Dems vow to repeal parts of GOP tax law

Dems vow to repeal parts of GOP tax law
© Greg Nash

Democrats are vowing to undo parts of the GOP’s tax-code overhaul if they win back control of the House in November, hoping President TrumpDonald John TrumpConservatives express concern over House GOP immigration bill Poll: McSally holds 14-point lead in Arizona GOP Senate primary Trump defends Nielsen amid criticism over family separations MORE’s first major domestic achievement will be a liability for the Republicans in the midterm elections.

The effort is reminiscent of the Republicans’ long-drawn campaign to hammer away at the Affordable Care Act and turn President Obama’s signature health-care expansion into a down-ballot albatross for the Democrats — an effort that helped the Republicans retake the House with sweeping election victories in 2010.

ADVERTISEMENT
“We should repeal it and I think we should offer an alternative tax plan, which is we’re going to provide the tax relief to the middle class and the working class,” said Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaVeteran New York Dems face upstart challengers The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Outcry raises pressure on GOP for immigration fix Overnight Defense: Trump, Kim poised for historic summit | Trump blasts 'haters and losers' hours before meeting | Defense bill to include ZTE penalties | Lawmakers sound alarm over 'catastrophic' Yemen offensive MORE (D-Calif.).

Democratic leaders are encouraging their troops to stage district-based tax-reform “teach-ins” designed to convince voters “what this tax scam means to families,” in the words of the direct appeal from House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiMadeleine Albright slams Trump over immigration Pelosi: GOP is 'complicit' in separating families Conservative groups outline new ObamaCare repeal plan MORE (D-Calif.).

Republicans are ready to hammer Democrats for vowing to repeal much of the tax law, arguing their opponents would be foolish to run on a message of raising taxes.

“I would welcome Democrats running for election based on, ‘Let us slow down the American economy, raise taxes and make sure people’s paychecks are stagnant for another decade,’ ” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyLawmakers, businesses await guidance on tax law On The Money: Trump imposes B in tariffs on China | China blasts 'fickle' Trump, promises payback | Trump to name consumer bureau director next week Trump announces tariffs on billion in Chinese goods MORE (R-Texas) told reporters earlier this week.

“That would be a terrible campaign theme for them to run on, but I welcome them to do it,” he said.

Republicans think the new law will ultimately be to their benefit, noting that polls show support growing. A Monmouth University poll found voters evenly split between approval and disapproval of the law, though it also found that more people expect to see their taxes go up than see their taxes go down.

Democrats are offering few details about what a replacement plan would look like, recognizing that legislation to roll back parts of the law won’t get far while Trump is in the White House. But painting in broad strokes, the lawmakers say they want to shift a bulk of the law’s benefits from the wealthy to the middle class.

“The polling on this bill is terrible for them,” said Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyStudents press Congress for action on guns Overnight Finance: Mulvaney remark on lobbyists stuns Washington | Macron takes swipe at Trump tariffs | Conservatives eye tax cut on capital gains | Gillibrand unveils post office banking bill | GOP chairman pushes banks on gun policies Overnight Tech: Highlights from Zuckerberg's second day of testimony | Trump signs anti-sex trafficking bill | Cambridge Analytica interim CEO steps down | IBM stops advertising on Laura Ingraham's show MORE (D-Ill.). “Americans don’t like it because they think they’re getting crumbs and people like Donald Trump are getting, literally, millions of dollars.”

The tax law Trump signed in December lowers the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. It also lowers rates across the board for individuals and creates a new deduction for income from noncorporate businesses.

No Democrats voted for the law, saying it’s a “scam” that helps the wealthy at the expense of working families. Democrats also resented the partisan process in which the legislation was drafted and a lack of hearings on legislative text.

Democrats are particularly critical of provisions cutting the top individual tax bracket from 39.6 percent to 37 percent and raising the threshold for exemption from the estate tax, both of which benefit wealthy people. They also strongly oppose the cap on the state and local tax deduction, which hurts the rich but also impacts others in high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey and California.

“The state and local tax deduction alone is an assault on the livelihoods and the property values of millions of Americans,” said Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinKey conservative presses for shield law after seizure of NYT reporter’s records Overnight Energy: Trump praises Pruitt for doing 'great job' | Lawmakers want criminal probe of Pruitt | Heckler brings lotion bottle to Pruitt speech Oversight panel may hold hearing on DOJ reporter surveillance MORE (D-Md.). “The doubling of the estate tax exemption is a comical giveaway to the richest people in the country. And their territoriality provision is an invitation to businesses to export jobs and to offshore their operations.”

The corporate rate cut poses a question, as Democrats have long supported a reduction — just not one as steep as the GOP bill.

“I agreed to the corporate rate deduction to 25 percent and nothing less,” said Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellDem lawmakers make surprise visit to ICE detention center Push for NAFTA deal continues as uncertainty increases Dems put squeeze on Ryan over chaplain controversy MORE (D-N.J.).

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Trump officials move to expand non-ObamaCare health plans | 'Zero tolerance' policy stirs fears in health community | New ObamaCare repeal plan Selling government assets would be a responsible move in infrastructure deal Ignore the naysayers trying to disrupt US diplomacy with North Korea MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters shortly after the tax bill’s passage that he thinks most of the law should be revamped.

“There are probably a small number of provisions we might not repeal,” he said. “It certainly would need drastic overhaul aiming it at the middle class, not the wealthy and powerful.”

Pelosi acknowledged Democrats will need to retake the House to have any chance of repealing and replacing the tax law.

“It may have to be a ‘replace and repeal’ — replace them and repeal the bill,” she said.

But Pelosi also said that, to endure, any tax reforms should be bipartisan. And she left the door open for a low corporate tax rate.

Liberal activists are also getting involved. The Not One Penny coalition has organized a series of events making the case for the need to repeal the “most harmful” provisions in the new law. Several Democratic politicians have participated or are planning to participate in the group’s events, including Pelosi, Rep. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzFlorida lawmakers blocked from entering facility holding migrant children Trump: Don't let Dems' IT worker, Wasserman Schultz 'off the hook' Koch-backed group to target some Republicans over spending vote in new ad campaign MORE (Fla.) and Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkMembers of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit Lawmakers congratulate Duckworth on birth of daughter DeVos battles lawmakers in contentious hearing MORE (Mass.).

Not One Penny spokesman Tim Hogan said Democrats should hit Republicans hard on the tax law in the midterms and work on repeal moving forward.

“It would be wise for Democrats to continue the fight and show that they will do what they can to make sure the economy works for everyone, not just the wealthiest,” he said.

Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, suggested Democrats should be careful not to over-promise. Just as the Republicans had no chance of passing Affordable Care Act repeal while Obama was in the White House, he cautioned, the Democrats face near impossible odds of repealing the Republicans’ tax reforms while Trump holds the veto pen.

“It’s important for us to take back the House and the Senate so we can make that effort,” Levin said. “[But] as long as the president is the president, we’re not going to have two-thirds to override a veto.”