Schumer warns against tax cuts for the rich ahead of Trump speech

Schumer warns against tax cuts for the rich ahead of Trump speech
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that President Trump should put “his money where his mouth is” and put forward a tax plan that prioritizes the middle class over the wealthy.

Trump is kicking off his tax-reform pitch later in the day in a speech in Missouri, and White House officials said that his speech is going to be focused on how changes to the tax code will help small businesses and the middle class.

But Schumer said during a call hosted by the “Not One Penny” campaign that Trump’s tax plan is “really a boon for the very wealthy” and that “the American people are going to rise up against” any GOP tax bill that provides large tax cuts for wealthy individuals but only provides minimal benefits for the middle class.

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Schumer and nearly all other Senate Democrats wrote a letter earlier this month saying that they want tax reform to be passed through regular order, provide no tax cuts to those in the top 1 percent of income and not increase the deficit. The minority leader encouraged Trump to collaborate with Democrats to rewrite the tax code.

“The president has two paths he can take,” he said. “We hope for the sake of the country, he’ll choose to work with us and put the middle class, rather than wealthy special interests, first.”

Schumer said that tax reform “is going to be one of the biggest fights of the next three, four months, and Democrats are ready for it.”

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said on the call that tax-reform elements that the White House has discussed in the past, such as repealing the estate tax, would largely benefit the wealthy.

“This is reverse Robin Hood-ism at its best,” he said. “I think that the Missouri voters need to be aware of the trick that they’re trying to play on us that somehow this is going to be some kind of an equitable cut in taxes for working people as well the wealthy.”

White House officials said Tuesday that there are elements of Trump’s tax speech that Democrats should be able to support, such as the president’s goal to eliminate tax breaks for special interests.

Michael Linden, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, said that there are many tax provisions benefiting the wealthy that progressives would support eliminating, but Trump hasn’t proposed eliminating those things so far. He added that it’s “not a good trade” to eliminate small tax deductions in exchange for new tax loopholes that could be created under a Trump-backed bill.

The host of the call, Not One Penny, is a coalition of progressive organizations that is advocating against tax cuts for wealthy individuals and large corporations. The group launched a seven-figure ad campaign last week.