Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference on the Negative Impacts of the GOP Tax Scam
San Francisco – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Bay Area advocates and middle class Americans for a press conference about the negative impacts of the GOP Tax Scam. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks
Leader Pelosi. Thank you very much to [Deputy] Chief Williams here for your hospitality in this very special place. It makes me a very important person in my family when I can bring one of my grandchildren to a firehouse. Because we have firefighters as icons in our society and we owe them all the support we can get. And we had no greater lesson than that in the past month, and I thank the firefighters of San Francisco for what they did for the North Bay in the very sad situation.
I’m honored to be here with my colleague from East Bay – [Congresswoman] Barbara Lee and she is a Member on the Appropriations Committee which make some of the decisions of where we place our resources, that being a reflection of our values and who better than Barbara Lee to reflect our values in the budget fight that goes on in Washington, D.C.
We have some very special guests here today – we’re going to hear from Shon Buford, San Francisco firefighter, Shaya Kara USF [University of San Francisco] graduate and Vangie Buell, who’s going to speak about the medical deduction and the possible elimination of it. I won’t go more into describing them because I want you to hear directly from them how they would be affected by what is happening in Washington, D.C.
What’s is happening this weekend, all over the country is – we were just comparing notes, Congresswoman [Barbara] Lee and I – all over the country Representatives in Congress are engaged in occasions such as this to present to their constituents, what is at stake for them in their assault against the middle class the Republicans are putting forth. It is a tax plan that the Republicans are putting forth, it is a tax scam, I’ll go more into it. But starting today and ending Monday there will be scores of events, presentations, by Members and candidates as to why this is wrong.
This is a very important debate for us. We would love to change the bill. But in order to change the bill the Republican Members of Congress have to see how destructive it is to their community – and this is very important in California because this bill – this tax scam that Republicans are forcing on the Congress very destructive to California for reasons I will go into. But it’s very hard to understand why all 14 Republicans voted against California in the Bill.
Doug LaMalfa in district one, Tom McClintock, Paul Cook, Jeff Denham, David Valadao, Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Knight, Ed Royce, Ken Calvert, Mimi Walters, Dana Rohrabacher, Darrell Issa, and Duncan Hunter. The question to them is how can you vote for a bill that is an assault on the economic security of tens of thousands and in some cases hundreds of thousands of your constituent’s families. I can go into the numbers and I can give them to you if you wish.
Particularly alarming that in Northern California, three of the members, Doug LaMalfa, over 100,000 of his constituents are affected over $10,000 dollars each. Tom McClintock, 39,000 of his constituent families are affected over $11,000 dollars. Paul Cook, nearly 60,000 [families] to the tune of nearly $9,000 each, and the list goes on.
But it’s important to note, as we gather in this firehouse that none of the Republicans in Congress except for one, [Congressman] Ed Royce. None of the Republicans in Congress signed the letter to the Administration for the fire funds that Governor [Jerry] Brown requested [from] the Administration’s budget and as we go forward with the next supplemental [spending bill].
It’s important to also note in relationship to fires that these for Members, all 14 of them, voted for a tax bill that says the following, ‘if you have property loss etcetera because of the Hurricanes you can deduct your losses from your taxes, but not from fires.’ Is that stunning? Is that stunning? Isn’t the mean spirited? What’s that all about? And these Members all voted for a budget that does that. And some of them are on the Ways and Means Committee that reinforced that message again.
It’s really hard to understand or explain but these Members are going to have to explain to their constituents and I have that list available to you, if you want that.
It’s important to note the 22 mayors sent a letter to the California delegation saying, ‘please, the SALT, the state and local taxes that would no longer be deducted.’ Now to rub salt into the wound, let me put it that way, if you’re an individual you cannot deduct your state and local taxes. If you’re a corporation you can. Imagine that?
This whole tax bill is a gift to corporate America. $1.5 trillion dollars – at the rate of $1.5 trillion dollar tax cut for corporations. At the same time having provisions in the bill to make it easier for them to ship jobs overseas.
You start a business overseas you get a tax break compared to starting a business here. Give them a tax cut, give them to tax break to start a business overseas and by the way, you can still deduct your state and local taxes.
It’s interesting to know that that $1.5 trillion rate cut for the corporations – exactly the same number that they voted in their budget bill, that predicates and is the premise for this two weeks ago – they cut $1.5 trillion dollars from Medicaid and Medicare. A trillion of Medicaid, $500 billion from Medicare – in keeping with their theory that Medicaid should wither on the vine and Medicare should fade away.
So, this is really, as I say, an assault on the middle class and an insult to the intelligence of the American people – because they’re saying to the American people, ‘this is a tax break to the middle class.’ Really? You throw us a few crumbs to the middle class, you plunder middle class families with the provisions that you’ll hear about now.
But the fact is 38 million middle class families will have a tax increase. In California, 2.2 million households will have a tax increase because it’s a bill that raises taxes on the middle class no matter what they say, slashes taxes for the wealthiest and explodes the deficit. They’re supposed to be deficit hawks – it explodes the deficit. I think a deficit hawk is probably an endangered species, if not extinct by now. It gives tax cuts to corporations, ransacks Medicare and Medicaid and that’s their gift to the middle class.
Again, we talked about some of the provisions but don’t take it from me, you’re going to hear about it from our guest and it is my honor to introduce one of them – and that is Shon Buford, San Francisco Firefighter, Local 798 and I’m bringing him forward to thank him and all of the fire fighters in all of this.
Remember this, when they eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes they are harming the ability of state and localities to meet the needs of people and again public safety that we’re so proud of in our firefighters.
Shon, please join us here. Thank you!
Leader Pelosi Closing Remarks
Leader Pelosi. Thank you Shaya [Kara], thank you Shaya [Kara]. As you see this is not only an assault on the middle class it’s an assault on the future because the debt that this will take us into, a minimum of $1.5 trillion dollars of debt to the national debt, not counting interest on all of that. It could go to $2-3 trillion dollars.
Here’s the thing, we just talked about talked about education, health and public service. On education, think of this, kids and families – because it’s families helping to pay the debt. Right now there’s a $2,500 deduction for interest on your student loans, right now. But if this bill were to pass that would be gone. Isn’t that an act of cruelty to America’s families? Why? To give a tax break to the high end as we grow the national debt. Taking it away from our kids and their families.
If you are a teacher in a school, as Congresswoman [Barbara] Lee mentioned earlier. Say you’re a teacher in a district and you bring supplies to school as many teachers do including my son-in-law who’s a teacher. You can deduct the expenses of bringing those supplies to school – arts and crafts, whatever it happens to be. Not under this bill! You can get $1.5 trillion tax deduction if you’re corporate America but teachers bringing items to their classrooms lose their deduction. Why? To give a tax break to the wealthiest people in our country, 80 percent of this tax scam goes to the top 2 percent.
The list goes on in terms of education, but just think about this in terms of children. Right now there’s a tax deduction if you adopt. And if you adopt a child with special needs, further deduction. Not anymore. Not anymore. What? And if you’re a business, it helps employees adopt and many businesses do, and you have a deduction for it now, not anymore. Why? Because they’re too busy giving a tax deduction to wealthiest people in our country and corporate American and increasing the deficit at the same time. Really? Really? It’s certainly a stunning thing and the list goes on and on.
It’s just so much, but it suffices to say, eliminating the SALT [state and local tax] deduction as the Congresswoman [Barbara Lee] said – when Mr. Buford spoke, he spoke about the fact that they had now allowed a $10,000 window there. The Senate says that’s not going to happen, we’re eliminating the entire deduction. So it’s back to the figures there that I read this morning. They said they’re not accepting anything unless the full deduction is eliminated. That, again, a further act of cruelty, but again, our Republican Members have already voted for that. Now, we’ll see where they go from here. I just wanted to put this in the words of others before we go into questions.
This is a letter that was just put out, November 9 when they had just seen the bill by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. ‘As written, this bill appears to be the first federal income tax modification in American history that will raise taxes on the working poor while simultaneously providing a tax cut for the wealthy. No tax reform proposal is acceptable that increases taxes for those living in poverty to help pay for benefits for wealthy citizens.’
And there are other things that relate to education, the work opportunity tax credit, they object to the fact that that’s on it. The tax deduction on burdens of student loans, the list goes on and on, but people with disabilities are affects. And the deduction of state and local taxes and sales taxes, may impact people, it gives a disadvantage to people in higher taxed states. Right now the deduction – right now they [Republicans] say, ‘we shouldn’t give California an opportunity to tax their people.’ So this is an anti-governance thing as well.
Oh, and did I tell you this one more thing, so they give corporate America – if you’re an individual and you change jobs and you move you cannot deduct your moving expenses but if you’re a corporation and you move you can. And I didn’t bring it here but he works the President and I don’t know what his title — his name is [Director of the National Economic Council] Gary Cohn, he said, ‘no one is happier about this bill that the corporate CEOs.’ One of our colleagues [Congressman] Chris Collins said his donors have said, ‘if you don’t pass this bill don’t call me ever again.’ And [Senator] Lindsey Graham said the financial contributions will dry up for them.
So this isn’t about their constituents, it’s about their donors. It’s also about their philosophy. Tax cuts at the high end, if it trickles down to you so be it, if it doesn’t that’s the free market. The free market – while they subsidize businesses to go overseas.
So in other words, we have to defeat this bill, the only way to do it is for constituents to know what’s in it, so they can hold their elected officials accountable. Shame on the Republicans in California for selling their constituents down the river so corporations can take jobs overseas. With that, [Congresswoman] Barbara Lee will be pleased to answer any of your questions.
Congresswoman Lee. I just want to reiterate what the Leader said in terms of who is going to get hurt by the tax plan, this tax scam: senior citizens, disabled, our children, our teachers, firefighters, the people who are struggling to figure out how to get child care, when you look at those who are unemployed and have lost jobs because jobs have gone overseas. This corporate tax reduction and corporate tax credit that has an incentive to ship jobs across shores leaving more unemployed in our own country. And, it really is, the Republicans say this will help the middle class – I don’t know, I don’t see it, who in the middle class is it going to help? I know it won’t help their constituents.
If you look as veterans, as the Leader indicated, look at everyone in our country, look at 90 percent of the population – 95 percent of the population – it will hurt most of the people in our country. So hopefully, by calling their names, the Republicans in California will understand they are hurting their constituents – they are really prohibiting them and keeping them from moving forward from taking care of their families and living the American dream – a major step background and I know that with your help and will everyone’s help and with the Leader’s leadership we can move forward to defeat this.
Leader Pelosi. I just want to read the letter from the U.S. Conference of Bishops because they say, ‘While they give,’ they double the deduction, ‘while they give with one hand, they take with the other.’ That is my characterization of it. But while they give one deduction, they take away the personal exemption and these others.
We have said to the Republicans, ‘We believe we should have real tax reform.’ This is not what that is. This is not reform – it’s not even tax cuts unless you’re very wealthy or in corporate America – this is tax on the middle class in our country. We have said, ‘Let’s sit down and do this in a bipartisan way so we can create growth, generate good paying jobs and reduce the deficit.’ This bill does not do that.
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Q: I wanted to talk about the property losses deduction that you mentioned. For victims of the fire in California and hurricane victims. Can you describe that? And please don’t mince words.
Leader Pelosi. I associate myself with Ms. Buell’s remarks when she said, ‘I can’t possibly explain why they would do such a thing.’ Now let me, at this time, give praise to our colleague [Congressman] Mike Thompson working with [Congressman] Jared Huffman – Mike for the biggest part of this – and Mike is on the Ways and Means Committee. Coming home, I watched the whole Ways and Means Committee hearing on TV and he presented letters to the Chairman of the Committee. And all along, when this was happening, Republicans already voted in the budget to do this – you have to ask them unless it’s some mean-spirited thing about California. But the fact is, Chairman Brady is from Texas and Texas was affected and we don’t want them to be deprived of the opportunity the budget describes but if it was hurricanes – and all of this in full light of the fires were going on – you would have to ask them – I don’t think they have an answer.
But Mr. [Congressman] Thompson sent letters from the hospital associations on what this would do and all the consequences of it – it’s just mean-spirited. But remember this, 14 Republicans from California voted knowing that was in the bill and 13 of them would not sign a letter to the President asking for assistance – we’re not even talking about the tax deduction now – the assistance, the emergency assistance we need for California – so it’s a double-whammy. Yes, sir?
Q: Congresswoman, what is the timetable on this and are your Democrats united on this?
Leader Pelosi. Yes. Let me just say – the timetable is urgent – it’s urgent because they passed the bill out of Committee yesterday. Their Members have not even seen it – they have revised it and manager’s amendment which is almost a substitute substantial change to the bill. They did that yesterday afternoon. It’s the speed of light in the dark of night so nobody can see it and that is – thank you for asking about timing because the more time we have, the less popular the bill will be and they just want to sneak it through. And so, they will take it the Rules Committee which will probably change it again – voting on another sight unseen without giving the Americans a chance what they are doing. Our economy – most important to individuals – financial stability –we will probably vote on it next week – that’s what they say,
At the same time, the Senate is putting out their bill and their bill – they return the SALT to its original form. In its original form – state and local taxes, you can’t deduct. The New Yorkers tried to make it a little better so they said the first 10,000 dollars you can deduct – that doesn’t mean that much in California – but now the Senate is saying, no, nothing.
In addition, I think it is important to note, in New Jersey and New York – largely affected – other states too – but New Jersey and New York – largely affected. A large number of the Republican Members there voted against the bill. So what’s the matter with our Members? What’s the matter with our Members? They are being sold a bill of goods, it’s not that – these are not our statistics – these are statistics from the IRS about how much these people will pay.
Congresswoman Lee. Let me just talk about the unity of our Democratic Caucus because under Leader Pelosi’s tremendous leadership and I’ve been a member of many, many Caucuses – I don’t know of one individual who would support this tax scam. Secondly, if you just look specifically at the SALT scam and what they are doing with state and local taxes, I’m a member of the Tri-Caucus, the Black, Hispanic and Asian-Pacific caucuses and when you look at the impact on jobs and services and opportunity and what this will do – it is very dangerous – it is scary. People will lose jobs and we are trying to make sure that any tax package that is put forward creates jobs – this bill will tax jobs away over shore as well as people who are working here in service will lose jobs – it’s really dangerous – it’s sad – I haven’t heard of one Member who even cares about this bill in terms of trying to fix it.
Leader Pelosi. Let me just say about our Caucus. It’s not about this bill – this bill is the most recent manifestation of a governing for the rich and powerful at the expense of middle class and the working families in our country. And every day, every week, whether in Committee or on the floor, we have to fight their assault on the middle class while they go out and tell a different story. That’s why I say what they are doing is an insult to the intelligence of the American people while they assault the financial security of America’s middle class. Any questions?
Q: Two-parter for you – I don’t think you guys mentioned affordable housing and thinking about the loss of private activity bonds and it’s so much for affordable housing in San Francisco. Secondly, can you address the philosophy behind slashing the corporate tax rate to, hypothetically, reinvest in wages and workers – certainly that is the counter-argument – can you mention that philosophy?
Leader Pelosi. The bishops do mention – there’s so many things. When it comes to housing, the bill repeals the mortgage tax credit certificates which are only available for first-time home buyers under certain income thresholds – this is a very important initiative, but of course, they repeal that. Home builders are opposed to the bill – so many people are opposed to the bill. In fact, they said its about small business but – what’s that thing? [National Federation of Independent Business] – wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party opposes this bill. Now, they may get a little tweak or something and make it better.
But, structurally, even if you corrected one or a few of these things – it’s structurally, it’s horrible. Second, while they’re saying our corporate tax rate is too high, if we lower it, they will give raises to their workers – it’s never happened. This is a philosophy – tax cuts at the corporate and it will generate jobs and higher income – it never has, it’s a hoax. In this case, I was having a discussion with not Democrats, not Republicans, business people, they were saying that they are talking about the rate to 20 percent, but the effective rate most businesses pay is about 17 percent, if they pay taxes as all. Some are in the single digits.
But let’s subject it to the scrutiny. We’ve said, ‘Oh if you think that will happen’ – we had an amendment that we had a press conference on and the rest, ‘If you say this tax cut for corporate America will increase the wages of working families – if it does not, you don’t get the tax cut and you have to return the money – if you have so much confidence that this is what it will do.’ But of course, they don’t accept our amendment but that’s the fight we have. This is a moment of truth. Tell the truth to the American people. Tell them you don’t believe in governance and that’s why you want to deal with the SALT so that governance – and you know what’s going to happen?
They’re going to say, ‘We gave a tax break’ – which is fake and localities and states are going to have to raise taxes to meet the needs of the American people.
One more thing on that, that the bishops say – I’m referencing them because I want you to take somebody else’s word for it. They talk about how eliminates incentive for charitable giving and denotation – doubling the standard deduction will give tax relief to some people, however, those who give to charity will only have a benefit for high-income families’ and then when they do that, organizations that administer to the needs of people in the community will be at a disadvantage. So it’s a mess.
Congresswoman Lee. I would just like to speak to the affordable housing aspect of this. Once again, I think we need to look at this in terms of a tax giveaway to corporations and millionaires and billionaires – they are pulling the rug under middle-income and working families in terms of their ability to acquire equity in one’s homes. The majority of middle-income families, they don’t play on the stock market on Wall Street – the only path to sending their kids to college or starting a small business is through building equity in their homes.
So once again, they are pulling out the rug from middle class, working families to not allow them to have the opportunity to buy a home or send their kids to college or start a small business. Once again, millionaires, billionaires and corporations are benefiting – who are they benefiting on the backs of? Low-income, middle-income individuals and, on top of that, off-shoring incentives to send companies off-shore instead of creating jobs here at home. It’s really a sham and hopefully Republicans in California will know that.
Leader Pelosi. I don’t know that we think that New Yorkers and New Jersey people are smarter and faster to see the light but apparently the Republicans in those state understand what this does to their constituents. Our people are walking lock-step with an ultra-anti-governance agenda. But home ownership is about building community too and that’s really what is so sad. I think we have covered a lot of territory. The atrocities in this bill are endless. We could be here all day but we are trying to prioritize some of the concerns we have.
I wanted to thank, again, [Deputy] Chief Williams, Chief Hayes White – I saw her last night, she’s at a funeral right now but sends her support for what we are talking about here. This is, again, is a moment of truth and we are demanding that the Republicans be truthful about what they are doing to the American people and instead of what they are doing, to sit down with us to do true tax reform that creates growth, generates good-paying jobs and reduces the deficit. Democrats have A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Pay, Better Future – this is not about a better future. Thank you so much and thank you to the San Francisco Firefighters.