Hearing of the Senate Budget Committee - Statement of Sen. Kamala Harris, Hearing on Republican Tax Plan


Date: Nov. 28, 2017
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Taxes

Thank you. Mr. Chairman I'm sure, or I believe, that there is bipartisan consensus that the American tax system does need reform, but unfortunately that's where the consensus in this process has ended.

What we are witnessing is a process that is not thoughtful, it is not responsible, and it is not fair. And that is troubling.

Senator King mentioned before the historic 1986 tax reform, the Senate Finance Committee held 33 days of hearings. On this bill, the Senate Finance Committee has not held a single hearing to consider the merits of these policies.

This bill is being rushed through with no attempt at bipartisanship. And if we held hearings, the American people would learn that this tax plan cuts taxes to corporations and the top 1% of Americans. And it pays for those tax cuts in two ways: by adding to the deficit and by raising taxes on middle class families.

So let's unpack the elements that have been proposed in the House and Senate plan. And let's ask the question, who does this tax plan help? And who does it hurt?

Under this bill, if you're a middle class family, you could be one of the 50 million American households who will see a tax increase within a decade. That's 5.8 million California households.

Under this bill, 572,000 tax payers who make over $1 million a year will get $34 billion in tax cuts in a single year.

Under this bill, if you're a firefighter or police officer, this tax plan would risk the funding to your station by taking away the state and local tax deduction.

If you care about public schools where you live, this tax plan will risk millions of dollars for public education in your state by taking away the state and local deduction.

If you're a senior relying on Medicare, the tax plan would slash Medicare by up to $410 billion over a decade. Over $45 billion of those tax cuts would hit California.

And because Senate Republicans couldn't repeal the Affordable Care Act, they're trying to turn this tax bill into a healthcare bill by repealing the individual mandate.

So that means if you have health insurance, you could be one of 13 million people to become uninsured in the next decade or face premium increases of up to 10%.

And if you worry about burdening your children with debt, like I know certainly most Democrats and many of our Republican friends do care about, be clear, this tax plan would increase the deficit by $1.4 trillion by the year 2027.

And the House Tax Plan which will be conferenced with the Senate bill, does even more harm to everyday Americans.

If you're a teacher, the GOP tax plan takes away your deduction to buy your students school supplies.

If you're a veteran, it takes away a tax incentive to hire you and others who have defended our country.

If you have student loans, the plan would eliminate the benefit that allows you to deduct the interest on your loans from the taxes you pay.

If you lost everything in the California wildfires, this tax plan takes away your ability to write off losses to your property.

Now let's talk about who this tax bill helps.

If your estate is worth more than $5.5 million, under this tax plan you'd pay a lot less taxes on that estate.

If you're the top 0.1% of Americans, you'd get almost $100,000 in tax cuts per year.

If you run a corporation, this plan permanently cuts corporate tax rates from 35% to 20%. Even though corporate profits have gone up while wages for working Americans stagnated.

And I want to be clear. In this great country, we celebrate success. We don't want to penalize those who have done well.

But we also believe that folks who have been blessed can contribute a bit more to paying for the things that benefit us all.

And I don't think it's fair to jack up the deficit or pull the rug out from the middle class to give a bit more to those who already have so much.

So here's my suggestion. Instead of giving corporations a big tax cut, let's give the middle class a real tax cut.

Instead of giving America's most fortunate more tax breaks, let's ask them to make a contribution a little bit more to help invest in infrastructure, job training, and making college affordable.

Instead of playing politics with people's lives, let's listen to the American people who have spoken loud and clear.

Let's listen to Americans like the teacher from Irvine who wrote me and said, "The 1% do not need this tax benefit. They need to pay more of their fair share. We need to preserve what's left of the middle class and make it possible for others to achieve that status."

It's regrettable that our colleagues have not voted to reject this bill. I truly believe this does not reflect the best of who we are as a country. Thank you.