U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in weekly Democratic address calls GOP tax plan 'the opposite of what we need' - Colorado Politics
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U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in weekly Democratic address calls GOP tax plan ‘the opposite of what we need’

Author: Ernest Luning - November 25, 2017 - Updated: November 25, 2017

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U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, talks about the Republican tax plan making its way through Congress in the Weekly Democratic Address, released Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. (Via YouTube)
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, talks about the Republican tax plan making its way through Congress in the Weekly Democratic Address, released Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. (Via YouTube)

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado on Friday sounded the alarm over Republican-sponsored tax legislation steaming its way through Congress, charging the bill only helps the very wealthy at the same time it adds to everyone else’s burdens — all while exploding the national debt.

“As early as next week the United States Senate may vote on a tax bill — an incredibly consequential piece of legislation affecting our entire economy for decades to come,” Bennet says in the national Weekly Democratic Address. “Written in secret, this bill is being rushed to the floor without hearings or the chance for the American people to weigh in.”

Saying he hopes everyone is well rested after enjoying Thanksgiving, Bennet asks listeners to contact their representatives and demand tax reform “that lifts every family.”

“Democrats are committed to working in a bipartisan way to accomplish responsible tax reform that actually grows our economy and creates jobs,” Bennet says. But the partisan bill that’s in front of us is the opposite of what we need.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has set the bill on a fast track through the chamber this week, after a different version of the legislation passed the House earlier in November.

The House and Senate tax bills would slash corporate tax rates from 35 to 20 percent but only cut individual tax rates temporarily while eliminating popular write-offs and deductions.

New analyses released this week found the revised Senate plan could add as much as $2.4 trillion to the long-term national debt, the Associated Press reported. According to the Tax Policy Center, taxes on average would be reduced across all income groups, but 9 percent of taxpayers would pay more when the plan takes effect in 2019, and half would pay more by 2027, when the individual tax cuts expire.

Republicans argue lower business taxes will kick the economy into high gear, paying for the tax cuts, but a Penn Wharton suggests growth will only be between 0.3 and 0.8 percent higher in 10 years than without the tax cuts — not enough to meet the economic projections the plan’s backers are predicting.

According to Bennet, individuals with more than $1 million in annual income will see their taxes drop by about $59,000 a year, compared with families making $50,000 or less, who will see their fall, on average, by $160.

Bennet recalled a mother he spoke with recently in the town of Rifle, saying she told him she has to work to get health insurance but spends everything she earns to pay for child care so she can work.

“The central challenge with our economy is not that people at the top don’t have enough,” Bennet says in the weekly address. “It’s that incomes for everyone else — like that mom in Rifle — haven’t kept pace with rising costs of housing, health care, higher education, and childcare.”

It’s the first time Bennet has delivered the party’s weekly address solo, though he was one of seven Democratic senators talking about different aspects of the Affordable Care Act in a joint address on July 7.

It’s been traditional since early in President George W. Bush’s administration for the party that doesn’t hold the White House to deliver a weekly address as counter-programming to the president’s weekly address, as Republicans did when President Barack Obama was in office. Bennet’s Republican colleague, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, delivered the Weekly Republican Address four times — once when he was a House member, in 2012, and three times last year, after he had become a senator.

Bennet’s remarks as delivered are reproduced below: 

“Hello everybody. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving.

And we extend a special thanks to the incredible men and women serving every day to protect us from harm and defend the freedoms we cherish.

In many ways, this has been a difficult year, and our politics can often seem irredeemably broken. But Thanksgiving is also a time to step back and remember that we have so much more in common than the partisan bickering that fills our television screens.

I know that all of us sitting around the Thanksgiving table want something better for our kids and our grandkids–to leave them a country with a future brighter than its past. But that will only be true if we do for them what our parents and grandparents did for us. We now face a test of our commitment to providing that future.

As early as next week the United States Senate may vote on a tax bill — an incredibly consequential piece of legislation affecting our entire economy for decades to come. Written in secret, this bill is being rushed to the floor without hearings or the chance for the American people to weigh in.

As the vote approaches, I’m reminded of a mom I met in the small town of Rifle, Colorado at an early childhood center. In the course of our conversation, she said to me, ‘I have a job so I can have health insurance, and every single dollar I earn goes to pay for this early childhood center, so I can work.’

Too many Americans face this cycle, living each day with impossible choices their parents and grandparents were never asked to make.

Yet, under the Republican tax plan, people making over $1 million a year would receive tax cuts of about $59,000 per year, while families earning $50,000 or less would see just $160 — or $7.50 more each paycheck. Tens of millions of middle class families would actually see their taxes go up.

And even though sabotaging our health care system has no place in a tax bill, Republicans doubled down by adding a provision at the last minute that would cause 13 million Americans to lose health insurance and premiums to rise by 10 percent.

The central challenge with our economy is not that people at the top don’t have enough. It’s that incomes for everyone else — like that mom in Rifle — haven’t kept pace with rising costs of housing, health care, higher education, and childcare.

The question before us is: are we going to ease that burden, or add to it? This bill helps the relatively small number of families that make over $1 million a year and adds to the burden of others. That alone should be enough for us to scrap this approach, but what’s even more stunning is that it does this while adding at least $1.5 trillion, and perhaps as much as $2.5 trillion, to our debt.

Our kids will bear that burden and the debt will restrict their future. America’s children don’t have a vote in the United States Senate. The generation after them doesn’t have a vote.

We owe them the freedom to make their own choices, the same freedom our parents and grandparents had the decency to provide for us.

And that’s why I hope you’re well rested – because this week, we’ll need to raise our voices and fight for that future. Democrats are committed to working in a bipartisan way to accomplish responsible tax reform that actually grows our economy and creates jobs. But the partisan bill that’s in front of us is the opposite of what we need. Please take the time to let your representatives know that you want tax reform that lifts every family. Thank you.”

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.


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