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Pelosi denounces GOP tax reform as 'armageddon'

Pelosi denounces GOP tax reform as 'armageddon'
© Camille Fine

Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiCongress should build on the momentum from spending bill Pelosi pushes back against Steyer’s impeachment push FreedomWorks backs Jim Jordan for House Speaker MORE (D-Calif.) hammered the Republicans’ tax-code overhaul Monday evening as a culture-shaking economic “armageddon” that would haunt the working class for years to come.  

Flanked by other top Democrats in the Capitol, the minority leader blasted Republicans for championing a tax proposal she equated to “the end of the world.” 

“The bill that the Republicans are putting forth to go to conference is probably one of the worst bills in the history of the United States of America,” Pelosi said, just moments before the Republicans voted to begin the conference negotiations designed to iron out the differences between the tax bills passed by the two chambers.

“It robs from the future [and] it rewards the rich … and corporations at the expense of tens of millions of working middle-class families in our country,” she added. 

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Of particular concern to the Democrats is the exploding debt projected under the Republicans’ tax bills, which might then fuel the push for cuts to expensive federal programs like Medicare — a “starve-the-beast” strategy the Democrats have feared for decades.

"The debate on health care is like death,” Pelosi said. “This is armageddon.”

Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse consumed by leadership races Hoyer: Dems eyeing ways to roll back GOP tax law Trump order targets wide swath of public assistance programs MORE (D-Md.), Pelosi’s top lieutenant, wasn’t prepared to take things so far.

“Look, I’m not going to say it’s the end of the world,” he said. 

But Hoyer offered plenty of superlatives of his own in warning against the GOP’s tax plan. The effect on deficit spending would constitute “the deepest hole dug by a single bill in the years that I have been here,” said Hoyer, a 36-year veteran of Capitol Hill, while the GOP’s nonchalance in the face of those deficit figures marks “the greatest amount of hypocrisy that I have seen since I have been a member of this House.”

“This is not about class warfare, this is about fairness,” he said.

Republican supporters of the tax package have argued that the steep cut in the corporate rate — combined with a doubling of the standardized deduction for the middle class and a simplification of the filing process — will spark a blizzard of new economic growth that will ultimately benefit taxpayers of all incomes. 

Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisGOP lawmakers demand Sessions investigate Clinton, Comey Volkswagen has not cleaned up its act, time for Congress to step in Trump pushes for added powers in spending fights MORE (R-Fla.) estimated that, of the $1.5 trillion the bill is estimated to cost over the next decade, the burst of new economic growth would erase $1 trillion. The remaining $500 billion could be eliminated via spending cuts, he said. 

“Some of the members on the Republican side who were criticizing it for the deficit, I mean, I have a concern about that, too, but some of those folks vote for big spending increases, big omnibus bills,” he told CNN, pressing his own party to get more aggressive in pushing for cuts.

“It's not just the tax side. You can't just project uninterrupted spending increases as a Republican and say we are fine with that. We're supposed to be the party that wants to streamline government.”

Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealIRS experiences technical difficulties on last day to file taxes Top House, Senate Dems warn administration on short-term insurance House panel approves bipartisan bills aimed at improving the IRS MORE (Mass.), the senior Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, focused his ire Monday on the process Republicans have adopted in racing their tax bills through Congress in hopes of meeting a Christmas deadline.

“The entire financial architecture of the country is to be rewritten in three weeks. Not one hearing, not one witness, and the entire architect is about to be turned on its head,” Neal said. 

“The idea that political victory is more important than sound policy escapes me.”

Pelosi on Monday announced the five Democratic conferees who will negotiate the tax package on behalf of the party. They include Reps. Neal, Sandy Levin (Mich,), Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettGOP pushes for 'phase two' of tax cuts House panel begins evaluation of expired tax breaks Supreme Court agrees to hear Texas redistricting case MORE (Texas), Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) and Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorDems ramp up bid to oust Pruitt Live coverage: Zuckerberg faces second day on Capitol Hill Overnight Energy: Court won’t stop kids’ climate lawsuit | GOP blocks Dem attempt to make Pruitt fly coach | House delays pollution rules for brickmakers MORE (Fla.).