Pelosi denounces GOP tax reform as 'armageddon'

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

Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Mnuchin reach 'near-final agreement' on budget, debt ceiling Wendy Davis launches bid for Congress in Texas Steyer calls on Pelosi to cancel 'six-week vacation' for Congress 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 HoyerThis week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill The House Democrats who voted to kill impeachment effort Overnight Defense: House votes to block Trump arms sales to Saudis, setting up likely veto | US officially kicks Turkey out of F-35 program | Pentagon sending 2,100 more troops to border 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 DeSantisFlorida public schools will be required to provide mental health education for students To win over Midwesterners, Democrats should rethink school choice stance DeSantis wants statue of civil rights activist to replace Confederate figure on Capitol Hill 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 NealProgressive mayor launches primary challenge to top Ways and Means Democrat Democrat: Treasury 'acknowledged the unprecedented process' in Trump tax return rejection House votes to repeal ObamaCare's 'Cadillac tax' 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 DoggettHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Speaker Pelosi, seize the moment to make history on drug pricing House Democrats sue Treasury to turn over Trump tax returns MORE (Texas), Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) and Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorPelosi, Schumer invite US women's soccer team to Capitol Democrats grill Trump officials over fuel standard rollback Steyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment MORE (Fla.).