By Congresswoman Julia Brownley
Originally published in the VC Star
Last week, Republicans in Congress used a procedural gimmick to force through one of the most unpopular tax bills in history, without an iota of Democratic input. They robbed the middle class to give more to the uber-rich and corporations that outsource jobs — just in time for the holidays.
Like a famously greedy figure, this bill steals joy and cheer from families across the country in a Grinch-worthy giveaway to hedge fund managers, real estate developers, oil tycoons and some of America’s wealthiest family dynasties.
There’s no doubt we need a major overhaul of our tax system. A long-lasting, bipartisan agreement to make the code fairer for middle-class families, help small businesses succeed, encourage innovation and incentivize companies to create jobs here is long overdue. Unfortunately, the Republican tax bill is the polar opposite.
Despite dishonest messaging from Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump that this bill helps the middle class, nonpartisan experts found that 86 million middle-class Americans — more than half of all taxpayers — will see a tax increase.
As if this process wasn’t cynical enough, the Ryan-McConnell bill specifically targeted states that did not vote for President Trump, like here in California, where an estimated 5.5 million taxpayers will see tax hikes.
The legislation reduces the state and local deductions that Ventura County families rely on. This will not only raise your taxes but also hurt home values and put pressure on state and local governments to cut services, including education and public safety.
It also limits who qualifies for the property loss deduction that many Americans rely on to rebuild after devastating tragedies. Millions of people whose homes are destroyed through fires or other disasters will no longer be eligible for that deduction, because only those who lost a home in a presidentially declared disaster can use it starting Jan. 1. While homes destroyed in the 2017 California wildfires are excluded from this cruel provision, we know climate change will make wildfires more frequent in the years to come, so without a doubt this will hurt local families.
Just as the Grinch disguised himself as Santa Claus before robbing the Whos of Whoville, the Republicans in Congress tried to disguise their bill as a simplification of the system, when it’s actually riddled with special interest loopholes and kickbacks. It’s sleight of hand to hide the fact that, according to independent tax analysts, 83 percent of the benefits will go to the richest 1 percent of Americans. Quite a Christmas bonus.
Finally, in the same way that the Grinch stole from the Who children, the tax bill steals from our children and grandchildren, adding $1.5 trillion to the debt that future generations will need to pay off. Speaker Ryan has already said he’s going to use this to go after cuts to Medicare and Social Security — because the debt he increased to pay off the rich is just too high to sustain. Dr. Seuss himself couldn’t have conjured up such villainy.
Sadly, while the Grinch eventually found his heart, it seems the Republicans in Congress haven’t found theirs. My fellow Democrats and I stand ready to work on bipartisan policies to grow the economy, increase incomes to keep up with the cost of living, and help middle-class families get ahead. Because just as the Grinch discovered, lies and greed don’t make for a very happy holiday.
The Whos deserved more, and so do the American people.
Congresswoman Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, represents California’s 26th district.
Issues: 115th Congress, Budget, Tax Policy