By Tom Udall Press Office
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tom Udall released the following statement after voting against President Trump and the Republicans’ tax plan. Earlier in the evening, Udall spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the bill, and his speech can be viewed here.
“The Trump-Republican tax bill will line the pockets of President Trump, his family, and the GOP’s billionaire donors. It will be a boon for the multinational corporations that have spent years shipping jobs overseas. But for working New Mexicans and for the rest of the country, this bill will be an utter disaster.
“In order to give the richest Americans a massive tax break, Republicans have voted to leave 13 million Americans without health care and send premiums across the country skyrocketing. Meanwhile, the Trump-Republican bill explodes the deficit by a whopping $1.5 trillion – debt that will mean tax increases on most Americans down the road in the form of Republican cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and other priorities. I want to support tax cuts for middle class families, and I want to help make sure working people can take home more of their pay. But I also want to make sure we can pay for roads and bridges, schools, scientific research and national defense and take care of our nation’s most vulnerable.
“The Trump-Republican tax bill does nothing for working families in New Mexico. This bill wasn’t written for those working families. It was written to benefit the most fortunate in our country – at the expense of everyone else.”
The following is the full text of Udall’s remarks on the Trump-Republican tax bill, as prepared for delivery.
Mr. President. Working families in New Mexico want good jobs and fair wages. They want affordable health care and retirement security. They want job and educational opportunities for their children.
But, Mr. President, the Republicans’ latest tax plan does nothing for regular families in New Mexico or across the country. It won’t create good paying jobs – not now or for our children. It will kick 13 million people off health care and raise insurance premiums. Their plan threatens Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. And it does nothing to improve public education or bring down the high costs of college.
The Republican tax plan overwhelmingly benefits the rich – by giving huge tax breaks to their campaign donors – to the super wealthy, big corporations, multinational businesses, and hedge funds.
But the biggest problem is that the Republican plan will drive up the debt by $1.5 trillion, and that means they will have to take a hatchet to programs that working families rely on.
This is not a responsible or fair tax plan. It’s a hocus-pocus tax sham. And I oppose it.
The Senate and House majority are pushing this tax scam as fast as they can to try to hide it from the American people. We have not had proper hearings. We have not heard from expert witnesses or had adequate independent analysis. Even the Republicans don’t know what’s in it. My office has met with many New Mexicans raising red flags on the unintended consequences of this bill. No member of Congress – not Democrats or Republicans – has had enough time to digest and understand this plan.
When it comes to legislation this consequential to the American people, we must follow regular order. We must see a full analysis by the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation.
We must hear from the best tax experts in the country. The American people must understand the plan. Heck. Every member of Congress must fully understand the plan.
Republicans and the president are not being straight about what this plan will mean for the average American. They aren’t talking about how it will affect the president’s own personal taxes. He touts it as a tax cut for middle class and working Americans – but not one single objective analysis says it’s designed to help the middle class. And his Treasury Department’s one-page so-called “analysis” – predicting a $300 billion surplus — is built on unrealistic growth assumptions that no serious economist accepts.
Even Republicans have said the bill is about helping their donors – and cutting taxes for corporations.
The American people are not blind. They aren’t fooled by the administration’s fake numbers, and they oppose this plan.
Quinnipiac University’s December 13 poll shows that 55 percent of Americans disapprove of the bill. Sixty-five percent say the wealthy benefit the most. Other reputable polling shows the same.
Let’s look at some cold, hard numbers. First, we know that the Republicans propose adding $1.5 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years.
This chart shows the difference between the federal deficit under current law and the massive increase in the deficit under the Senate Republicans’ plan. Current law is in blue, and the Republicans’ plan is in red. This is dramatic.
Republicans represent themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility. But incurring this amount of debt – to give tax breaks to the rich – is patently irresponsible.
To pay for this debt, the government will have to borrow – by selling Treasury bills, notes, bonds, securities, and savings bonds. Based off estimates from JCT and CBO, the government’s cost to borrow to pay for this debt will be over $40 billion over the next 10 years. And even more after that unless we pay off the debt.
The American people will be on the hook for $1.5 trillion. That’s $12,742 for each and every American household today. My colleagues have come to the floor saying this will provide an average tax cut of around $2,000 for one year in 2019. What they aren’t telling you is that they are also opening a line of credit on you and your family of $12,000.
This is the new federal debt that would be taken out in every American’s name every year by the GOP.
So much additional borrowing by the federal government can also drive up interest rates. Higher interest rates mean higher costs for the government to borrow.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that if interest rates are 1 percent higher annually than projected, through 2027, the debt will be $1.7 trillion higher. That’s 6 percent of gross domestic product. And the amount each American owes on their new forced federal credit card would go up even more.
Increased interest rates have real consequences for the average American. A rise in rates can price out a first time homebuyer. It can determine whether a young person can afford to buy a car. The average American consumer does not want to see interest rates go up.
And increased government borrowing and interest rates can take up the economy’s lending capacity — and discourage the very private investment the Republicans say they want to encourage.
Giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy also will force massive cuts in revenue coming into the federal government. When I first arrived in the Senate, Senator Kent Conrad from North Dakota was Chair of the Budget Committee. He was a master of the federal budget. And he understood the danger of racking up huge deficits. In 2011, the Budget Committee was concerned that the debt threatened the nation’s security.
The committee majority developed a budget framework that Senator Conrad presented on the floor that July.
He showed us many charts that day. One showed that the government had had a budget surplus for only five of the last 50 years. That was in 1969, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. In those years, revenues were close to 20 percent of gross domestic product.
Around that same time, the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles budget commission concluded that the federal government needs revenue equal to 21 percent. But the Republicans’ current tax-cut legislation would leave the federal government with revenue of only 17 percent of GDP.
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers sounded alarm bells about this in an op-ed in The Washington Post, on December 10.
And Larry Summers isn’t alone. Bruce Bartlett was an economic advisor to Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush. In a September Washington Post op-ed, he freely acknowledged that he “had a hand in creating the Republican tax myth.”
He’s referring to the myth that tax cuts lead to robust economic growth. Mr. Bartlett now says that, “Republican rhetoric around tax cutting” is “wishful thinking…. in reality, there’s no evidence that a tax cut would spur growth.”
In other words tax cuts won’t spur economic growth. They will create more debt, squeeze consumers, and mean steep cuts to vital government programs. So why is the majority pushing for them so hard?
There’s really only one reason: for their donors. Representative Chris Collins of New York was honest about why he has to deliver tax cuts. He said, and I quote: “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’”
Making the super-rich even richer doesn’t justify burdening our kids with huge government debt. It doesn’t excuse threatening Americans’ health care, retirement security, and other vital programs.
But cutting vital federal programs is exactly the price that middle class and working Americans will be expected to pay under the Republicans’ tax sham. Their plan calls for $500 billion worth of cuts.
And Speaker Ryan is already talking about where they will cut. He said, “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit. Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”
He wants to starve the treasury to benefit the wealthy. And then he wants to slash critical programs that create jobs, support innovation, secure our nation, and help people pay for housing, food, and medicine.
I want to support tax cuts for middle class families. I want to help make sure working people can take home more of their pay. I also want to make sure we can pay for roads and bridges, schools and scientific research and national defense. Mr. President – this bill doesn’t do that. It does the opposite. It takes money from middle class families and gives it to the ultra-rich. And then it leaves us with little to support our communities. Little for infrastructure. Little to make sure the United States of America continues to lead the world in innovation, science, and economic might. And little to ensure we take care of those in need.
This bill also fails Indian Country. While giving billions of dollars of tax breaks to corporations, this bill does nothing to spur economic growth or attract investments in our native communities. Not even basic, low-cost provisions to ensure that Tribes receive the same tax benefits as other governments. Once again, Tribes have been overlooked by the majority despite early and vocal Tribal input on tax parity in Indian Country.
Mr. President, I am prepared to roll up my sleeves and work with Republicans on tax reform that is fair, simplifies the tax code, and keeps American businesses competitive. But I cannot support tax cuts that lopsidedly benefit the ultra-rich, hurt working families, neglect Indian Country, and balloon the federal debt.
I yield the floor.