Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference on Negative Impacts of GOP Tax Bill

Nov 2, 2017
Press Release

Contact: Ashley Etienne/Henry Connelly, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Congressman Richard Neal and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Senator Ron Wyden at a press conference on the negative impacts of the Republican tax bill.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks: 

Leader Pelosi.  Good afternoon, everyone.  Thank you for being here.

As you know, today House Republicans introduced a bill that raises taxes on millions of middle class families and borrows trillions from the future just to give massive new tax breaks to the wealthy and especially their friends, corporate America.

The American people deserve real, bipartisan tax reform that puts the middle class first, growth – creating good paying jobs – and lowers the deficit.  This Republican plan doesn’t do any of that, in fact it is a give-away to corporations and the wealthiest.  

They brag about saying they have sample family, that if you make this much money, you get this much of a tax break.  What’s really important to know about what they’re doing is what they give you with one hand, they take away with the other.  

Raising taxes again on millions of middle class families hoping that the American people won’t figure it out because they’re going to race this through.  

We know that there [are] some Members on the Floor of the House today who are the Ways and Means Committee who have never even seen this bill.  

So if you’re a middle class family, how do you judge this?  If you own a home or want to one day, you lose.  If you have a sick child or a family with long-term medical care needs, they take away the medical deduction, you lose.  If you have student loans or want to have student loans or use the credit for lifetime learning –  there’s a credit for lifetime learning – you lose.  If your corporation wants to pay for learning for employees, that deduction is gone, you lose.  If your family lives in a state, any state, and don’t want your income taxed twice, you lose.  And if you plan to live past 65 and need Medicare, you lose.

Hidden in the pages of the Ryan-McConnell bill are plans to raise taxes on working families by dismantling state and local tax deductions.  Encouraging companies to ship jobs overseas, this is very important, shipping jobs overseas costs you less than creating jobs in America, offshoring jobs at the expense of the American worker.  

$1.5 trillion in tax breaks for corporate America.  This all goes together, it’s a package for corporate America, $1.5 trillion in tax breaks for corporate America.  The same amount that they cut from Medicare, $500 billion, and Medicaid, a trillion.  Trillion and a half from Medicare and Medicaid, trillion and a half gift to corporate America.  And the additional gift of lowering the cost of shipping, making it cheaper for them to ship jobs overseas instead of creating jobs in the United States.

Even after ransacking all the middle class benefits Republicans are still adding trillions to the deficit, scheming to use the debt they’re piling up today to obliterate Medicare and Medicaid tomorrow.  This is a shell-game, a Ponzi scheme, that corporate America will perpetrate on the American people.  

The Republican bill written in secret, designed to be raced forward before it’s truly understood, ransacks vital benefits for the middle class but if you’re the wealthiest one percent, Republicans will give you the sun, the moon and the stars – all of that at the expense of the great middle class which is the backbone of our democracy.

I’m pleased to welcome back to the House side, and yield to, the distinguished Democratic Leader of the Senate Chuck Schumer. 

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Leader Pelosi.  I just wanted to put three facts together here about corporate America because you say the President didn’t say this or that during the campaign to seniors.  He didn’t say to America’s workers that we’re going to give a trillion and half dollar tax break to corporate America, the same amount we’re going to take out of Medicare and Medicaid,  give a trillion and half dollar tax break to corporate America, make it cheaper for them to send jobs overseas than create jobs here.

Then as the Senator said, Ranking Member on the Senate Finance Committee [Ron Wyden] said, ‘while individuals in the state cannot deduct State and Local Taxes, corporations can and even corporations that make that money overseas.’  

It’s a total rip and when he said, ‘I found some crumbs,’ it just reminds you of a big banquet for the rich and powerful sharing all the money that they’re taking from the middle class while they throw some crumbs. 

It’s a flim-flam it has to be rejected.  You have to help us get the word out.  

Any questions?

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Q:  With reconciliation, Republicans can move forward with this without you guys.  What is your role here?  We know you’re against this but what’s your role?

Leader Schumer.  Same role we had in health care, let the American people know about the bill.  They won’t like it and as a result they won’t get enough votes to pass it.  This bill is so against what the average American wants, and they’re beginning to see it.

Most of the polling data shows that people are now against the Trump tax plan.  The poll I saw said it was 58 percent said they thought it was for the wealthy 18 percent against it.  Another one was 48 percent against 28 percent for.  And these folks are going to go home, and many of them are in vulnerable districts and their constituents are going to know that they’re hurting average voters to help the very wealthy.  No one buys that except the thousand people in the right wing contributions and the people in the think tanks and law schools that they pay. 

So once the public learns about this plan, now that it’s public – they’re not going to like it.  There’s going to be huge pressure on Republicans not to vote for it.

Q:  Democratic unity was extremely powerful on Obamacare and you didn’t lose any Members.  This is going to be a harder lift on that.  How confident are you?

Leader Chuck Schumer.  Well we have 45 of our 48 signed a letter that asked for three things.  One: no tax breaks for the one percent.  They get a big one through the pass-throughs, huge, and estate tax.  Two: budget neutrality, don’t increase the deficit.  This tax bill blows a huge hole through the deficit.  And third: work with us, don’t use reconciliation.  

Even the three who didn’t vote for it, didn’t sign our letter agree with those three principles.  This bill is very far away from – just listen to what they’re saying about it.

Senator Ron Wyden.  Elana, I went with the five Democrats to the White House about 10 days or so ago.  They were five Democrats up for election in 2018, in the states that Donald Trump won and all of them very specifically backed up the principles that Leader Schumer just mentioned.

First thing out of their mouth [was] ‘we got to get this to the middle class.’  Second, ‘we can’t get it to the wealthy.’  In fact when the Senate Finance Democrats brought it up, the President said, ‘oh we don’t want it to go to people like myself’ and that it wouldn’t clobber Social Security and Medicare.  So the points that he has stressed were the very ones that the Senate Democrats in states that the President won in 2018 emphasized when they were with the President. 

Leader Chuck Schumer  And you’ve got an interesting dynamic here, in the House you have a lot of Republicans from suburban fairly well-off districts, who are going to get clobbered by this bill.  So to get it to pass which I don’t know if they’ll be able to do it, they have to make the deficit worse by getting rid of the few pay-fors which are mainly on the backs of the middle class.

In the Senate, you have a good number of Senators who are deficit hawks, Republicans.  And they don’t want to vote for something that drives a multi-billion dollar hole in the deficit.  So what helps them pass it in the House hurts to help them in the Senate.  They’re in a very difficult position. 

Leader Pelosi.  And I might add that in addition to internal unity we had unity with all those outside with what was happening with health care and they see that was tax bill disguised as a health care bill – what they did before and that was defeated.  Now they have a tax bill which seriously undermines the good health of the American people.  So many of those same people will be making calls into the Republican districts about the medical tax deduction, about what it does to Medicare and Medicaid, about what it does to charitable giving because many of these charitable organizations meet the need of the neediest and they are very activated in the Republican districts so our unity internally is good for our maneuvering but the outside mobilization is unified against this as well.  And while the health bill was life and death, this is really everything on the line.

Q:  Why are the California Republicans supporting this bill?  You’re in the same spot –

Leader Pelosi.  Well that is a very good question.  Earlier today, some of you may have been here, we had our California delegation Democrats lined up and 14 of them read what it meant in different districts – how many people it affected, what the average deduction would be – in one district, [Congressman] Royce, it is over 200,000 people, around 18,000 in the deduction as he voted for it.  It will be interesting to see.  

Our Governor has sent letters to them – we have lots of press going on about it.  They are hoping that their constituents don’t know what is happening here and that is the point the Leader [Schumer] made earlier.  They are just hoping they can just masquerade – in this week of Halloween – masquerade as fiscal conservatives and the rest.  I indict them for what they are doing to their own constituents – costing them money, why?  Why?  Why is always the question?  Why?  So they can give tax cuts to the high-end and corporate America enabling them to ship jobs overseas at an advantage, take their deduction even for the money they make overseas while depriving their own constituents of that.  

So they will be hearing from their constituents on it.  Let’s hope that they were just enabling the process to go forward – let’s hope that’s the case or maybe, ideologically, they are just trickle-down guys – and their constituents will have to make a judgment about that. 

Leader Schumer.  The Republican leadership in the House and Senate said, ‘Don’t stop it now.  Let it go forward and let’s see what happens.’  It is likely to get worse.  The likelihood – they may be living in the old world – back in 2000, if you gave huge tax breaks to the wealthy and crumbs to the middle class, the middle class would say, ‘Oh, at least I’m getting something.’  The world is different.  With income distribution the way it is, with the populism and anger that propelled Donald Trump to the presidency – you can’t get away with that anymore.  You can’t give the middle class a crumb or two, give all the tax breaks the rich and powerful and have people go along with it.  

Q:  To the Senators, what do you think the Finance Committee will do on this bill? 

Senator Wyden.  As of now, what we have been led to believe is, after the legislation gets out of the House Ways and Means Committee, Chairman Hatch intends to lay down his own mark.  Now he has been part of this gang of six so we don’t know what he will do.  My hope is that he will see over the next few days how many of his constituents in Utah get hurt, how damaging this is to the middle class, how harmful it is to students.  He’ll say, ‘I don’t want to go that route.’  Now, I can’t tell you what the odds are, but one of the reasons we are going to be working around the clock right now, particularly, is this unheard-of concept with [Congressman] Rich Neal has got to have a markup of a bill on Monday with virtually no information.  

[Former Congressman] Bill Bradley called up the other day, friend of all of ours, and was intimately involved in the ’86 bill and I explained to him what is going on and he was just incredulous because in the Finance Committee they took days and days to find common ground.  They were on the floor of the Senate for weeks to try to come together.  And the point I made to Chairman Hatch was – I said, ‘You know, if you decide you won’t accept our principles: focus on the middle class, not for the people on top, not wrecking Social Security and Medicare – you are not going to get a bipartisan bill and if you pass this on a partisan off-ramp only, you might get a sugar high but you will see that you and your party will have a lot of problems in the days ahead.’

So what we are trying to do is to generate as much visibility and focus on what this bill actually does so that after [Congressman] Rich Neal and the Ways and Means Committee does everything they can, we can build on it and, hopefully, in the Senate, produce something different. 

Q:  The House Republicans have proposed eliminating the private activity bonds that are used to build airports and other things.  Congressman Neal, you are a part of the group of twenty Democrats –

Congressman Neal.  You should know I lifted the cap on private activity bonds when we were in the majority.  You’ve described it – its stimulus.  Like Build America bonds – its stimulus.  Anyone who has been to an airport in America – anything that has been expanded over the past four or five years, it was a Build America bond or lifting the cap on private activity bond that did.  Even now, when you go through what they’ve done with municipal finance here, they shaved back the exemption on municipal bonds and they’re not going to be as attractive as they once were.  So I can’t wait until mayors and others take a look at this information.  

Leader Pelosi.  If I just may say on the whole – because the Leader [Schumer] talked about the deficit and that has been a big problem.  Many Americans just want to know what it means to them in their lives and its bad news.  

But in terms of our country and our responsibility, the increase in the national debt is huge in the ten-year period, but in the out years, it hemorrhages money.  It’s a hemorrhaging bill and those of you who care about deficits – supposedly we have deficit hawks in the Congress although, as I’ve said before, they’re becoming an endangered species – if they care, they have to know the first ten years then the second ten years, they’re very detrimental, there is almost no turning back from what they want to do.  We have to stop them now. 

[Pelosi departs] 

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