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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Representing the 25th District of New York

Ranking Member Slaughter Statement as Republicans Work to Jam their Tax Cut for the Wealthy Through the House

November 14, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC — House Committee on Rules Ranking Member Louise M. Slaughter (NY-25) gave the following statement at a committee meeting this evening as House Republican leaders work to jam their bill to provide a massive tax cut for the wealthy through the House. It would raise taxes for many middle class families nationwide while increasing the deficit by $1.5 trillion. Tax cuts for the wealthy are such a priority for House Republicans that they used emergency procedures to force the Rules Committee to meet a day earlier than planned, with just a few hours’ notice. Slaughter’s opening statement tonight, as prepared for delivery, is below.

“What is such a great emergency that you had to drag us up here tonight with just a few hours’ notice? We are here under emergency procedures to consider the Republican bill to provide tax cuts for the wealthy. It’s Kansas on steroids. Making the rich even richer at the expense of the middle class is apparently a literal emergency for the Majority.

Republicans like to call this effort tax reform. But we know it is anything but true reform. What you’re doing is going after deductions used by middle class families, students, teachers, and homeowners, among others. And increasing the deficit by $1.5 trillion just to provide more tax breaks to the wealthy. Let me tell everyone watching here tonight what else we could get for $1.5 trillion. This is according to a New York Magazine analysis:

•   We could give 4.4 million unemployed Americans a job in public works that pays $15 an hour

•   We could give the Department of Housing and Urban Development the funding it needs to end homelessness in America today

•   We could build a national high-speed rail system to revive our crumbling infrastructure

•   We could guarantee every worker 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave every year at 66 percent of their monthly wages

Instead, we are exploding the deficit by $1.5 trillion, and actually adding $1.7 trillion to the debt over the next decade when the interest cost is included. Not to tackle any of the priorities I just discussed, but to give the wealthy a tax cut they do not need. I think Congressman Chris Collins summed up what this is really about when he said, quote, “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again,’” end quote. Well, it is clear that the middle class will suffer mightily so the Majority can get it done.

This bill eliminates the State and Local Tax deduction for individuals and families with the exception of a property tax deduction capped at $10,000. At the same time, it allows corporations to continue deducting SALT, with no cap on the property tax deduction. There are more than 100 million Americans in 44 million households today that claim this deduction. Nearly everyone who itemizes claims it. In 2015, more than one-third of all New Yorkers who filed taxes claimed SALT. Taxpayers in the state deducted $73 billion under SALT in 2015 alone. In Monroe County in 2015, more than 120,000 households claimed SALT with nearly 90 percent of its beneficiaries coming from those with an adjusted gross income below $200,000.

I’m especially troubled that the House bill would also abolish a number of tax benefits geared toward making higher education more affordable at a time when college costs are soaring nationwide. It eliminates the student loan interest tax deduction when our young people are already paying interest that’s far too high. Think of how many students will not be able to afford to go college if this bill goes into effect.

Under the guise of “streamlining” higher education tax benefits, this bill would raise $65 billion off of the backs of our nation’s college students and graduates. And it would impact teachers as well as students, since they would no longer be able to get a tax deduction for spending their own money to equip their classrooms. That’s right, Republicans are going after students and teachers, but giving a $1.5 trillion dollar gift to corporations and the super wealthy.

We already heard from the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee that this will be a closed rule, meaning no member can offer amendments on the floor.  Many members, after being told that they had until noon tomorrow to get their amendments submitted, have had to scramble and possibly even submit incomplete amendments in an attempt to get their voices heard on this massive piece of legislation tonight. 

The Speaker was asked recently by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, quote, “What happened to Paul Ryan the deficit hawk?”  He answered, quote,  “We will have economic models that will show this. That this will help grow the economy,” end quote.

Well I’d sure love to see those models confirmed by independent, nonpartisan experts. We still don’t have a “dynamic score” from the Congressional Budget Office – the exact type of score that Republicans claim will show how this bill will impact the economy. The only place in the country that does not hold dynamic scoring in contempt is the Republican Conference, and yet it is the Republican leadership that is jamming this bill through without one.

You have 9 votes up here to our 4.  It is already not a fair fight. You win every day in the Rules Committee with your more than two to one ratio.  It is beneath the dignity of this institution for the Republican leadership to pull tricks like we are seeing today. All to reward the wealthy and contributors that fund the Majority’s campaigns.  

This angers and saddens me.  I urge my colleagues not to do this.  I yield back.”