Floor Statement Opposing GOP Tax Rewrite for the Wealthy

Aug 2, 2012

Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today made the following statement on the House floor urging opposition to the House Republican tax rewrite bill, which would ram through huge tax cuts for the very wealthy at the expense of middle class families:

Yesterday, Republicans voted to put tax cuts for millionaires as their priority over giving 114 million middle class Americans certainty. Today, they are doubling down on that agenda. The so-called principles laid out in this bill would rig tax reform to shift the burden of taxes further onto the middle class and ship jobs overseas. 

The Joint Economic Committee analysis of this plan (Washington Post graphic here) found that the average millionaire would get another $331,000 in tax cuts, while middle class families making less than $200,000 would see their taxes go up by an average of $4,500. Why?  Because the only way to finance these massive tax cuts for the highest earners is to eliminate or significantly curtail provisions that support the middle class. These are not loopholes, these are policies that in many cases make the middle class in this country.

Seventy percent of the benefit of the mortgage interest deduction goes to those makes less than $200,000. Eight-two percent of the benefit of the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance goes to those making less than $200,000. And likewise the provisions relating to education. Republicans like to say they will eliminate loopholes and special interest provisions to pay for lower rates.  

But the provisions I mentioned are not loopholes – they are policies that helped to build the middle class of America.  Now they are on the chopping block under this plan. 

H.R. 6169 is Grover Norquist on steroids.

We need tax reform. But not as a tactic to sock it to the middle class and help the very wealthy. Yet that’s exactly what Republicans in Congress want to do. And now we have received recently an analysis of the plan offered by Gov. Romney. A report from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center yesterday made no bones about what the Romney plan would do to the middle class. They wrote that it is not mathematically possible to write a plan like the one drafted by Gov. Romney “that does not result in a net tax cut for high-income taxpayers and a net tax increase for lower- and/or middle-income taxpayers.”

The House Republican plan to lower the corporate rate to 25 percent would require eliminating every provision that encourages American manufacturing – the R&D credit, accelerated depreciation, the manufacturing deduction. Everyone one of those. And the Joint Committee on Taxation has found that even if you eliminated everything, you could only lower the rate to 28 percent on a revenue neutral basis.  

We need tax reform, indeed we do, but not a tax rewrite that discourages companies from Making it in America and that move us to a territorial system that taxes no businesses’ offshore income, thereby helping to ship jobs overseas. Surely a plan this radical should be subject to the full scrutiny of regular order and full debate? But not under this bill.  Under this bill, the pathway Republicans are setting up is really a railroad to shift the tax burden onto the middle class and shipping jobs overseas.  

It creates a tax czar who both creates the plan, then certifies that it achieves his goals.  It allows him or her to add any other proposal to this high-speed train through Congress – Social Security privatization, repeal of health reform, anything. We should reject that path and adopt the Slaughter substitute, which would articulate principles for tax reform that would strengthen the middle class, create jobs in the United States and reduce the deficit.