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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 TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration 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) KhannaOvernight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Senators seek US intel on journalist's disappearance | Army discharged over 500 immigrant recruits in one year | Watchdog knocks admiral over handling of sexual harassment case Lawmakers seeking intel on alleged Saudi plot against journalist Hillicon Valley: Seven Russians indicted for hacking | Apple, Amazon servers reportedly compromised by China | Pence calls on Google to end censored search engine work | Ireland investigates Facebook breach 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 PelosiOn The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion: Treasury GOP has not done a good job of selling economic achievements, says ex-Trump adviser 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 BradyOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Some ObamaCare premiums to decrease next year | Sanders hits back at Trump over 'Medicare for all' | Panel to investigate rising maternal mortality rates House committee to investigate rising maternal mortality rates How the Trump tax law passed: The final stretch 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 SchakowskyOvernight Health Care — Presented By National Partnership for Women & Families — Senate sends opioid package to Trump's desk | Drug companies fear Dem Congress | Premiums for employer plans rise Drug companies fear Democratic Congress Dems want to hold officials’ feet to the fire on ObamaCare 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 RaskinClinical trials are a lifeline for women with gynecologic cancers Reporter tops lawmakers to win charity spelling bee Dems seek probe into EPA head’s meetings with former clients 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 PascrellDems eye ambitious agenda if House flips Repealing SALT deduction cap would largely benefit wealthy: analysis Ryan, lawmakers call on Catholic Church leaders to come clean MORE (D-N.J.).

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerFive takeaways from the final Tennessee Senate debate Schumer rips Trump 'Medicare for all' op-ed as 'smears and sabotage' GOP senator suspects Schumer of being behind release of Ford letter 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 SchultzHouse Intel votes to release Russia transcripts Live coverage: Senate Judiciary to vote on Kavanaugh confirmation Dems urge Mattis to reject using 0M for border wall MORE (Fla.) and Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkDemocrat launches bid for assistant leader Aguilar launches bid for Democratic leadership position The farm bill gives Congress a chance to act on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act 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.”