Statement ● GOP Tax Law
For Immediate Release: 
November 29, 2017
Contact Info: 
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks on the House Floor yesterday while hosting a Special Order Hour in opposition to the GOP tax scam bill that cuts taxes for the wealthiest Americans, raises taxes on 82 million middle-class families, and explodes the deficit. Below is a video and a transcript of his remarks:
Click here to watch a video of his remarks.
“Well, I thank very much the gentleman from Connecticut for his comments, in particular, highlighting how the majority party, considering this legislation, cut out the public entirely.
“Speaker Ryan, when he took the Speakership, talked about transparency. He talked about regular order. He talked about doing things so that the people would know what we’re doing. Not only were there no hearings in the House, not only were there no witnesses in the House, as the gentleman knows, there were no hearings in the Senate, there were no witnesses in the Senate. And in a short timeframe, Republicans are trying to pass a massive increase in the national debt. So that, in effect, as the gentleman knows, they say they’re cutting taxes, I’m going to talk about how that’s not really true. Particularly for the middle class, it’s not true. But, they are substantially raising taxes on every one of the children in this country who will become more indebted, and in their time, will have to pay back the money that is borrowed, that is borrowed to give this tax cut. So I thank the gentleman for highlighting these important facts, and I thank him for his service on the Ways and Means Committee. 
“...The subject of my special order, as we have seen, is the dangerous, very dangerous tax bill that this House passed and that the Senate is now considering. In fact, of course, the Senate bill is worse than the House bill, if one can imagine that.

“On November 16, the Republican Majority in this House passed a bill to raise taxes on 36 million middle-class households and place our country another $1.7 trillion [in debt]. Now, you'll hear $1.5 trillion, and you’ll hear $1.7 trillion; what's the difference? The difference is about $200 billion that we will pay in interest to others to affect this tax cut. So, not only is it going to be the $1.5 trillion immediately impacted by the tax cut itself, it will be the $200 billion additional that we'll have to pay to borrow the money to get the tax cut – and, as I’m going to point out, give that tax cut, essentially, for the most part, to the wealthiest enterprises in America.
“Two hundred and twenty-seven Republicans voted to do that to their constituents. Every single Democratic Representative who was present [voted no] – joined by thirteen Republicans who did what, in my opinion, many of their colleagues wanted to do but for political reasons, not policy reasons, chose not to do. They did so, Mr. Speaker, following impassioned remarks by the Majority Leader McCarthy and by Speaker Ryan. Both addressed this House and the American people and claimed to be pushing these tax bills in order to help the working people of our country. A worthy objective, an important objective, and perhaps one [that] could justify this extraordinary escalation of the national debt, the largest, probably, increase in the national debt of any single bill that has been passed. They cited struggling families and the need to provide a leg up to those in our middle class. Those, of course, are very resonant messages - very important messages. Frankly, we ought to be talking about how we create jobs, not debt. But they're being employed to sell a tax plan that would do exactly the opposite of what they say.
“In his speech on the Floor, Speaker Ryan lamented, and I’m quoting: 'Seventy-eight percent of our workers in this country today are living paycheck to paycheck. …Instead of thinking about getting ahead, families are struggling just to get by.' He's right about that. And he is right to be concerned about that. What he is wrong in is his response. Those living paycheck to paycheck will be the ones hurt the most by this tax scam. Let me repeat that. The Speaker talks about those living paycheck to paycheck. That concern is an absolutely legitimate concern for every one of us in this House and every member of the Senate. Unfortunately, he has offered a bill, however, that will hurt the very ones he says that he wants to protect. They will see their taxes go up over the next decade. In that same period, as middle-class families are struggling to get by, they'll watch the wealthiest get farther and farther ahead.
“This is not about class warfare. This is about a judgment: who needs help? Who needs lifting up? Well, he talked about the people who need lifting up. The problem is, he didn't lift them up. They'll watch the wealthy be lifted up, and they're very high right now. God bless them. Why, I ask, would the Republican tax plan take $1.7 trillion away from our children and grandchildren and give 62% of it to the top 1%?
“Mr. Speaker, the people get it. The people think this bill is not going to help them. That's what polls show. And they're right. Under the Republican plan, it's wealthy individuals like Donald Trump who win and regular working Americans and our middle class who are trying to get ahead who lose.
“House Republican leaders cajoled their Members – cajoled is a very polite word – they pressured and scared their Members.  They said if you don't pass this bill you're going to lose the election. Not because the people are for it but because, as one Member said from New York, their donors demanded it. They urged their Members to vote for a flawed bill many of them did not want and that none of them believed would become law. They did that so they could hand the reins to the Senate to send back a version no one had yet read or contemplated. They put their House Majority on the hook to accept whatever the Senate would pass, word for word. We'll see whether they do that.
“That Senate bill that is now being considered would deeply harm middle-class families. Particularly those in Congressional districts across the country where more taxpayers choose to deduct their state and local taxes. Like my state and other states. Dozens of House Republicans from such districts voted enthusiastically to ‘move the process along.’ In other words, they voted against their taxpayers and for their party (‘Party above people’) – to move it along by supporting the House tax bill with a promise that it would be improved in the Senate. These Members would be asked to make further concessions against the interests of their constituents to vote for the Senate bill, were it to come to this Floor. Because it is worse for their constituents – not better.
“That's not how the Congress is supposed to work, Mr. Speaker. That's not regular order.
“The American taxpayers and American businesses seeking to grow in our economy have been asking Congress to enact tax reform that is bipartisan and permanent. You heard Mr. Larson talking about the 1986 bill. It was a bill that was worked out between President Reagan, Speaker Tip O'Neill, Chairman Dan Rostenkowski – a member from the Democratic Party from Illinois – and the Gentleman from Oregon, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, a Republican.
“Republican bills in the House and Senate can be called neither bipartisan nor permanent. So what can we call it? In his Floor remarks before the vote on the House bill, Speaker Ryan called it ‘the single biggest thing we can do to grow the economy, to restore opportunity, and to help middle-income families that are struggling.’
“That's not true, Mr. Speaker. However, it is the ‘single biggest thing we can do’ to put our children and grandchildren further into debt. I have heard so many of my Republican colleagues stand on this Floor and say, we cannot spend this money because our children will have to pay the bill. And they're right.
“We have a pay-for problem, Mr. Speaker. We ought to be paying for what we buy. Here, we're not paying. We're borrowing $1.5 trillion, as I said earlier, to give to some of our wealthiest citizens. For that is what their plan would do: raise taxes on the middle class today and on our children and grandchildren tomorrow to pay for the wealthiest few to get tax cuts they don't need and that won't grow our economy. Let me stress, I think everybody in this room, everybody in the country, would like to be wealthy. This is not talking about penalizing the wealthy. It is simply to say: God bless you. You've done well. But we need to make sure that others do well as well.
“The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business released a survey, Mr. Speaker, on November 21, just a few days ago, in which forty-two expert economists were asked whether the Republican tax bill would produce the higher economic growth promised by its authors. Forty-two of the most prominent economists. Only one, only one, said that it would do so – and, ironically, later admitted he had misread the question. None of the forty-two, not one, agreed that the tax cuts for the very wealthy included in the Republican bill would eventually pay for themselves. And that is why we say it is one of the greatest debt-creating pieces of legislation that any of us have considered.
“Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who presided over the basis for four years of balanced budgets – so he has some real credibility on how to bring balance to our fiscal posture in America – he served at a time of historic budget surpluses.  He pointed out this fallacy in his op-ed in The Washington Post on November 15th. He said this: ‘The tax cuts,’ he wrote, ‘will not increase growth and, given their fiscal effects, would likely have a significant and increasingly negative impact.’ He went on to make several compelling arguments about the dangers of the Republican tax proposals, and I ask unanimous consent that a copy of his op-ed piece be included in the Record in full.”
[The op-ed was inserted into the Congressional Record and can be read here.]
“Furthermore, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan group, Speaker Ryan was flat wrong, flat-out wrong to say that their plan would ensure that ‘the average family at every income level gets a tax cut.’ The Joint Committee [on Taxation] says that is not true. I presume the Speaker was misinformed, because taxes would go up on all income groups below $50,000. Perhaps the Speaker misspoke.
“Speaker Ryan said, ‘I’m a chart guy.’ Well, I like charts myself, Mr. Speaker, and I want to bring up this first chart. I’m bringing this a little closer so I can explain it. The Speaker claimed that a family of four making $59,000 would get a $1,182 tax cut in the first year alone. Well, now if you hear that, that sounds, I suppose, like a pretty good deal.
“Unfortunately for that family, their cut would shrink every year. This is the shrinkage. And then it would drop precipitously. By 2024, it would become a tax increase, increase, increase, increase. And as you see, that increase escalates, the four years – 24, 25, 26, and 27 – so starting in the seventh year of this program, middle America, [families making] $50,000, you get a tax increase. But guess what, it's not what happens to the wealthiest in America.
“It's even worse. The Speaker mentioned the family making $59,000 a year. And what he said is they get $1,182 a year in a tax cut. What he didn't say is what the upper 1% get. They get $1,198 per week, fifty-two times more than the middle-class families that the Speaker spoke about and lamented the fact that they needed more dollars in their pocket. He didn't talk about the wealthiest; he didn't say what they got. I don't blame him. Because in his bill, he decided to give $1,198.52 a week to the wealthiest, and $1,182 a year to that middle-class family he says is struggling and living paycheck-to-paycheck. What kind of fairness is that? What kind of rationale is that? What kind of real help to the middle class is that? That's about, by the way, $25 per week, versus $1,198.52 per week.
“Speaker Ryan showed us a chart that highlighted how under the House bill those middle-class families promised a tax increase to get to see an extra $1,182 in savings the first year. We put it down, and then we put fifty-two layers above that for the people in the upper 1%. Under that same plan, as their [the middle-class] cut shrinks, you saw that in the last chart, the wealthiest taxpayers would see an average tax cut of $1,198 every week.
“And it's even a wider disparity under the Senate bill. Now that is a gulf of disparity. A gulf of unfairness. A gulf of not helping the average working person in America. But the Senate bill, the Senate bill is even worse.
“The Senate GOP tax scam would increase taxes on 82 million [households].  Remember how I said in the House bill, 36 million middle-class taxpayers got an increase? Well, the Senate has doubled that – actually more than doubled that. Eighty-two million middle-class households will get a tax increase under the Senate tax bill. And with substantial tax increases on 36 million middle-class households over next decade in the House bill, it's hard to imagine a worse plan. Yet somehow, Senate Republicans achieved it.
“The Tax Policy Center – another nonpartisan analytic group – found that under the perverse structure of the Senate bill, sun-setting individual benefits in a few short years, even as it offers permanent – get this, follow this: we're talking about Speaker Ryan [who] spoke from that rostrum, talked about the struggling Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, and he offered a bill and the Senate is now doubling down on the proposal of making sure those struggling Americans got, over the life of this bill, less and less and less. And then finally paid more and more and more while the wealthiest had no cut.
“The Tax Policy Center said that the sun-setting individual benefits in a few short years, even as it offers permanent corporate tax cuts, 82 million middle-class individuals and households will pay more in taxes than they would under the current system. Mr. Speaker, I want to make that point again. The Tax Policy Center says people are going to pay more under this tax bill, some 82 million of them, than they would under the current system.
“On top of that, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has pointed out that under the Senate bill, they undermine the Affordable Care Act. So not only would their taxes be increased over the life of this bill, but 13 million Americans would lose their healthcare under the Senate bill. Not the House bill, but under the Senate bill. And that's what the House is going to be asked to vote on. I hope the Senate doesn't pass that.
“Mr. Larson talked about sequester and the PAY-GO Act requiring a $25 billion cut in Medicare as a result of this bill. The Senate has added in there legislation to adversely affect the Affordable Care Act, which will adversely affect 13 million Americans. Some of them may be the same people who get the tax increase. Some may not. They would kick 13 million off health care.
“So the Republican tax plan is not bipartisan, and it's not permanent tax reform. The way you achieve those, as I said at the beginning, is through bipartisan cooperation. But as Mr. Larson pointed out, there was no intention to do that. No intention to include the public. No intention to have markups over a period of time. They did have markups. But they were very short in duration, and no Americans had the opportunity to weigh in and give their opinion. And there were no hearings. And there were less than zero witnesses. I guess there can't be less than zero. There were zero witnesses. So the bill is not a tax cut.
“Speaker Ryan has also tried to describe it as a job creator. Now, again, we're talking about, correctly, the folks in this country who are living paycheck-to-paycheck and having a hard time, and we need to help them. We need to work on creating them jobs. By the way, there's no jobs bill that has been sent down here from the President. But they claim this is a jobs bill. As a matter of fact, they claim that it not only explodes the debt, costs taxpayers $1.9 trillion, but it would create, they say, 890 [thousand] new jobs.
“Now, ladies and gentlemen, in order to create what they say are 890 [thousand] new jobs, and – by the way, going back to Secretary Rubin, he does not believe that will happen and he's the one that led us to balanced budgets. In fact, every one of those jobs, every single job is going to cost $1.9 million to create. That's what the Speaker said. This is going to create 890 thousand jobs. We're going to borrow $1.7 trillion to do it. By golly, you could give everybody $100,000, you'd be way ahead of the game. But that's not what was done. We're creating large, large debt, and we will not create the jobs the Speaker said. And if we did, they would cost $1.9 million per job.
“According to the conservative Tax Foundation, using the most optimistic model projecting economic growth so far presented, that may be technically true over ten years now. But with a price tag of $1.7 trillion in added debt over the same period, that means that each job would cost $1.9 million. While 82 million working Americans, those struggling Americans of which Paul Ryan spoke, would get a tax increase under the Senate bill. Nearly $2 million of added debt to create a single job. Nearly $2 million of added debt to create a single job. So, this clearly isn't a jobs bill either.
“This has already been discussed, but let me reiterate a key point I made. Earlier, I said it can't be called bipartisan. Republican leader after Republican leader after Republican leader has lamented the fact that we passed the Affordable Care Act without it being bipartisan. The difference, of course, was we had literally thousands of meetings, well over sixty hearings, amendments offered by Republicans and Democrats. It took over a year of consideration by the country. Well vetted. Controversial, but well vetted. This bill has been rushed through without hearings, without any kind of consideration and input from the public.
“In 1986, thirty hearings. In 2017, zero hearings. Witnesses – I’m repeating what Mr. Larson said, but it’s important to understand the dramatic difference between a bipartisan bill with President Ronald Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neill leading the way for bipartisanship and agreement on a bill, by the way, that was revenue neutral. It did not create any new debt, as opposed to the $1.7 trillion – that’s with a ‘T’, trillion, that will put every child in America deeply in debt for decades to come.
“In 1986, 450 witnesses. In 2017, zero. Bipartisan support [in 1986], yes. Bipartisan [support in 2017], no. Markup – I mentioned markup; that's when you put the bill together and you give it thoughtful consideration, that you offer amendments and try to perfect it. Twenty-six days in 1986. Four days in 2017. This is a bill of over 600 pages. I remember everybody saying how long the Affordable Care Act was and you possibly couldn't do it. Again, over a year and a half of consideration of that bill. Four days [for this one]. Introduced next week, markup, four days, [then] on the Floor.
“I was here in 1986, Mr. Speaker. The last time we rewrote our tax code, that was truly a bipartisan process. I hope everybody read the remarks of Senator John McCain when he came back to the Senate and voted to move the process forward on the Affordable Care Act but then voted against the final product. He voted, and he gave a speech in which he said: Mr. President, I have been here – speaking to the President of the Senate – Mr. President, I have been here for some period of time. And my experience has essentially been that when we did things in a partisan way they were neither lasting nor very good. But when we do things in a bipartisan way, they're much better and they’re much more permanent. There is much more confidence in that product that was reached in a bipartisan way.
“Speaker Ryan made a point in his remarks about how long overdue we are for tax overhaul. He said it has been thirty-one years. Now, of course he didn’t say: ‘I was Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and didn't report out a single tax bill.’ I'm not sure why, but that was the case. We did bipartisan [reform] in 1986, we did permanent tax reform, we did it together, and we did it in a way that was paid for. That's not what this is. Neither the House bill nor the Senate bill achieves those key aims.
“The Republican tax overhaul process is dangerously flawed precisely because it is partisan, because it rejects the benefits of compromise in favor of the pitfalls of expediency. I called it in my speech in opposition to its adoption, ‘reckless and feckless.’ It was reckless because it would heap that $1.7 trillion – with a ‘T’ – $1.7 trillion of additional debt on our country, on our children, on our people. Bob Rubin in that column, which I referred to, said that that debt would undermine expansion because it would rob the capital markets of money that could be used to build small businesses and to build medium-sized businesses, and invest in large businesses to create and keep jobs. [I called it] feckless because the same people who used to call themselves fiscally responsible – Senator McConnell, Speaker Ryan, Senator Hatch, others that I could name – have all stood on the Floor of the House [or Senate] or in a press conference and said we need to have the debt reduced. And yet, they offer a bill that adds $1.7 trillion to the debt. Feckless because the same people who used to call themselves fiscally responsible are now choosing to ignore fiscal sustainability in favor of a short-lived political win.
“This is not about policy, it is about politics. It is about appealing to a relatively small group of very, very connected people. But it's our country that will lose. I told people during that speech – I have been in office for some time. I served in the state Senate and now in the House – it takes no courage, no courage to vote for tax cuts. What takes courage is to pay for what you buy, whether it's national security, which I support, whether it's education, which if we don’t invest in then our country will not be great. Our country is great, in part because we have invested in our education system. Unless we invest in the health of our people, which is the health of our society, we will not be great unless we invest in the security of our people domestically, in law and order, and enforcement and protection for people. It will not be great unless we invest in basic biomedical research to make sure that the diseases that exist now and may exist in the future can be met with medical cures in politics. We will not be great if we sink our country, deeply, deeply, deeply into debt and do not have the courage to say, in this generation, we will pay for what we need and not simply buy and pass the debt along to our children and to our grandchildren.  Because that's what we're doing.
“It is not only an intellectually bankrupt policy; it is an immoral policy that we pursue. As the Senate version takes shape, Mr. Speaker, the Republicans who voted grudgingly for the House bill ought to be deeply concerned. And I hope for the sake of their country – they're good people, there are good people on both sides of this aisle. There are conscientious people on both sides of the aisle. There are Americans on both sides of this aisle - Americans who have sworn to protect and defend the Constitution of our country and have, as well, sworn to protect the people of this country. There ought to be deep concern among people of good conscience, concern that it does not meet the very same criteria that Speaker Ryan set forth in laying out what tax reform ought to achieve and what he claimed the House bill achieved.
“Neither does it adhere to the Speaker's clear promise not to package together separate matters into the same legislation. Make no mistake: the Senate bill House Republicans will be asked to vote for isn't just a tax hike for the middle class, although that it is.  It is also a repeal of [a] significant component of the Affordable Care Act, which will hurt that same middle class.
“It may have been difficult for Republicans to cast their votes for vague promises on November 16th, but I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, it will be even more difficult to do so for a legislative product that puts their constituents – those, the Speaker talked about - struggling just to get by, people who if they have a $500 debt are not sure they can pay it – it will affect those folks and put them in even greater danger, should the Senate bill make it back to the House.
“Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues in the Senate to reject this bill. I urge my colleagues in the House to look deeply into their souls and not at their polls, and reflect upon what they're doing to their country by perpetrating the fiscally irresponsible policies of borrowing, of borrowing, of borrowing, and not having the courage to pay this bill, this generation's bills now and not pass them along to our children and to our grandchildren. Every member of this House and of the Senate, Mr. Speaker, ought to look themselves in the mirror and say: when I gave those speeches, when I referenced that to the press, was I being honest? Am I following a policy today that is consistent with that assertion? I think they will come to the inextricable answer: no. If I vote for this tax bill, I am not.
“And therefore, I hope that all of us will reject this partisan piece of legislation that vastly increases our debt, increases the taxes on middle-class workers, threatens Social Security with a $25 billion cut, and threatens our economy. Let us have the courage to serve our people honestly and take the tough vote and then come together in a bipartisan fashion and do what we showed what we could do in 1986 – pass a bipartisan bill that, yes, makes our corporations competitive internationally, and yes, gives the bulk of the tax cuts to those who the Speaker referred to as struggling. They're the ones who need relief. And we can do that in a bipartisan fashion, and we can pay for it.
“David Camp showed us the way. I didn't agree with all of his bill, but he showed the courage – a Republican from Michigan who was Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and put [out] a bill on tax reform that was paid for. And the Republicans were in charge of this House, and they dismissed it out of hand. Too tough.
“Mr. Speaker, let's do the right thing. Let's reject this bill. I yield back the balance of my time.”