Neal Opening Statement at Markup of the Republican Tax Plan
(As prepared for delivery)
Thank you, Chairman Brady.
I believe the bill before us today is a bad deal for millions of Americans, particularly those in the Middle Class. The legislation, which was crafted solely by the majority party behind closed doors and which was not made public until late last week, puts the wealthy and well-connected first, while forcing millions of American families to watch as their taxes go up. That’s simply not what the American people asked us to do and it is not something that the Democrats on this Committee can support.
In 2001, Republicans cut taxes by $1.3 trillion; in 2003, by $1 trillion; and in 2005, there was the repatriation tax holiday. Each time, they promised job growth. However, they took us to the casino each time without a win, so why do you think we’ll have a win with this proposal? Maybe not. We have a million new veterans we need to care for and our military is committed around the world. We can’t afford another gamble.
Since my first day as Ranking Member of this committee, I have called on my colleagues to come together to work on real reform for real people. I agree with my Republican colleagues that our tax system is too complicated, contains far too many loopholes and holds back American businesses competing in the global economy.
However, I do not agree that in enacting tax reform we should be giving even more benefits to the well-off and well-connected with the hopes that it might trickle down. There is not a single, respected economist in this country that will argue that tax cuts pay for themselves. History has proven it just doesn’t work.
The last time the House worked on successful tax reform, the process was very different. The tax reform bill in 1986 was written in a bipartisan manner from start to finish; unfolded over years, with countless opportunities to examine the legislation and make changes. That included 30 hearings on the bill and testimony from over 450 people. And the markup lasted 26 days.
This is a missed opportunity. I truly believe that if instead of the closed process the Republicans used in developing this legislation, we instead worked together on a bipartisan basis, which included an open debate, we could have developed a bill that was better for our economy, American businesses and middle-class families.
There are things that everyone on this dais can agree on: the corporate rate is too high and we need to help make American businesses more competitive against their foreign competitors. We need a tax code that is far less complex. And we need a tax system that encourages innovation and growth. That, Mr. Chairman, could have been the starting point for good-faith bipartisan negotiations.
The Middle Class in this country are struggling. For years, they’ve watched as their wages remained stagnate and as their hours were cut. It was my hope that in passing tax reform we might take those Americans, who feel forgotten and left behind, into consideration and build a tax code founded on fairness. This bill simply does not do that.
The legislation that we are marking up today lets the American people down at every step of their life-- from birth through retirement. It fails to provide the needed improvements to the tax code that could assist the hopeful young family trying to keep their head above water; the student trying to do the right thing by getting an education; and the factory worker at the end of a long career just hoping to have enough left over to retire with dignity.
Democrats believe that instead of pulling down the ladder of opportunity for those in the middle-class, and the millions who aspire to it, we should be expanding it to make sure that everyone has a fair shot.
Republicans have produced a deeply flawed bill that will hurt the teacher who spends his own money to buy school supplies for their students; the young parents who want to know the joy of adopting a child; students trying to responsibly pay back their student loans; the wife trying to afford her husband’s Alzheimer’s care; and the janitor who wants to retire with dignity so he can spoil his grandchildren. And let me remind my colleagues, the Republicans considered going after retirement savings to make their proposal work as well – and if this doesn’t work, we’ll likely be back there again.
Another worry I have is the impact this bill may have on our housing market. The bill scales back the tax benefit of buying a new home, which will inevitably lower home values. It also eliminates the new markets tax credit, advance refunding and private activity bonds – an issue by the way, that I have championed for years, which are key for financing affordable housing. That’s why groups like the National Association of Home Builders oppose this bill.
We can no longer accept status quo in Washington. The American Family should not be forced to continue watching as the rich get richer and they fall further and further behind. Our country cannot afford to only care about deficits and debt when Democrats are in the Oval office. We must break this cycle. Mr. Chairman, I believe it’s time that we set this bill aside and start again, this time in a bipartisan manner, on a new approach to tax reform that provides real reform to real people and gets our economy moving again.
With that I yield back.