WASHINGTON – Democratic lawmakers have been the party of “no” of late. “No” to a border wall. “No” to health-care reform, “no” to judicial nominees, “no” to just about everything President Trump proposes.
After all, that’s what they promised when he was elected.
And their next target? It’s likely tax reform, despite overwhelming evidence that changes are needed to reduce the burden on American companies and workers.
While Trump has signed 53 pieces of legislation and appointed a Supreme Court justice during the eight months he’s been in the Oval Office, the new president been unable to deliver any of his major legislative goals: health care, infrastructure and a wall on the southern border.
Now the president is doubling down on his promise to achieve comprehensive tax reform, which would benefit workers, businesses and families.
In his first speech on tax reform Wednesday, he called on Congress to commit to reforming the tax code.
“We’re here today to launch our plans to bring back Main Street by reducing the [crushing] burden on our companies and on our workers,” Trump said at a speech in Missouri kicking off his tax-reform push. “The foundation of our job creation agenda is to fundamentally reform our tax code for the first time in more than 30 years.”
Tax reform, Trump said, is his key to unlocking economic growth and job opportunities.
“This is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver real tax reform for everyday, hardworking Americans. And I am fully committed to working with Congress to get this job done,” Trump said to the cheering crowd. “And I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress. Do you understand me?
“I think Congress is going to make a comeback. I hope so. I’ll tell you what, the United States is counting on it,” he added.
The administration’s plans thus far have been short on details, but the new tax code is expected to be determined in large part by the congressional tax-writing committees rather than the White House, the Hill reported.
No Senate Democrats are expected to support Trump’s plans, however. On Aug. 1, 45 of the 48 Senate Democrats signed a letter to Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they not support any legislation that gives new tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans or adds to the deficit.
Sens. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; and Joe Manchin, W.Va.; were the only three members who broke with the party line and refused to sign the letter.
Trump said the U.S. needs to keep pace with other countries and ideally needs a business tax of 15 percent.
“America must lead the way, not follow from behind,” Trump said. “We have totally surrendered our competitive edge to other countries. … We’re not surrendering anymore!”
The president then called for tax relief for middle-class families to reduce the costs of child care and raising a family.
“We want to help them take home as much of their money as possible,” Trump said.
“What could possibly be more bipartisan than allowing Americans to keep more of what they earn and creating an environment for real job and wage growth in the country that we love so much?” he asked.
In his speech, Trump also targeted Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is considered one of her party’s most vulnerable incumbents, urging the crowd to vote her out of office if she doesn’t back tax reform.
“She must do this for you, and if she doesn’t do it for you, you have to vote her out of office,” declared Trump. “We just can’t do this anymore with the obstruction and the obstructionists.”
According to the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation, workers indirectly pay 25 percent of all corporate tax dollars. Workers would, therefore, benefit from a corporate tax cut.
Trump’s tax-reform proposal has garnered the widespread public support.
Sixty-three percent of Americans support eliminating most federal income tax deductions and loopholes (for the rich), according to Gallup.
Approximately 47 percent of people are in favor of reducing the number of tax brackets, with only 12 percent opposing. Americans overwhelmingly support eliminating the death tax by 54 to 19 percent.
A new Fox News poll finds that about half (49 percent) of American voters say tax reform is important to pass this year, but nearly eight in 10 (78 percent) don’t think it will happen. The Fox poll also revealed that just 15 percent of voters approve of the job Congress is doing, while about five times as many – 74 percent – disapprove.
Yet, Democrats are still staunchly positioning themselves against Trump’s tax-reform proposals.
Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said Trump’s proposal would “overwhelmingly benefit the super-rich and corporations over hardworking Americans.”
“Under this plan, the richest Americans would become even richer at the expense of middle-class families,” Perez said in a statement obtained by CNN. “Democrats believe that not one penny of tax cuts should go to the 1 percent. Instead of trying to benefit themselves, Trump and Republicans should work with Democrats to enact real, bipartisan tax reform for the middle class.”
Just hours before Trump traveled to Missouri to build momentum for a Republican legislative tax reform effort, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned that his party intends to fight with Republicans over tax-reform legislation.
If the Republican tax reform plan lowers rates for the wealthy, as expected, Schumer warned, then “the American people are going to rise up against it.”
“This is going to be one of the biggest fights of the next three, four months, and Democrats are ready for it,” the New York senator said.
Schumer waged his threat on a call hosted by the “Not One Penny” campaign, formed by a coalition of left-leaning groups, including Tax March, a group that organized after Trump’s election victory demanding the president release his tax returns.
In an effort to generate opposition to tax cuts for high earners, the campaign has launched ads depicting Republicans as doing the bidding of rich donors.
Such rhetoric, however, ignores the fact that a large percentage of Americans pays no income taxes at all now. Onetime GOP presidential Mitt Romney famously cited a figure of 47 percent.
“Why are Republicans in Congress trying to pass a bill that would give billions more to the richest?” asks one version of the ad, which will run in the districts of Republican reps.
Several conservative groups, including the American Action Network and the Koch-affiliated Americans for Prosperity, have pledged to back legislation with major ad and advocacy campaigns.
Following Trump’s speech, the House Freedom Caucus group tweeted that tax reform was needed for the prosperity of American families.
— House Freedom Caucus (@freedomcaucus) August 30, 2017