Tax Bill Would be Disastrous for Hard-Working People

This statement can be attributed to Olivia Golden, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)'s Executive Director.

The U.S. Senate early this morning passed its version of a tax bill that would have devastating consequences for low-income people. The Republican bill significantly cuts taxes for the wealthy and corporations—while deeply damaging people of modest means. These cuts for the wealthiest are partially paid for by changes such as cutting health insurance for an estimated 13 million people through elimination of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s individual mandate and removal of several tax provisions that support postsecondary education. Moreover, the tax bill will ultimately lead to deep cuts to programs that support low-income people.

The Republican tax plan would be a huge step in the wrong direction for this country, providing little or no benefit to working families with the lowest incomes—fully a third of all families—and taking away key tax credits from about a million children in immigrant families, while allowing the majority of the richest people in the country to pass their wealth onto their children without it ever having been taxed.

Furthermore, the independent Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation issued a report on Thursday detailing that over 10 years the Senate bill would create a $1 trillion federal deficit, definitively rejecting claims that the tax cuts would pay for themselves. This deficit would force drastic cuts to critical programs that promote economic mobility such as Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Pell grants, child care, and more.

In addition, the process used by both the House and the Senate to pass their bills has been abominable and a flagrant violation of legislative norms and common sense. Congressional leaders have forced votes before members have even seen the bills (let alone had the chance to read and comprehend the massive documents), and the public has had no opportunity for meaningful engagement in the legislative process.

The Senate tax bill also repeals the ACA’s individual mandate, which the independent Congressional Budget Office estimates will cause 13 million people to become uninsured and will lead to increased premiums across the board for everyone. The American people spoke loud and clear over the summer that the ACA should be preserved and strengthened, but instead Republicans are using the tax bill as a last-resort health care bill in disguise to begin dismantling the ACA and eliminating health insurance for millions of Americans.

The Senate and House will convene a conference committee next week to try to reconcile the differences between the bills passed by the two houses. Both the House and Senate bills are terrible and would imperil the wellbeing of low-income children, families, and individuals. Since there’s minimal benefit in either bill for hard-working people, the conference process is certain to result in a bill that is deeply damaging to most Americans and to the nation’s future. Everyone who cares about low-income people must speak up and advocate for the defeat of whatever reckless and damaging bill results from the conference process.