Schumer Floor Remarks on GOP Tax Bill and End of Year Priorities

December 20, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the GOP tax bill and end of year negotiations.  Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

Mr. President, late last night, the Senate passed an awful, partisan rewrite of the tax code.                                                          

I said a good deal about the bill over the course of the debate and I added my concluding thoughts into the record before the final vote.

But let me just reiterate one point: the Republican tax bill will cement the Republican Party as the party of the wealthy and the party of corporations, against the middle class and the working people of this country.

Corporations get permanent tax breaks, the individual tax breaks expire. By 2027, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, 83% of the middle class – almost 145 million American families – will either get a tax increase or a tax cut of less than $100.

Meanwhile, according to the Tax Policy Center, the top 1% of earners in our country will reap 83% of the benefits of the tax plan. Let’s say that again. Middle class, 83% either get an increase or a tax break of less than $100. Top 1%, the wealthiest, get 83% of the benefits. Middle-class America is asking something: ‘why does the top get far more than I do? Why do I get a tax increase, when so many of them get a huge decrease?’

And to boot, millions of middle-class Americans will now go without health insurance and millions more will see their premiums rise. At the same time, multinational corporations and wealthy hedge fund managers will enjoy a massive tax break.

To repeat: the legacy of this bill will be to the cement the Republican Party as the party of the rich and powerful, against the middle class.

We Democrats have been saying this for years, but our Republican colleagues with this tax bill have done us a major favor. Even their Republican supporters are realizing where the Senate Republicans and House Republicans are: on the side of the most wealthy, on the side of the big, powerful corporations, not on the side of the middle class.

Whenever we’ve had a Republican President and Republican Congress, we get the same thing: a program of tax cuts for the rich, higher deficits and debt, and then threats to Social Security and Medicare. That’s what happened under President Bush, and we’re seeing the same exact playbook today.

There is nothing about this tax bill that’s suited to the needs of the American worker or the American economy. My Republican friends would propose it in a booming economy or a recession, whether we have surpluses or deficits. No matter what, it seems, according to our Republican friends, tax cuts for the rich and corporations are the answer to our problems. The benefits will trickle down like magic to the rest of us.

Trickle-down: that’s the entire philosophy of this tax bill. Trickle-down. When they say they are helping the middle class, when they say they are creating jobs, it’s because the wealthy get money, and in their belief, will create jobs. It hasn’t happened. It hasn’t happened. Corporate America has more money than ever before. The stock market is higher than ever before. Job creation isn’t.

That’s where this bill is at.

Trickle-down has been widely discredited as an economic theory, and it’s been discredited by recent history. It will be discredited once again.

Our Republican colleagues are clinging, they are saying ‘this bill is so unpopular, but don’t worry, once the economy takes off, once people see hundreds of dollars in their pockets, they’ll change their minds.’ The economy is not going to take off. The wealthy will do better, there will be a lot of dividends, there will be a lot of stock buybacks, not too much job creation.

AT&T - big American company, fine American company – their tax rate over the last 10 years was a mere 8%, and they cut 80,000 jobs. That one statistic belies all this trickle-down bunk that our Republican colleagues still cling to even though it’s outdated and disproven.

And the American people will have the chance in 2018 to reject this philosophy, and move our country in a dramatically different direction – back towards a government that works to lift up the middle class rather than one that gives more to those who already have so much.

From now until then, Democrats will focus like a laser on making things better for working Americans and middle-class Americans. The contrast with Republicans – particularly this tax bill, which so benefits the wealthy and powerful – could not be clearer.

Now end of year. As a result of the Republican effort to jam their tax bill through this year, we now have precious little time left to keep the government open and solve a legion of pressing issues.

We still have not reached a budget deal to lift the spending caps equally for both defense and urgent domestic priorities, like funding to combat the opioid crisis, improve veteran’s health care, and building rural infrastructure. We have not reached a deal to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program and community health centers or extend the 702 FISA Court program.                          

And two major sticking points remain in the form of the disaster supplemental, which still does not fairly treat Puerto Rico, California and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as Florida, Texas, and Louisiana, and the Dreamers, who we have a moral imperative to protect.                     

These are kids who were brought here very young, through no fault of their own, many of whom know of no other country but ours. They learn in our schools, work at our companies, serve in our military, and want to be Americans more than anything in the world. They ARE Americans in every single important way but one, they lack the paperwork. We have to solve this problem.

We’ve been negotiating with our Republican counterparts for weeks in search of a deal to pair DACA protections with reasonable border security – something Democrats have always believed in, as the comprehensive immigration bill that we passed in the Senate shows. I hope now that the tax bill is behind them, my Republican colleagues are finally willing to reach an agreement. But because of the particular importance of all of these issues, especially the Dreamers, we cannot do a short-term funding bill that picks and chooses what problems to solve and what not to solve. That will not be fair and will not pass. We have to do them all together, instead of in a piecemeal fashion.

Whether that global deal comes before the week is out or at a later date in January, it has to be a truly global deal. We can’t leave any of those issues behind. Our Republican colleagues on tax and healthcare have decided not to work with us. In this case they have to work with us, and working with us means we sit down around the table and decide there are some things you want, some things we want, let’s compromise and get it done. Not just picking and choosing what you want to get done and telling us to do it. That won’t work this time.

I can assure my friend the Majority Leader that my caucus will be working in good faith with his caucus – as long as they choose to work with us - and our colleagues in the House to reach that deal as soon as possible.