Schumer Floor Remarks on the GOP Tax Plan and Protecting Dreamers

November 16, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding both Senate and House Republicans’ dangerous tax plans as well as the need to protect Dreamers. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

As the Senate Finance Committee continues its markup of the Senate Republican tax bill, the House will take a vote this afternoon on their version of the bill.

There are plenty of reasons for House Republicans to vote against this bill. For those who care about deficits, you should vote no because this bill increases deficits by over $1.5 trillion, likely more. Any deficit hawk should be against such an increase.

Any defense hawk should be wary of this bill for the same reason. High deficits make it harder to fund important priorities like the military. This morning, three former Defense Secretaries – Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel, and Ash Carter – penned a letter warning that the Republican tax plan could result in, their words, a “hollowed out military force” wracked by cuts to training, maintenance, flight missions and other vital military programs.

I spoke to General Mattis yesterday. He is deathly afraid of a CR, because a CR is at sequestration levels. If we pass this tax bill with its huge deficit, we will have no choice but to go back to sequestration, and the fears of our defense leaders, that they cannot fund the military adequately, will be very real. So my shout out is to all of those who care about defense and particularly our defense hawks. If you vote for this bill, you’re going to be voting for a hollowed out military force, as three former Defense Secretaries have written us this morning.

And for those House Republicans that represent middle- and upper-middle-class, suburban districts, you should vote no because this bill will raise taxes on a high number of your constituents. Congress members from New York, New Jersey, Washington, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Virginia know that the state and local deductibility is crucial to working families in their districts. Today, House Republicans in many districts will take a vote to raise taxes on their constituents.

And the compromise? The first three quarters of the break is rescinded even with the compromise over in the House, but second, the Senate, so desperate for money, has not even included the compromise here. You can be sure when it comes back, that compromise will not be in the bill. Certainly not as generous as it is now, and it’s not very generous to begin with.

According to the New York Times, the House bill would raise taxes on nearly a third of all middle-class taxpayers next year, and almost half by 2027. The rich, meanwhile, would do just fine.

The Senate bill, similarly, would raise taxes on nearly 20 million middle-class Americans by 2027. Meanwhile, folks making over a $1 million a year will get an average tax cut of $50,000. People say, “Well, they have more money, they should get a bigger tax cut.” No, the wealthy are doing great. They don’t need any tax cut. Give the money to the middle class.

The number of middle-class families who would lose money from this bill may be even higher now considering the 10% increase in premiums that will occur as a result of the Republican plan to repeal the individual mandate. That 10% increase in health care premiums could more than wipe out the tax cuts received by some folks in the middle, all while 13 million fewer Americans get health insurance.

My friend Senator Graham recently said: “I hope every Republican knows that when you pass a repeal of the individual mandate…[healthcare] becomes your problem.” Lindsey Graham is very politically prescient. He is telling his Republican colleagues, if they do this, every problem in healthcare will be on their backs.

The whole idea of taking money from the pockets of hardworking Americans, of taking money out of their healthcare, and giving it to big corporations and those at the very top is so backward, so wrong – that the American people will reject it. And the blame will fall on the Republicans shoulders.

If the Republican tax bill should pass, it would make our economy, so unfairly tilted towards the top as it already is, even more unbalanced and more unfair.

Overall, the past three decades, as technology has changed our economy and our world has become ever more interdependent, our economy has grown. Yes, it’s grown, there’s a lot of growth. But that growth, more than any other time in history, has been captured almost entirely by big corporations and the top 1% and particularly the top 0.1% of our country. We don’t begrudge them. We’re glad people work hard. People with new ideas, hard work, should become wealthy. But they don’t need a tax break.

At the same time, middle-class families have muddled along. Median income has barely nudged up in 3 decades. The costs of college, health care, prescription drugs, cable, and internet have skyrocketed as corporations have consolidated in their industries, reducing competition and driving up prices.

For the middle-class family in the suburbs, for the working parent in the city, for the young millennials just setting off into the workforce after college, for the single mom raising two children, it’s about as hard as ever to balance your income with ever-rising costs.

In such an economy, tax reform could really matter to those folks, but only if it’s done right. Instead of focusing all of their efforts on improving the conditions of those working Americans, Republicans have directed the lion’s share of the benefits to the already wealthy and the already powerful -- Corporate America and the very rich.

There perhaps no better example than President Trump and his family, for whom this bill would be an express mail gift from heaven. Repealing the estate tax. They’ve got a big one. Repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax. The Trumps pay a lot of Alternative Minimum Tax. Dropping the rate on pass-through entities, like the Trump Organization, a huge tax break for Donald Trump. Scrapping middle-class deductions while maintaining loopholes for real estate businesses and golf course owners. Who do you think came up with this plan? Not the average middle-class guy or gal. All of these things contained in the House Republican bill would likely pile more on top of President Trump’s fortune, while millions and millions of middle-class families end up paying more.

I’m not sure any family in America feels that its right to subsidize a tax cut for folks like President Trump and his family, and their voices will be heard during the debate on this bill and afterwards. This bill will be a huge burden for Republicans to carry on their backs over the next year, make no mistake about it. So we hope they will vote down the bill in the House and in the Senate. And I want to assure my friends here in the Senate on the other side of the aisle, if the bill goes down. Democrats are ready, willing, able, and eager to work with Republicans on bipartisan reform.

Before I yield the floor, seeing my friend Senator Durbin here, I’d like to address one final issue – the Dreamers.

My dear friend Senator Durbin has an uncommon eloquence. He speaks with eloquence and yet Midwestern common sense. He speaks with persuasiveness and ease on a great number of subjects. He is a great asset to our Democratic Caucus and the Senate as a whole. But there is no doubt that the Dreamers are near and dear to his heart, as he is one of the chief architects of DACA and has labored on their behalf for as long as I can remember. Every Dreamer should thank Senator Durbin; he is their sponsor, their champion, and their staunchest advocate.

This morning, I’d like to join him in recognizing the contributions of a Dreamer in my state – a reminder of the glaring need to pass the Dream Act since President Trump so misguidedly terminated the program a few months ago.

Zuleima Dominguez is a DACA recipient who lives in the Bronx. Zuleima was brought to the United States when she was only seven years old from Mexico. She’s grown up in the United States. Gone to school in the United States. Went to her first dance in the United States. She knows no other country as her home.

And now, like so many other Americans, Zuleima is working her way through college – Hunter College, part of City University, on the Upper East Side. But because of her legal status, she has been unable to access enough help to afford her tuition. So what does Zuleima do? She works 45 hours a week at a homeless shelter – giving back to her fellow New Yorkers -- while saving up for her next semester. She’s studying to be a social worker.

Isn’t Zuleima what we’d hope an American citizen would be like? Wouldn’t we all be proud to call her our neighbor, our friend, or our daughter? Someone who works hard and feels a calling to give back to her community.

Zuleima has that quintessential American spirit, as have had millions who have come to this country before her through the centuries. She is part of that long and grand tradition of immigration in this country; of folks coming here from all over to world to find a better life, building strong families and communities and making indelible contributions to our society, our economy, and our culture. Zuleima and her two children are a part of that tradition; they, with all of us, are what makes America great.

And there are many more Dreamers just like Zuleima, who came to this country through no fault of their own, as very young kids. They study in our schools. They work at our companies. They serve in our military. They are American in every single way but one – their paperwork.

We must fix that, now and forever, by passing the Dream Act through Congress and giving folks like Zuleima and her kids a chance to live and thrive in the only country they’ve ever known. I know my entire caucus supports the bill. I know many of my friends on the other side support it as well. So what are we waiting for? Let’s put the bill on the floor and pass it!