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 TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland 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.

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“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) KhannaFreedom Caucus ponders weakened future in minority Ocasio-Cortez tiptoes into Washington New Dem star to rattle DC establishment 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 PelosiCárdenas starts legal defense fund for sex abuse lawsuit Booming economy, kept promises, making America great — again The Hill's Morning Report — Trump showcases ICE ahead of midterm elections 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 BradyTreasury releases proposed rules on major part of Trump tax law Republicans happy to let Treasury pursue 0 billion tax cut Trump weighs big tax cut for rich: report 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 SchakowskyWomen poised to take charge in Dem majority Overnight Health Care: Drug price fight heats up | Skepticism over drug companies' pledges | Ads target HHS secretary over child separations | Senate confirms VA pick Lawmakers worry about rise in drugged driving 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 RaskinDems seek probe into EPA head’s meetings with former clients Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback Sparks fly at hearing on anti-conservative bias in tech 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: Trump revoking Brennan's security clearance is 'Moscow politics' Markey: We know more about Trump's talks with Cohen than with Putin House votes to repeal ObamaCare medical device tax MORE (D-N.J.).

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerWith lives at stake, Congress must start acting on health care To make the House of Representatives work again, make it bigger Reforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain 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 SchultzLawmakers aim to use spending bill to block offshore drilling GOP lawmaker 'outraged' after being denied entry to migrant children's shelter Right-wing conspiracy theories against ex-congressional IT staffer debunked in plea deal MORE (Fla.) and Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkThe farm bill gives Congress a chance to act on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act Michigan lawmaker wants seat for Midwest at Dem leadership table Michigan Dem mulls leadership bid in House 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.”