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 TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report 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) KhannaBooker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Clinton and Ocasio-Cortez joke about Kushner's alleged use of WhatsApp Overnight Defense: Senate breaks with Trump on Yemen war | Shanahan hit with ethics complaint over Boeing ties | Pentagon rolls out order to implement transgender ban | Dem chair throws cold water on Space Force budget 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 PelosiPelosi, Dems plot strategy after end of Mueller probe Coons after Russia probe: House Dems need to use power in 'focused and responsible way' Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings 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 BradyJOBS for Success Act would recognize that all people have potential Smaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive Key author of GOP tax law joins Ernst and Young 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 SchakowskyDems seek to stifle primary challenges to incumbents Hillicon Valley: EU hits Google with .7 billion antitrust fine | GOP steps up attack over tech bias claims | Dems ask FTC for budget wishlist | Justices punt on Google privacy settlement Dems ask FTC if it needs more money to protect privacy 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 RaskinEx-Georgia candidate calls for probe, says more than a hundred thousand votes went 'missing' Dems struggle to turn page on Omar controversy Schumer: Trump 'redefined chutzpah' by calling Dems an 'anti-Jewish party' 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 PascrellBooker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements On The Money: Liberal groups pressure Dems over Trump's tax returns | Top Trump economist says tax cuts powering economy | Trump Jr. slams Theresa May over Brexit delay | Watchdog warns of 'rosy' assumptions in Trump budget Liberal groups step up pressure on Dems to request Trump's tax returns MORE (D-N.J.).

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar 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 SchultzGOP turns Venezuela into Florida attack line Dem lawmakers unveil Journalist Protection Act amid Trump attacks on media Trump's emergency declaration looms over Pentagon funding fight MORE (Fla.) and Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkChances of passing Dem budget are '50-50,' says chairman House to vote Thursday on anti-Semitism resolution Dems struggle to unify after GOP embarrasses them on procedure 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.”