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Why I Oppose the GOP Tax Plan

Washington, DC, November 17, 2017

The following is a piece distributed to local newspapers in November 2017

Earlier this month, I sat down with a group of Mainers who would be negatively impacted by the House Republicans’ tax plan. Among them were a teacher, a cancer survivor, a recent college graduate, and a dairy farmer, who all told me how the plan would hurt them and their families.

It was for them—and thousands of other hard-working Mainers—that I voted against the plan. I was incredibly disappointed to see it pass along party lines with the exception of a few Republicans who voted in opposition.

To be clear, I’m not opposed to tax reform that streamlines filing, helps small businesses grow, and offers relief to working families. But this is not that kind of plan—not by a long shot. 

Despite what Republican leaders have said, this is not tax reform for the middle class. This is a giveaway to big corporations, foreign investors, and the wealthiest of the wealthy. If passed by the Senate and enacted, nearly half of the total cuts in this plan would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans. 

As tax cuts for the wealthy grow year by year, they will be reduced for the middle class. In 10 years, 90,000 Maine households earning less than $148,000 annually will actually pay more in federal taxes. Do you think this what tax reform should look like? 

The wealthy get a number of tax breaks in this plan like total repeal of the estate tax. Currently, this tax is charged only when an estate worth more than $5.5 million is inherited by an individual—about 2 of every 1,000 estates. 

The plan also eliminates the alternative minimum tax, which currently ensures that millionaires and billionaires can’t use creative accounting to pay next to nothing in taxes. President Trump’s 2005 tax return, for instance, showed that he would have paid much less if it weren’t for the alternative minimum tax. (Since we haven’t seen his other tax returns, however, we don’t know all the ways he’ll benefit from this plan—but he most certainly will.) 

Meanwhile, Mainers will lose a number of important deductions that help them save on taxes. Teachers won’t be able to deduct the hundreds of dollars they spend out-of-pocket on school supplies for their students. The sick, elderly, and disabled won’t be able to claim thousands of dollars in medical expenses. Students struggling with mounting debt will have to pay taxes on their loan interest. And you will no longer be able to deduct your state income taxes and some property taxes—which essentially amounts to a tax on taxes. 

In all this nickel and diming, the middle class will pay the brunt of benefits for the wealthy—and so will our children. The unfunded bill adds $1.5 trillion to the national debt. Under budget sequestration rules, that could trigger automatic across-the-board cuts. This includes a $25 billion cut to Medicare, the health insurance program that most seniors rely on. 

More cuts could follow in future. Today, GOP leaders are paving the way to create this debt. Tomorrow, they’ll be using it as an excuse to slash spending on programs important to Maine communities.

Hard-working Maine families deserve better than what this plan has to offer. It still has several steps until its final passage and I plan to fight it to the very end. 

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