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Congressman Richard Neal

Representing the 1st District of Massachusetts

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Ranking Member Neal Presents Closing Remarks During the House GOP Tax Bill Markup in the Ways and Means Committee

November 9, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal today delivered the following remarks at the Ways and Means Committee Markup in opposition to H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

(Remarks as delivered)

“Mr. Chairman. I think that we can conclude, as we've attempted to address the financial infrastructure of the country, that this process at best has been inartful, and at worst indefensible. After four days, not one democratic amendment has passed. When you look at H.R. 1, it contributes to complexity after having been advertised as the avenue to simplicity. It's harmful to the homeowner, it's harmful to the homebuilder. It's harmful of the municipal investor and those that are willing to take risks. It adds 2.3 trillion to the national debt -- $2.3 trillion to the national debt. We've had this argument now for days about how it is guaranteed that this will put us north of 3% growth. Guaranteed.

“We could have used this time for the following purpose. To discuss simplicity. To discuss investment. And not just investment in finance, but investment in human capital. Which is the surest path to address the labor participation rate in America today. One of the challenges that we face is the following. Technology has changed the workplace. Skill set has changed the workplace. Two million men and women in America have an opiate drug addiction, who are home playing video games in the afternoon rather than in the workplace. Coupled with the fact the opportunity existed for us to talk about an investment in community colleges, an investment for internship programs, and for all of us in this room today and viewing, an investment in vocational education to address the job shortfall in America, which the department of labor this week said was north of six million available jobs. Eighteen-thousand precision manufacturing jobs in New England go unanswered every single day. One million tech jobs across the country go unanswered every single day.

“Instead we came to a conclusion and then went out to seek the documentation. The changes occurred every day in this proposal and shift largely based upon news accounts. Every time there was a story that said the Republican majority's numbers didn't add up, they ran back to make adjustments in the numbers. Not in the policy. So we're being told that we can borrow $1.5 trillion based upon the premise that maybe it will generate 3% growth over the next decade. What happens if that doesn't occur? You cannot find many mainstream economists in America that say we're going north of 2.1% or 2.2% and arguably they say it will occur likely in the first year or so and then we are going to revert to the numbers that I spoke of earlier.

“And not to miss the following, Mr. Chairman: this is about long-term demographic trends in America as well. We've got to address that issue of immigration reform and tie it to the whole notion of job growth and investment in the workplace. We had an opportunity to do. I’m pained that we could highlight - as we attempted to do the genius of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and then rush this through. Even though it was done in daylight. It's still rushed through.

“We gave some thoughtful commentary and pretty good amendments on our side and we wanted to fully participate and despite what some have said on the other side, I can guarantee you this: after 25 years on this Committee, I did not start from the premise that we should try to kill this bill. I looked at a tax system in America that is inefficient and underproductive. Yes, there is a legitimate argument about international competition that the country needs to address. So all of the good ideas and notions and thoughts that we had on our side were dismissed. I have never participated in a markup in all these years in the house where I was told more that there was a genuine affection for me. I was highly regarded. They really loved my amendment. They thought it could be considered. But we're not going vote for it. And the trouble with that is that that dismisses again what we could have done on so many of these amendments, some of which are really helpful.

“As support begins to peel off, let me predict what's going to happen. We saw these changes over these four days. Arbitrary changes in fact. And now I can tell you as a student of the institution where we're going. Members will be asked to walk the plank on the Republican side. And they're going to be told, oh, this will be changed in the Rules Committee. And then when it comes to the Floor they're going to to be told, oh, if we could just pass this it will be reconciled when we work with the Senate. I've seen a summary what have the Senate has done. There's going to be some substantial changes after this bill passes the House.

“So for those members who have thought that they were going to be done with issue today, when we conclude this vote, it's coming back. You can't do what we're doing to harm the middle class in America, all for the purpose of concentrating greater wealth at the very top. And you can't disguise it, you can't have analysis of it, and you can't do it with just talking points. I wish this could have been done differently. I think this is an opportunity missed.”

A clip of this speech can be found here.

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