Senate Democrats stand united against GOP tax bill
GOP tax bill passes through the Senate
Matthew Daly, Associated Press December 3, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — Rarely unified, Senate Democrats stood together in opposing the GOP revamp of the tax code despite the traditional popularity of tax cuts and warnings from President Donald Trump and Republicans about the political cost in next year’s midterm elections.
White House dinners, trips aboard Air Force One and even threats from Trump during campaign stops in their states were not enough to sway Democrats who rejected the nearly $1.5 trillion tax bill early Saturday. Lawmakers voting against the bill included 10 vulnerable Democrats from states Trump won last year, some handily.
When Trump took office 10 months ago, moderate Democrats such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and others were widely expected to break with their party and side with the Republican president.
But on Trump’s top two legislative priorities — taxes and dismantling former President Barack Obama’s health care law — Democrats unanimously rebuffed the GOP president despite his derision.
Trump said Saturday, “We got no Democrat help and I think that’s going to cost them in the election because they voted against tax cuts. I don’t think politically it’s good to vote against tax cuts.”
Democrats argued that the unpopularity of the tax bill with its deep cuts for business and the wealthy and modest changes for many Americans made their votes relatively easy. Multiple polls show the tax bill is supported by less than 40 percent of voters. And Democrats recall a painful political lesson: In 2010, Democrats backed the unpopular health care bill and lost their House majority months later.
“My Republican friends must know that ‘we needed to notch a political win’ isn’t a good enough excuse for a constituent who asks why you voted to raise their taxes but slash them for big corporations,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Friday.
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who was singled out for criticism by Trump at a campaign-style event in Missouri this past week, said her vote against the tax bill — and Trump — “is not risky as long as I do the hard work in making sure Missourians understand what’s in the bill.”
Trump went to her state “and told Missourians something that just wasn’t true,” McCaskill said. “This bill is not helping teachers and police officers and construction workers. This bill is helping wealthy people, and he is among the people it is helping.”
Schumer hasn’t had to do a lot of arm twisting with a caucus whose politics range from liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to Manchin, according to a senior aide. Democrats said they had reasons enough to oppose the GOP bill, which while slashing tax rates for corporations and the wealthy adds more than $1 trillion to the national debt.
“It’s a horrible bill,” said Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, one of the vulnerable Democrats up for re-election in a state Trump won easily.
A third-generation farmer, Tester said if he imposed debt on his family farm at a rate similar to the tax bill, “my kids would go broke.”
Hours before the final vote, Tester released a video on Twitter showing him with a copy of the 479-page tax bill he had been handed minutes before. One page was filled with scribbled policy changes that Tester said he could not be read.
“This is Washington, D.C., at its worst,” he complained.
Heitkamp, who is seeking a second term next year, said the bill’s toll on the national debt made her vote easy.
“The risk is for the fiscal responsibility for this country,” she said. “We all owe a much higher debt — not to a political party or a re-election, but to the people of this country.”
Manchin, who like Heitkamp was considered for a job in Trump’s Cabinet, said he told Trump he wanted to “get to yes” on the tax bill but could not support the bill as drafted by GOP leaders.
“Millionaires, billionaires and gazillionaires should not have tax breaks,” Manchin said in an interview. “That’s what the president told me: It was not going to be for the rich. Well, the bill I have in front of me is not the bill that he talked about” at a White House dinner in September.
Republicans looking to unseat Democrats next year were ready with their criticism.
Rep. Luke Messer, one of several Indiana Republicans seeking to challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, said Donnelly’s opposition to the bill showed he votes with his party’s leadership to block the president’s agenda.
“Once again, it looks like Sen. Donnelly has made his choice, siding with Chuck Schumer over Hoosiers,” Messer said in an argument that is likely to be used against other Democratic incumbents.
Donnelly said the Senate bill “would result in a tax hike for millions of middle-class families while giving a tax cut to the top 1 percent.”
Rep. Lou Barletta, a Pennsylvania Republican who is seeking to challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, said he was surprised Casey opposed the bill in a state where Trump narrowly won last year.
“Blue-collar Democrats in Pennsylvania voted for Donald Trump because they want to see him do exactly what he’s doing now: allowing them to have more money in their pocket, making sure businesses they work at stay here in Pennsylvania and stopping illegal immigrants who compete for their jobs and depress their wages,” Barletta said.
Casey called the GOP plan “an insult” to middle-class families in Pennsylvania who will pay more in taxes “while the super-rich and big corporations get a windfall. It’s obscene.”
Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.
Check out Michael Phelan’s SocialSecurityWorks.org
The government is now referring to our Social Security checks as a “Federal Benefit Payment.” This isn’t a benefit. It is our money paid out of our earned income! Not only did we all contribute to Social Security but our employers did too. It totaled 15% of our income before taxes.
If you averaged $30K per year over your working life, that’s close to $180,000 invested in Social Security.
If you calculate the future value of your monthly investment in social security ($375/month, including both you and your employers contributions) at a meager 1% interest rate compounded monthly, after 40 years of working you’d have more than $1.3+ million dollars saved!
This is your personal investment. Upon retirement, if you took out only 3% per year, you’d receive $39,318 per year, or $3,277 per month.
That’s almost three times more than today’s average Social Security benefit of $1,230 per month, according to the Social Security Administration. (Google it – it’s a fact).
And your retirement fund would last more than 33 years (until you’re 98 if you retire at age 65)! I can only imagine how much better most average-income people could live in retirement if our government had just invested our money in low-risk interest-earning accounts.
Instead, the folks in Washington pulled off a bigger “Ponzi scheme” than Bernie Madoff ever did. They took our money and used it elsewhere. They forgot (oh yes, they knew) that it was OUR money they were taking. They didn’t have a referendum to ask us if we wanted to lend the money to them. And they didn’t pay interest on the debt they assumed. And recently they’ve told us that the money won’t support us for very much longer.
But is it our fault they misused our investments? And now, to add insult to injury, they’re calling it a “benefit”, as if we never worked to earn every penny of it.
Just because they borrowed the money doesn’t mean that our investments were a charity!
Let’s take a stand. We have earned our right to Social Security and Medicare. Demand that our legislators bring some sense into our government.
Find a way to keep Social Security and Medicare going for the sake of that 92% of our population who need it.
Then call it what it is: Our Earned Retirement Income.