Floor Action

McConnell 'misspoke' on claim that no one in middle class would get tax increase

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is walking back his claim that no middle class Americans will see a tax increase under the Senate GOP plan.

"I misspoke on that. You can't guarantee that absolutely no one sees a tax increase," McConnell told The New York Times on Friday.

McConnell added that "what we are doing is targeting levels of income and looking at the average in those levels and the average will be tax relief for the average taxpayer in each of those segments."

Democrats immediately seized on McConnell's walk-back, accusing the Kentucky Republican of lying about the Senate GOP tax plan.

"The only thing that Mitch McConnell can guarantee is he'll stop at nothing to make sure his donors are taken care of - even if it means lying about how his donor-driven policies will hurt middle class families," said David Bergstein, a spokesman for Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), reacting to McConnell's comments, said middle class families "would be hammered" by the Senate tax plan unveiled Thursday.

"The Senate bill clearly violates Leader McConnell's pledge that the Republican plan wouldn't raise taxes on the middle class. Rather than distorting the facts about their plan, Republicans should turn back and work with Democrats on a bipartisan plan," Schumer said.

The Senate tax plan includes several key provisions that break with the House, including eliminating the state and local tax deduction, a one-year delay in cutting the corporate tax rate and keeping the estate tax.

McConnell told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on MSNBC earlier this month, before the Senate GOP plan was unveiled, that "at the end of the day, nobody in the middle class is going to get a tax increase."

But a preliminary New York Times analysis of the Senate legislation found that while middle-class Americans would do better under the proposal compared with the House bill, millions of middle-class families would still see their taxes go up.

A majority of middle class families would get a tax cut, according to the newspaper's analysis, including a savings of $1,300 in 2018 and $1,700 in 2026 on average.

But a quarter of middle-class families would get a tax increase in 2018, on average by $1,000. By 2026, roughly one-third would see their taxes go up, by an average of $1,600.

The Senate's bill is likely to undergo changes before it comes up for a final vote. The Senate Finance Committee will start its markup on Monday.

And under the Senate's reconciliation rules - which allow Republicans to avoid a Democratic filibuster - lawmakers will need to go through a "vote-a-rama," an hours-long marathon where any senator can force a vote on an amendment to the tax plan.

Senate Finance Committee aides told The Washington Post that they would need to make adjustments to the legislation because it doesn't currently meet the requirement that it not add to the debt after 10 years.

Updated: 5:31 p.m.