By Robert Menendez
Senate Republicans passed a massive tax increase on New Jersey in the dead of night, ramming through a 500-page bill just hours after introducing it without giving anyone time to sort through the last-minute added giveaways written by corporate lobbyists and special interests.
Republicans are rushing to pass this bill because they don't want the American people to get a whiff of how much it stinks. It slowly siphons billions of dollars from the paychecks of middle-income working families to pay for tax cuts to rich corporate special interests and the wealthiest one percent. We got robbed.
The House and Senate versions of the bill will now be merged, as early as this week, before a final vote sends it to President Trump for signature. It is now up to the American people -- especially in states whacked the hardest by this con-job, like New Jersey -- to make our voices heard and stop this process.
The Republican majority in Congress refuses to accept the reality that, despite borrowing a trillion dollars from China, it's still impossible to permanently slash corporate tax rates from 35 to 20 percent without hiking taxes on millions of working Americans. It's simple math.
Every nonpartisan analysis concludes that millions of working families will eventually wind up paying more under the GOP plan, even when taking into account wild claims of economic growth unleashed by corporate tax cuts.
According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the number of working families who'll be better off shrinks each year as the GOP plan takes bigger and bigger bites out of American paychecks. In 2019, over 38 percent of taxpayers either break even or pay more. Within ten years, that swells to a whopping 88 percent of Americans.
The only people who come out ahead under the Republican plan are already on top. More than 60 percent of the benefits, compared to 27 percent under the Bush tax cuts, are pocketed by the top one percent.
Gutting the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, which has encouraged states like New Jersey to make critical investments for over a century in education, law enforcement, and infrastructure, will effectively double-tax millions of middle class families who make under $200,000 a year.
Nearly 1.8 million residents in our state deduct a combined $17 billion in state and local taxes every year, and 1.6 million New Jersey homeowners deduct another combined $14 billion in annual property taxes. No matter how you slice it, limiting the SALT deduction forces New Jersey families to spend even more to subsidize Americans in less economically productive states, which take more than they ever give back to the federal government.
Don't let anyone tell you this isn't a tax increase. I can't understand how anyone from New Jersey could think this is a good idea. That's why the Fraternal Order of Police, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the National Education Association, the American Hospital Association and so many other groups oppose it.
Some of my GOP colleagues still insist that middle class families will be the big winners in a tax plan that lavishes hugely profitable corporations with trillion-dollar tax cuts. But there's no evidence to back that up.
During the 2005 Bush tax holiday, corporations didn't bring back the billions they stashed overseas to build new factories, increase wages or creating more jobs. The lion's share of that windfall went to CEO raises and stock buybacks for investors on Wall Street. Why should we expect different today?
Democrats have long agreed with Republicans that we need meaningful tax reform, and I would have jumped at the chance to work with my Republican colleagues on real, deficit-neutral tax reform that simplified our tax code, helped more families get ahead, and created a level playing field for small businesses disadvantaged by our current system, which favors powerful special interests.
Instead, Senate Republicans decided from the get-go to go it alone, producing a tax plan that asks middle class families to pay for huge corporate tax cuts with no guarantee that workers see a dime in higher wages. That's in addition to sweeping changes to the Affordable Care Act that will strip health coverage away from 13 million Americans and drive up premiums for everyone, and a trillion-dollar debt increase that Republicans are already using to justify future cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
We have to stop this morally bankrupt bill before it bankrupts our future. The American people understand that a corporate tax cut cannot build a bridge, care for a senior, teach a child, or keep our streets safe. Now it's everyone's responsibility to make sure Republicans in Washington understand too.
Contact your representative in Congress, keep track of their votes.
Robert Menendez, a Democrat, is a U.S. senator from New Jersey.
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