Democratic Congresswoman hammers GOP Tax Scam

Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)

If you want to see how to conduct a hard-hitting line of questioning, look no further than the House Ways and Means Committee‘s November 6 hearing on the markup of the Republicans’ wildly misnamed “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” The Democrats have already termed the Republicans’ bill the “GOP Tax Scam” for its central elements of cutting taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations, adding well over a trillion dollars to the national debt, and trying to make up for some of the shortfall by taking away important deductions for middle and lower income Americans, including home mortgages, medical expenses, state and local taxes, student loans, and teacher classroom expenses. Corporations, however, would not have to give up these or comparable deductions under the GOP Tax Scam. At last week’s hearing, Democratic Congresswoman Suzan DelBene of Washington took this theme one step further, by calmly asking a series of simple questions to Tom Barthold, the Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation. As seen here in the video and in the transcript below, DelBene’s questions cut to the heart of the GOP Tax Scam’s fundamental unfairness:

DelBene: Will a teacher in my district who buys pens, pencils, paper for his students be able to deduct these costs from his tax returns under this plan?

Barthold: H.R. 1 would repeal the above the line deduction for teacher expenses.

DelBene: Will a corporation that buys pens, pencils and papers for its workers be able to deduct those costs from its tax returns under this plan?

Barthold: The general deduction for ordinary and necessary business expenses by any business entity is not changed so it need not be a corporation.

DelBene: So they would?

Barthold: Yes.

DelBene: Will a firefighter from my district be able to deduct the state and local sales taxes that she pays from her tax returns under this plan?

Barthold: As noted previously, the itemized deduction for the election of either state or local income taxes would be repealed under H.R. 1.

DelBene: And will a corporation be able to deduct sales taxes on business purchases under this plan?

Barthold: Sales taxes incurred as part of the production of income would remain deductible.

DelBene: So they would. Will a homeowner in my district be able to deduct more than $10,000 in property taxes under this plan?

Barthold: Real estate taxes under H.R. 1 would be capped at $10,000 itemized deduction.

DelBene: Okay. Will a corporation be able to deduct more than $10,000 in property taxes under the plan?

Barthold: Again under the same rule I was describing as ordinary and necessary business expenses, the taxes attributable to earning income would be deductible, so the short answer is yes.

DelBene: And if a worker in my district had to move because his employer is forcing him to relocate his family or potentially lose his job, can he deduct his moving expenses under this plan?

Barthold: That above the line deduction is also repealed, Ms. DelBene.

DelBene: He would not be able to?

Barthold: Correct.

DelBene: But if a company, a corporation, decides to close its facilities in my district, fire its workers, and move its operation to China, say, can it deduct associated moving expenses under this plan? Or, stated another way, can a corporation under this plan deduct outsourcing expenses incurred in relocating a U.S. business outside of the United States?

Barthold: Outside the United States or in the United States, those would be deductible expenses.

Back in January 2014, we pointed out a very effective technique that we named “first the facts, then attack.” DelBene did just that, by establishing the facts in last week’s hearing, and then afterward, attacking the fundamental unfairness of the GOP Tax Scam. For example, here’s Del Bene’s tweet from three days after the hearing:

Congresswoman DelBene has used simple and effective techniques to highlight the heartless policies of the Republican Party. In the coming days, as Republicans try to rush their GOP Tax Scam proposal through Congress, we will see if her work yields results.

Photo by The Hill Events, used under Creative Commons license.

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