WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, released the following remarks at the start of the committee’s consideration of the Republican tax reform bill.
“Tax reform is a topic I’ve been deeply involved with since my work in the Maryland General Assembly. It’s important to every Marylander. Our tax code reaches every American citizen and resident. It is to be expected that Democrats and Republicans disagree on priorities in any tax effort. Until recently, however, I was under the impression that we shared at least these principles: that tax reform be fair and that it be fiscally responsible. For me, the bill before us meets neither of these conditions.
“Democrats and Republicans seem to be reading two different bills. Granted, Republicans have had far longer to review the text because Democrats were shut out of the creation of this major bill, but I am astounded at the way Republicans seem to be ignoring fundamental math and economic modeling in determining who truly benefits from this Senate tax reform bill.
“Republicans say they want to help middle-income families, but their bill doesn’t do that. I’m not just looking at high-level numbers. I’m looking at how this bill delivers its benefits to those who really need it most. Let’s also not ignore that the party that claims to be fiscally conservative is openly adding $1.5 trillion to our federal debt. While I think this is the height of fiscal irresponsibility, if Republicans insist on increasing our deficit by trillions, at least we could use that money to directly invest in our families and communities because they are going to be footing the bill for most of that deficit. This legislation doesn’t do that.
“When these tax cuts are ultimately paid for, these families would likely lose more in health care, education, job training, and other services than they gain in tax cuts, while high-income households would likely remain winners.
“Over the past 11 days that my constituents have had to view the House bill, and, believe it or not, over the holiday weekend that we’ve been given to review this bill, I’ve received many concerns from Marylanders about how they’re both bad deals. Nearly half of all Maryland filers claim the state and local tax deduction. This bill gets rid of that deduction for individuals, but retains it for businesses. To put this another way – this bill requires that Marylanders be taxed twice on their income, their purchases, and their property. And, the bulk of that revenue goes not to the average Maryland household, but to tax cuts for large businesses and wealthy households.
“My constituents have other concerns with this bill outside of the SALT deduction. For example, they are worried that critical incentives for investments in struggling urban and rural areas are cut in this bill, like the Historic Tax Credit program, which has been used across my state.
“There is a better way to do this. If my Republican colleagues really want to create jobs and help the middle class, let’s provide incentives that directly create jobs and help the middle class. Let’s direct some of the money from tax reform to infrastructure projects, instead of hoping that jobs will be created if we give enough money away. Let’s fund public-private economic development partners that have a proven track record of helping our struggling communities thrive. Let’s provide direct incentives to the middle class and working families to help them save for retirement. Let’s invest in our workforce, especially those hit hardest by economic circumstance, like the long-term unemployed. Let’s provide tax credits for families and workers that are actually targeted at the middle class – not increased just to meet a distributional target for higher-income households.
“If we really want to do bipartisan and comprehensive tax reform right, let’s slow this down and get it right.
“This product is not transformative tax reform. It is a group of tax cuts that is being sped through this process for political reasons. And it is a moving target.
“With something as important as our tax code – again, something that touches every American resident and citizen – we should be thoughtfully and deliberatively governing based on what is best for our nation, not what is best for the next election.
“Should the Congress make the mistake to speed forward with this deeply flawed process – I hope my colleagues will join me in opposing this bill. Thank you.”
Video of Senator Cardin speaking in the Senate Finance Committee may be downloaded here.