Pelosi Floor Remarks Ahead of House Republican Passage of the #GOPTaxScam

December 19, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the United States House of Representatives ahead of House Republicans’ vote for the #GOPTaxScam.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the Gentleman [Richard Neal] for yielding and salute him for his extraordinary leadership in being a champion for America’s working families.  I commend him and the Democratic Members of the House Ways and Means Committee for putting forth the facts on what is in this bill.

Mr. Speaker, today, we choose what kind of country America will be.  One that champions the ladders of opportunity for all, or one that reinforces the power of the wealthiest and well-connected.

Outside the Congress, the American people have already made their decision.  Polling shows that Americans oppose the GOP tax scam by a margin of two to one.  Hard-working families see right through the brazen con-job Republicans are trying to sell them.

So why aren't our Republican colleagues standing with their constituents?  Why aren't they joining us insisting on a Better Deal for American families?  Why aren't they joining us on demanding that we write real bipartisan tax reform that puts the middle class first?  Because helping the middle class has never been their goal.

From day one, the donors, lobbyists and the wealthy and well-connected came first.  The Frankenstein’s monster of giveaways and special interest loopholes we're voting on today proves it -- and this monster will come back to haunt them, as Frankenstein did.  Republicans claim that their bill is a middle class tax cut.  The fact is, according to the Tax Policy Center, their bill raises taxes on 86 million middle class households.  When the Washington Post asked Edward Kleinbard, former Chief of Staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation, if the tax package in aggregate would mean a middle class tax cut, he said, ‘That's delusional or dishonest to say.  It is factually untrue…  The only group you can point to that wins year after year and wins in very large magnitude is the very highest income.’  Joint Committee on Taxation, former Chief of Staff.

The only greater delusion in this bill is the ludicrous Republican insistence – their claim – that these giveaways to the wealthiest will pay for themselves.  As Bruce Bartlett has testified in our hearing and in public – Bruce Bartlett is the architect of Jack Kemp’s supply-side economics.  He said, when it comes to tax breaks for the wealthy paying for themselves, ‘It’s not true, it’s nonsense, it’s B.S.’  He said the whole words.

In a few minutes, Republicans will vote to blow – catastrophically – our national debt – at minimum, 1.5 trillion, likely 2.2 trillion dollars or more.  Where are the vaunted Republican deficit hawks?  Are they endangered?  Are they extinct?  Do they care about the deficit when we pass give-aways for the rich and big corporations – they don’t care about deficits then – tax breaks for the rich, corporate tax rates, ‘We don’t care about the deficit?’  Or do Republicans only care about the deficit when the issue is helping children, seniors, our veterans who are a large part of hard-working Americans.

My colleagues, my fellow Americans: remember this vote.  Remember the vote when they will cheer – after this vote, they will stand up and cheer adding trillions to national debt in order to give tax breaks to wealthiest one percent and to big corporations. They’ll cheer that.  And they’ll cheer when we they say we can’t afford to protect the care of our innocent children – they’ll cheer that.  They cheer when they say we can’t afford – the next step – we can’t afford Medicaid, Medicare and a dignified retirement our seniors spent a life-time earning.  That’s an applause line for them.

And remember this day, when Republicans cheer for a bill that hands a $4,000 child tax credit to families of four earning $400,000 a year. You earn $400,000 a year, you get $4,000 in children’s tax credit.  But if you’re poor, a mother of two earning only 14,500 – guess how much she gets?  75 dollars.  75 dollars.

Today, we gather on this floor in the midst of a holy season.  In this season, we celebrate the miraculous blessings of God.  We reflect on the wondrous joy of children and our responsibility to them.  We remember our duty to live justly, and for those of us who are blessed to serve in this Congress, we must remember our special responsibility to govern fairly, to meet the needs of all of God’s children.  In this time, the moral obscenity and unrepentant greed of the GOP tax scam stands out more clearly.

As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said, early on, here it is: ‘This proposal appears to be the first federal income tax modification in American history that will raise income taxes on the working poor while simultaneously providing a large tax cut to the wealthy.’ The bishops go on to say,  ‘This is simply unconscionable.’

This is in sharp contrast to the words of Senator Hatch – remember what the bishops said.  Now, here, let’s get back to the Republicans.  This is in sharp contrast to the words of Senator Hatch.  He said – he’s the Chairman of the Finance Committee in the United States Senate and the author of this bill and he said, ‘I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything.’  How about that?  Tell that to the moms we just saw speaking out with their children – children with difficulties who wonder, ‘How could this be so cruel?’  This is an act of misery.  Not according to Senator Hatch.

That’s in terms of getting in back to our bishops.  In his encyclical ‘God is Love’ and I’ve said this to you before, my colleagues, with, obviously, no effect on the Republican side – Pope Benedict quoted the urgent moral wisdom of Saint Augustine seventeen centuries ago, my colleagues.  Seventeen centuries ago, Saint Augustine said, ‘A state that does not govern according to justice is just a bunch of thieves.’  Pope Benedict went on to say, ‘The state must inevitably face the question about how justice can be achieved here and now.’  And he cautioned against, in his words, the danger of a ‘certain ethical blindness caused by the dazzling effects of power and special interests.’

My colleagues, is there justice in a bill that rewards corporations for shipping jobs overseas – jobs that could be for hard-working American men and women and veterans – shipping those jobs overseas – is there justice in that?  No.  Is there justice in a bill that spikes health care premiums and adds 13 million Americans to the ranks of the uninsured?  No justice there.  Is there justice in a bill that raises taxes on 86 million middle-class families – raises taxes on 86 million middle-class families and they try to present the delusion that it’s a middle-class tax cut.  Is there justice in a bill that hands a breathtaking 83 percent of its benefits to the wealthiest one percent of Americans?  No.  Eighty-three percent of its benefits to the top one percent.  Is there justice in a bill that explodes the national debt to give to the wealthy and well-connected a break, and sticks the debt with our children?  I didn’t think you thought so.  I wish our Republican colleagues would join us.

The GOP tax scam is simply theft. Monumental, brazen theft – from the American middle-class and from every person who aspires to reach it.  The GOP tax scam is not a vote as an investment in growth or jobs.  It is a vote to instill a permanent plutocracy in our nation.  They’ll be cheering that later.

It does violence to the vision of our founders, it disrespects the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform who are a large part of our middle-class and to whom we owe a future worthy of their sacrifice, and it betrays the future and betrays the aspirations of our children.

It demands – it morally demands – a ‘no’ vote from every Member of this House of the people.  With that, I yield back the balance of my time.