Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference with Middle Class Americans Negatively Impacted by GOP Tax Proposal


Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal and middle class families for a press conference on the negative impacts of the Republican tax proposal.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi’s Opening Remarks.

Leader Pelosi.  Good morning, everyone.  We have some very special guests with us here today so I will be brief in my remarks so we can hear from them.  Yesterday, as you know, the Republicans unveiled a terrible assault on opportunity for the middle class in America.  The Republicans want you to believe they are cutting taxes on the middle class, but the Republicans are plundering the middle class and middle class families to give trillions of dollars in tax cuts to corporations – some shipping jobs overseas.

Already, it is clear that the Republicans are not being really truthful about whom the tax bill benefits.  A tax analysis done by the New York Times found that the Ryan-McConnell Tax Bill would actually raise taxes on 13 million taxpayers who earn under $100,000 a year.

Again, this bill raises taxes on the middle class, adds trillions to the debt while giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and corporations while stripping credits and deductions from middle class families, includes tax incentives for corporations to ship jobs overseas.  It ransacks the budget of Medicare and Medicaid – a trillion dollars cut from Medicaid, half a trillion cut from Medicare, the same amount Republicans give to tax cuts to corporate America.  Decrease the corporate tax rate by a trillion and a half, then take a trillion and a half out of Medicare and Medicaid.

We are honored today to be joined by men and women and children who will speak directly to the consequences of the Ryan-McConnell bill.  They are speaking for the families and communities that Republicans did not want you to listen to – they did not want you to hear – hard-working families who will bear the pain while corporate America gets a buffet of tax give-aways.  They are just a tip of the iceberg of the suffering of the GOP bill.  We thank them for taking time to share their stories.

And we have with us today, Susan Flashman, a retired union electrician with medical expenses the deduction will, of course, be eliminated.  Captain John Niemiec, President of Fairfax County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics local 2068.  Kendra Tappin, health care worker and mother of three – two here plus a friend.  Barbara Altman, a retired grandmother who has an adult son with microcephaly who relies on Medicaid.  And Michael Smith, a Nabisco worker laid off from a Chicago plant.

In addition to hearing from our families, I am honored that we are joined by the Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee, a real champion for America’s working families, a defender of the middle class, we are so proud that he has the role he has – I am so pleased to welcome Congressman Richie Neal from Massachusetts.

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Leader Pelosi.  Thank you so much, Michael.  As you can see, the Republican plan will rob from these children’s future by heaping mountains of debt on the national debt.  Why?  To give one and a half trillion dollar tax breaks to corporations and, by the way, Captain, when they say that individuals cannot deduct state and local taxes, that does not include corporations, they can still deduct permanently and, at the same time, attach advantages to create jobs overseas at the expense of doing it in our country.  Clearly, an advantage in the tax code – why?  They have to answer that.

With that, I am free to take any question you may have.  I would like to focus on this subject first.  Any questions?  You have a tremendous resource here in our Ranking Member on the Ways and Means Committee [Richie Neal] who knows the most about this subject and peoples’ personal lives.  Yes?

Q:  Mr. Neal, are there any aspects of the bill that you think people are not catching wind of?  Any small pieces in this 29 page bill that really have not come to the light of day yet and that Democrats need to highlight?

Congressman Neal.  I think, part of it is the complications that arise in the housing market and I think that even if you grasp the immediate number, limiting or shaving back the deduction, it also adds layers of complexity to people getting into the housing market – which we all think is a desirable goal.  So I think there are many parts of the tax codes – they are advertised as numbers but there are also social impacts that occur because of it and I think if you consider, for example, how people enter that housing market, they all of sudden discover after having a second or third child that they cannot move to a bigger home even if they need it because of the deduction being removed, and I think that in suburbs of Boston this is going to have a very perilous effect.

I also think that the description I used earlier of trying to fit that size-12 foot into a size-7 shoe makes an awful lot of sense because you are squeezing people in the middle class while simultaneously advertising this as middle class tax relief – that’s the disguise – that’s the rouse that is being undertaken.  And they are prepared to make the corporate cut permanent and make phase-outs to the other items they are proposing.

So if I could it take it there for a moment, I think this is really important, in terms of their projections on growth.  What if that doesn’t happen?  Which did not happen in 2001 and 2003 despite the fact that there were 2.3 trillion in terms of tax cuts and very slow growth.   What happened was very simple; the deficits went through the roof.  That’s what happens.

So there’s slow growth and all of sudden the deficits go up and somebodies got to pay it.  So you might not see the consequence of it in 2001, but you certainly see the consequence of it in 2007 when we’re in the midst of a recession losing 800,000 jobs a month.

So these are long-term impacts that take place and there are a considerable number of social issues that arise afterwards.  If these cuts went into effect and we run into budget deficits down the road, they’re going for Medicare and Social Security for cuts.

Leader Pelosi.  Any other questions?  First I want to finish on this, then I want to thank our guests.

This is a moment of truth for our country, because the decisions that are made about the budget, affected by the tax code have an impact on the growth of our economy and the well-being of America’s working families.

Our distinguished Ranking Member Mr. [Richard] Neal talked about home ownership.  It’s very important the sense of community, people putting down roots, it’s very important.  And to undermine that – it’s very important. The people on the floor of this House say to me, ‘I’m going to have to sell my house without the deduction.’  That is a really important part of it, and with the possible appreciation, it isn’t indexed.  So it only gets worse for people.

So, again, the moment of truth – what does this mean?  When they say this is for the middle class, it is not.  It’s like saying to the middle class, ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ because they give with one hand just a little bit and they take away, as you heard from our guest, as you heard.  Whether it’s the extraordinary medical expenses deductions, deduction for interest on student loans, whether it’s what happens in terms of – listen to this.  It’s really stunning.  What happens in terms of education – central to everything we do – and by the way, nothing brings more money to the Treasury and reduces the deficit and increases our growth than investing in education.

So to cut education is really dumb – with stiff competition, one of the dumbest moves Republicans are making in this bill.

So they’re impacting people and their ability to pay their student loans, they’re taking billions of dollars out of investment in education in our country and then just to see the meanness of it all – if you’re a teacher and you bring supplies to school because your school isn’t able to supply everything in the classroom, you no longer can deduct that.  Why?  So they give the President’s cabinet tax deduction or eliminate the estate tax or any other tax advantages.

There’s a cruelty to it.  Again – veterans are affected very directly.  Families are affected very directly.  Home ownership is affected very directly.  Local communities that meet the needs of the American people are affected very directly.

What are they thinking?  This is a moment of truth.  And we have to make sure, as your question indicated, that people should know more about [it].  One thing they’re finding out more is that whatever was said during the campaign by whomever about keeping jobs in the U.S., this bill does the exact opposite.  And we want to be sure that people are aware of that.

So again, a moment of truth – to our colleagues: get real!  Don’t tell the middle class this is for them.  You’ve set a banquet for the wealthy and corporate America and you’re throwing a few crumbs.  It’s really making suckers of the American people and we have to speak in some bold language about this because the misrepresentations are so outrageous.

So I thank our guest for speaking for eloquently than we could say, for speaking from their own experience to the unfairness of this legislation is more eloquent to the American people.  I thank Susan Flashman, Captain [John] Niemiec, Kendra Tappin, Barbara Altman and, Michael Smith and our very special guest Shiloh, Sabia and their friend Dani.  Let’s hear it for the future, for the future!  And that’s what this is supposed to be about, the future.  Thank you all so much. And I thank our distinguished Ranking Member for his great leadership and the Democrats on the committee too for the knowledge and wisdom that they bring to all of this.  Yes, sir?

Q:  Briefly, do you believe what Donna Brazile was saying yesterday?

Leader Pelosi.  You know what?  You haven’t heard me re-litigate last year’s election.  I wasn’t involved in the Presidential.  I’m only looking forward.  This is about the future.  I haven’t had time to be reading any of that anyway but, nonetheless, what I’ve seen on the little tape going across the screen.  Let’s focus on what’s really important to our country.

Q:  Madam Leader, even though you weren’t directly involved — 

Leader Pelosi.  No I wasn’t.

Q:  But that said, you are a big fundraiser for the party,

Leader Pelosi.  I am.  The biggest.

[Laughter]

Leader Pelosi.  Not counting the Presidential.  I’m not going to.  Look, I have responsibility for what I have responsibility for.  I don’t have any interest in what I don’t have responsibility for, when it comes to other campaigns.  I’m heartbroken that we didn’t win the White House.  There will be all kinds of books written about what happened. One year ago, that election took place.  Can you believe, it’s been a year?  In just a couple of days it will be a year?  And one year until the next election.  My focus is on the next election.  I don’t have a spare second to be thinking about comments that went on within the DNC.   Any other questions?

Q:  The misrepresentations are outrageous in this bill – are you saying that Speaker Ryan and others are lying about this?

Leader Pelosi.  I say they’re taking the American people for suckers.  They’re trying to pass this off as a middle class tax cut when they know it is not.  Why?  Why would you cut the deduction of interest on student loans?  Why would you say to teachers, you have to take it out of your own pocket to bring supply to school and you don’t get a deduction on it.  But we’re going to give corporate America a tax deduction to shift jobs overseas.

I’m saying – I didn’t say lie, I don’t use the word ‘lie.’  I’m saying that they are misrepresenting what this bill is and we will make sure the America people know the impact it has on them.  I’m saying this is a moment of truth.  The figures, the bill will speak for itself.  We will make sure the American people know what’s in that bill and we will be very graphic.

Congressman Neal.  Can I just comment on that Madam Leader?  When you look at the Wharton study or the Center for Tax Policy or the Goldman Sachs study, none of them say that you’re going to get 3% growth.  They all say that you, given demographic trends, will be lucky to get to 2.2.

Here I think that, when I talked about speculation, about what might happen, in the debate we recently had about the border adjustment tax, the people that you’ve just described, they said it’s going to work because the dollar was going to appreciate by 25% in five years.  That’s a heck of a way to do policy.  To say that the dollar is going to appreciate and that’s going to justify what they’re going to do.   It’s the same thing, a 1.5 trillion, all the money, which over ten years is more like 2.4 trillion, what if there’s no economic growth there?  And that bill comes through, who’s going to pay for that?

Leader Pelosi. Let me also just say this.  Don’t take my word for it.  We had, Mr. Neal had a hearing and the Republicans didn’t come of course, but a hearing about the truth and what is in this bill.  A gentleman, Bruce Bartlett, who had been a part of Jack Kemp’s supply-side economics agenda, proudly so, he said that the whole idea that trickle-down economics pays for itself is not true, nonsense, and he went in to use a vernacular, BS, except he said the words.

There are other economists who espouse trickle-down economics or who consider it, on the conservative side of the ledger, who will tell you the same thing.  The facts do not support what they are saying and for them to try to sell a bill of goods to the American people that this meager give with one hand and take with the other, and let us give a trillion and a half dollars to corporate America, in addition to tax advantages to shift jobs overseas and let them deduct their state and local, and with all of the money that sucks out of the system, sucked up from the middle class to the wealthy and wealthy corporations is going to pay for itself?  Please, please.

When we had the majority, we had pay as you go. Here’s what they have: the middle class pays as the wealthy and the corporations go with money and with jobs overseas.  Thank you all very much.