News from Representative Heck

   




This week I voted NO on the irresponsible, deficit-exploding tax scam.

When Congress began discussing tax reform earlier this year, I was optimistic about the possibility of meaningful change and bipartisan consensus. There is no question we need to simplify the individual and corporate tax codes by closing deductions and loopholes. These gaps in our tax code may be good for the wealthy and the large corporations who have dedicated experts to do their taxes, but for most families, these loopholes and deductions do not provide tax relief they need and deserve.

Unfortunately, the bill that came up for a vote this week in the House is not tax reform; it is a government payout to the wealthy. Tax reform is difficult because it is budget-neutral, and for every give (usually lower rates), there is a take (usually closing loopholes). That process means some changes are welcomed by those who benefit while strongly opposed by others who may be negatively affected. The authors of this bill set out to do tax reform, but the hard choices were too tough. Instead of closing loopholes, this bill finances its tax cuts by borrowing $1.7 trillion.

I object to that approach on two grounds: deficits and fairness. This tax plan explodes the deficit while being radically unfair to middle class families. Although the budget deficit shrank by 70 percent from 2009 to 2015, it is now growing again, and this bill radically accelerates that growth at an unsustainable rate. If we are going to borrow $1.7 trillion, why not give each American taxpayer their fair share of $5000 each? Instead, this bill leaves half of working families with little or nothing while giving 83 percent of the tax cuts to the top one percent of income earners. This is Robin Hood in reverse.

Experts are still working to understand and model the economic impact of this law, so I’m sure that there will be more revelations in the weeks to come, but there are already more than enough reasons to reject this approach. This bill also:

  • forces $25 billion in annual cuts to Medicare because it violates the “pay-as-you-go” budget neutrality law that governs major legislation;
     
  • eliminates tax benefits for the working and middle-class taxpayers after a few short years, even though tax breaks for the largest corporations are made permanent;
     
  • repeals important provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which could result in 13 million fewer Americans having health care coverage and put Americans with pre-existing conditions at risk of losing their health care due to skyrocketing health insurance premiums (like what happened in our state in 1993); and
     
  • opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

Last month, I sent out a survey to request your priorities for any tax reform effort. Your input indicates you share my serious concerns with this bill. The top three priorities were protecting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, ensuring the top one percent of income earners pay their fair share, and providing tax relief for the middle class. After reviewing this proposal, 90 percent of people in our district surveyed do not have their highest priorities included in this "historic" tax overhaul.

Congress could have tackled tax reform in a bipartisan manner and delivered on the promise of tax relief for the middle class and those working hard to reach the middle class. But the Republican majority decided to instead conduct their own negotiations behind closed doors and pass this bill with only Republican support. There is clearly an opportunity being missed here. 

In the short time I’ve had the privilege to represent you in Congress, I’ve worked hard not to give in to the all-too-common tendency of resorting to hyperbole. It is therefore with measured thought that I write that I believe this is the worst bill I’ve voted on since coming to Congress. I ask you to join me in continuing the effort to enact a tax system that is fair and helps America become better and stronger.

  Sincerely,

Denny Heck
Your Member of Congress


 


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