Schumer Floor Remarks on President Trump’s Trip to Asia and the Senate Republican Tax Plan

November 13, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding President Trump’s trip to Asia and the Senate Republican tax plan. You can view Senator Schumer’s remarks here. Below are his remarks:

Thank you, Madam President, I would like to spend the bulk of my time this afternoon focusing on the Republican tax plan, but first I must address President Trump’s trip to Asia.

Without exaggeration, the President’s trip to Asia has been one of the most embarrassing foreign trips a president has taken in my memory. It shows that when it comes to foreign policy, President Trump is not ready for primetime.

After a campaign in which he routinely criticized China, rightly in my opinion, for rapacious trading practices that have stolen American jobs and depressed American wages, President Trump went to China and gave them a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Instead of speaking sternly and truthfully to the Chinese leaders about the realities of our imbalanced and unfair trade system, where we play by the rules, and they do not - we lose jobs, they gain them - President Trump tried to appease the Chinese and their leader.

Instead of demanding concessions on trade; instead of demanding the same equal access to markets we provide to Chinese firms; instead of addressing the sordid history of intellectual property theft and extortion; President Trump was eager to let China off the hook – to say it was “not their fault,” but rather the failure of American presidents. Imagine – blaming America for the Chinese trade imbalance and letting China get off scot free. Is that putting America first?

President Xi flattered President Trump and he fell for it, hook, line and sinker. From each of his interactions with President Xi, President Trump has only gotten flattery, pomp and circumstance – nothing for the American worker. Nothing.

If he keeps this approach up with a growing economic power like China, President Trump will be the author of a new international reality: America Second.

Concerning the situation on the Korean peninsula: instead of working towards a new meaningful understanding of how best to deal with North Korea, President Trump traded petty barbs with the President of North Korea on Twitter. (Close your eyes for a moment and imagine if this was the way that Roosevelt behaved towards Stalin; or Eisenhower towards Kruschev; or Kennedy towards Castro. This is below the dignity of Office of President of the United States, and it erodes America power in the world.)

And worst of all, again President Trump seemed to instinctively accept the word of President Putin over the judgment of 17 U.S. Intelligence Agencies about whether Russia interfered in our election. We know that Russia interfered in our elections. Our entire intelligence community - 17 agencies - has concluded it. Why does President Trump continue to give President Putin the benefit of the doubt while discrediting and demeaning American intelligence officers?

It’s shameful and unpatriotic, deeply unpatriotic. And he only halfheartedly walked back his comments after the fact.

Every American should wonder why President Trump goes to such great lengths to avoid criticizing President Putin.

After eight years of Republicans questioning President Obama’s toughness with foreign leaders – an attack that I give no credence to by repeating – it seems that President Trump, not President Obama, is the one who’s afraid to take on America’s adversaries.

He forgives China and cozies up to President Putin.

For the steelworker in Ohio or upstate New York, whose job is on the line because China is dumping cheap steel and aluminum into our markets, that’s not good enough.  For every American concerned about the sanctity of our elections, that’s not good enough.

When it comes to standing up for the needs of the American worker, for American firms and American consumers; when it comes to standing up for American democracy -- this president needs to wake up and toughen up.

Now, on taxes.

Today, the Finance Committee will begin to mark up the Senate Republican tax plan.

The bill put forward by the Chairman will not contain the ideas of a single Democrat here in the Senate. It is the result of not a single negotiation between our two parties. It has been discussed in exactly zero hearings, its merits weighed by exactly zero expert witnesses.

Rather, the tax bill is the result of one party’s backroom deliberations, and though it will affect nearly every person and industry in this country, it is being rushed through Committee and may come to the floor of the Senate in a manner of weeks.

The Republican leadership is making a mockery of the legislative process; a mockery of regular order.    

And the reason for such reckless haste is all too obvious: the product is a wretched one.

If Republicans had crafted a popular bill that could get bipartisan support, they would have announced it with great fanfare and fanned out all across the country to champion it.

Instead, it’s being rushed through, hardly any consideration, because my Republican friends know from their experience with healthcare that the longer an unpopular idea is left out in the open, the more it will fester in in the public’s mind.

That’s what will happen with this tax bill, because of one, simple reason: it is focused on the wealthy to the exclusion of the middle class.

While big corporations and wealthy individuals get lower rates and new, permanent loopholes, the middle class gets benefits that expire. Corporations will continue to be able to deduct their state and local taxes while individual taxpayers will not. Wealthy estates worth over $5 million are ensured a massive tax break while millions of middle-class families lose popular deductions like the personal exemption.

That’s why, according to an analysis by the NY Times, under the House Republican bill, nearly a third of all middle-class taxpayers will see a tax hike next year. Let me repeat that, under the House Republican bill, nearly a third of all middle-class taxpayers will see a tax hike next year and almost half of all middle-class taxpayers will see a tax hike in 10 years.

And, according to a JCT analysis of the Senate Republican bill, of all taxpayers making less than $200,000 a year, 13 million taxpayers will see a tax hike in 2019 and nearly 20 million taxpayers will see a tax hike by 2027. Another 64 million Americans making under $200k a year will see next to no change in their taxes.

Meanwhile, nearly everyone at the very top, at the top 1%, will see a tax cut of tens of thousands of dollars. 100 times more money would to go a family earning $1 million a year as a family making between $40,000 and $50,000.

Now let me ask you, Madam President, who needs the tax break more? The family making $50,000 or the family making $1 million? God bless the wealthy -- so many of them have worked hard and achieved great wealth. Good. But they don’t need a tax break! Middle-class people do!

Now, President Trump is suggesting that Republicans tip the scales even more in favor of the rich by repealing the individual mandate to pay for more tax cuts for the rich!

Here is what he tweeted – I found this hard to believe, how out of touch can the President be with the American people – here is what he said:  “how about ending the unfair & highly unpopular Individual Mandate & reducing taxes even further? Cut top rate to 35% w/all of the rest going to middle-income cuts?”

What does this proposal do?                      

It would send premiums - healthcare premiums - for millions of middle-class Americans skyrocketing, all so that the wealthy – the top bracket - can get an even bigger tax break than what they’d get under the original Republican plan. The middle class only gets the leftovers, if there are any at all.

Sooner or later, Madam President, sooner or later even President Trump’s core supporters will realize that he’s selling them out.

That’s why most polls show that less than a third of Americans support the Republican tax plan and a majority actually oppose it. That’s an astounding fact. Tax cuts are historically popular. Somehow, Republicans have managed to make a tax cut bill politically unpopular. Again, for a straightforward reason: on balance, the tax cut is for big corporations and a tiny group of wealthy Americans while many millions in the middle class pay more to help finance it. To make tax cuts unpopular is quite a feat, I would urge my Republican colleagues not to fall for the bait.

There is broad agreement on the goals of tax reform between our two parties. We all want to lower middle-class taxes. We all want to reduce the burden on small businesses and encourage companies to locate jobs here in the United States instead of shipping them overseas. We could put together a bill that does those things. This bill doesn’t.

I know that many of my Republican colleagues are concerned about the deficit; they’re worried about the one-party legislative ramrodding that is eroding the grand traditions of this body, and they’re afraid of passing a tax bill that raises taxes on millions of working Americans in their states. So I say to them, I say to my Republican friends:  hit the brakes on this bill and come back to the table. We can work on real, bipartisan tax reform that delivers middle-class tax relief, but only if you defeat this bill first.