin] says, ‘GOP won’t cut taxes for the rich.’ The GOP handed the top 1 percent 83 percent of the benefits – that's one part – what does it mean to you in your life? You are going to lose some of your deductions whether it's on your mortgage or estate taxes – the SALT [state and local income tax] will hurt people and the services they receive from their state and local governments. It is also about they are going to lose access to quality, affordable health care as well – the list goes on and on – it's really more about our constituents. Yes, making the contrast, but focusing on what it means to them.
Leader Schumer. About our constituents – one place we'll focus on is the suburbs – this is a horrible bill for so many suburban people. And they know it and the suburbs are now, I think, going to move much bluer because of this tax bill.
Q: Will you allow Congress to adjourn without a CHIP deal?
Leader Schumer. Look, we're trying to get as good a deal as possible. We're not going to negotiate against ourselves right here, but the bottom line is we haven't even seen anything, they are so busy with the tax proposal that we haven't seen a proposal – haven't even seen a proposal. Leader Pelosi can talk about the house. We haven't seen a thing from Senate Republicans. We have to see what they proposed. Bottom line is there are things they want, things we want. If they sit down with us, we could come to a good agreement. If they don't, it will lead to real problem.
Leader Pelosi. The Children's Health Insurance Program serves 9 million children in our country. Its authorization ended on September 30, the end of the fiscal year. For three months, nearly, how many months is that, we have had this vacuum where states are losing funds – running out of funds to meet the needs, and what are the republicans doing? They sent a bill to the floor called the Walden bill. How they pay, because you have to pay for children's health, you have to pay for corporate America – how do they pay for it? What offsets do they use? Other children's health – in order to pay for the CHIP program, they'll take money out of the prevention fund, which is about inoculations for children, it's about addressing lead poisoning in regard to children and other issues that relate to children's health.
So they are saying to children, we'll pass the Children's Health Insurance Programs, but you are going to pay for it out of another children's account – that's totally unacceptable. That's the bill they sent to the floor. That's the bill we voted against. That is the same bill that they say they are going to put in the CR.
Leader Schumer. Why did they wait so long? Children’s health has been in trouble in since September. On issue after issue, they have been so busy giving tax breaks to the wealthy that they have neglected so many issues, including CHIP, including FISA, including issues very important to America – they are derelict in their duties – now they are scrambling at the last minute. One more.
Q: The House is considering taking up a bill that would boost defense spending – there is less money –
Leader Schumer. From what we have been told, the previous anomalies are ways to get around the defense cap. We will not accept that. One way or the other they should – we have said all along there's got to be parity, defense goes up, spending for average families goes up. In terms of health care, in terms of education, in terms of infrastructure, veterans, opioids, pensions. We’re sticking with that. We’re not letting them try to get around this one way or the other. Thank you, everybody.
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