PRESIDENT TRUMP'S TAX PLAN
(House of Representatives - April 27, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 72 (Thursday, April 27, 2017)]
[Pages H2933-H2935]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                       PRESIDENT TRUMP'S TAX PLAN

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2017, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Raskin) is recognized 
for the remainder of the hour as the designee of the minority leader.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Congresswoman Jayapal for leading us 
in this Special Order to discuss President Trump's tax proposal, which 
we received this morning--or last night. The public discussion on taxes 
has been going on for several weeks now in anticipation of the release 
of the President's proposal.
  Hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets, from the East 
to the West, the North to the South, all over America. Hundreds of 
thousands of people marched with a very simple demand to President 
Trump, which is that he follow the precedent and the policy that was 
pursued by the last nine Presidents, going back to Richard Nixon, for a 
half century of releasing his tax returns, something that President 
Trump promised to do as a President, saying he would do it after his 
audit was completed, and then he got into office and then just changed 
his mind and said this would be, I guess, another one of the broken 
promises that he would deliver to the American people.
  So why is this a big deal? Why is it important that we get to see the 
President's taxes?
  Well, America was conceived in popular democratic revolution against 
royalty, against monarchy, against aristocracy. We, as a people, 
overthrew a king who imposed tea taxes on small businesses, on the 
little people, but exempted his tycoon buddies in the East India 
Corporation, a king who constantly sweated the commoners with high 
taxes to pay for his lavish expenses and traveling jaunts and vacations 
around the world with the royal family and the royal court, a king who 
never paid any taxes and never disclosed his own entanglements with 
foreign governments. We rebelled against that kind of government.
  We demand accountability. We demand transparency here.
  Mr. President, please read the Constitution. We have no kings here. 
We have no slaves here. We have no czars here. We have no serfs here. 
We have equal citizens, free citizens with equal rights.
  We allow no titles of nobility here, which is a point you might 
mention to your Secretary of State, who still carries that disgraceful 
title conferred upon him by Vladimir Putin, the Russian Order of 
Friendship.
  In America, no one is above the law and all of us are subject to it. 
As Tom

[[Page H2934]]

Paine put it, in the monarchies, the king is law; but in the 
democracies, the law is king.
  The President of the United States owes an undivided loyalty to the 
people, the laws, and the Constitution of the United States, not the 
oligarchs of Russia, not the businessmen of Azerbaijan, not the hotel 
owners of the world, not the Bank of China, not the dictators and 
kleptocrats and tyrants of the Earth. The President owes undivided 
loyalty to the people of the United States.
  So we ask the question: Where are your taxes?
  How can we determine whether the President has conflicts of interest 
or is collecting illegal emoluments from foreign governments if he 
won't show us the names of the people and the corporations that he is 
in active partnership with all over the world? We simply can't do it.
  How can we dream of undertaking to completely reform and revise the 
tax policy of America unless we see the President's tax returns in 
order to determine whether or not he is going to benefit from the 
policies that he is now advancing? We can't do it.
  Forgive me, but is there anyone left in America who thinks that this 
President would propose a tax reform that would hurt his own 
individual, personal, or business interests? If you believe that, you 
are too innocent to be let out of the house by yourself at this point 
in the Trump administration.
  So then we arrive at work and we receive this. This single piece of 
paper is the Donald Trump tax plan. It is not a bill. It is not a 
study. It is not a plan. There are not even complete sentences in it. 
There are sentence fragments in it. It is not even a press release.
  But it has got a few key ideas, apparently, that he is asking the 
Republicans in Congress to lead us to pass by tomorrow in order to make 
the 100-day deadline which the President has disdained and castigated. 
But he wants to make the 100-day deadline because he understands now 
that there is some kind of milestone that he wants to suddenly be able 
to achieve.
  Well, what is in here?
  Well, first, the Treasury Secretary, Mr. Mnuchin, set out a test for 
tax reform in which he said there will be no absolute tax cut for the 
upper class. Well, this plan totally defies that promise. It betrays 
that promise. It provides a huge tax cut for the wealthy, while middle 
class families receive very little benefit, at the same time that 
social programs are being sliced and diced all over the Federal 
Government.
  We also know that the tax plan will provide a huge benefit to Donald 
Trump himself. Now, we know this only because one of his tax returns 
leaked out, suspiciously, and some think, from the White House, the 
2005 plan, which appeared on TV--nothing before that, nothing after.
  But even taking this 1 year which, presumably, is most in the 
President's favor, President Trump would save over $28 million in taxes 
under the 1-page plan that got passed around Congress today. Most of 
that money comes through the reduction of the pass-through business 
income tax rate, reducing it from the 30 percent range to 15 percent.
  But then it also proposes abolishing, and I know it because it says 
right here, bullet No. 3 under bullet No. 5, repeal the alternative 
minimum tax. He wants to repeal the alternative minimum tax.
  Now, what is this AMT? AMT does not stand for ``all money to Trump.'' 
AMT stands for the alternative minimum tax. And what it means is, if 
you are superwealthy and you have got an army of lawyers on your side 
and you can structure your corporate bankruptcies and your personal 
business losses--of which President Trump has many--in such a way as to 
make it possible for you not to pay any taxes for a long time, the 
alternative minimum tax says, well, there is something that everybody 
has got to pay. There is an alternative minimum tax. We are not going 
to let anybody's clever lawyering bring them below a certain rate.

  On that rule, we know that Mr. Trump, in that 1 year we know about, 
2005--you probably saw it on Rachel Maddow. In that 1 year, he paid 
millions of dollars only because of the existence of the alternative 
minimum tax. In other words, all of his deductions and corporate 
bankruptcies and clever lawyers' tricks that got him down to zero, 
presumably, in all these other years that he won't show us, none of 
them could stop him from having to pay something, because the 
alternative minimum tax says let's not press a good joke too far. We 
understand you are very wealthy. We understand that there are loopholes 
that have been injected to the law, but we are not going to let anybody 
fall below a certain minimum threshold.
  You could think of it kind of like equivalent to the minimum wage for 
working people. The alternative minimum tax is kind of the minimum wage 
that the wealthiest people in the country pay us, as opposed to 
escaping all of their taxes.
  Well, Donald Trump now wants to abolish the alternative minimum tax. 
He just wants to get rid of it. That doesn't sound like a very good 
idea. It is going to dig a superbig hole for us and dig the deficit 
much further.
  Let's talk about the deficit. Well, I thought--look, I love the fact 
that we have got two parties. We should have more parties. It is great 
that we have got a left and a right. A bird can only fly if it has got 
a left wing and a right wing, all right?

                              {time}  1700

  But I thought that the heart of Republican Party orthodoxy is you 
don't blow up the deficit with outrageous tax proposals or spending 
proposals. They call us tax-and-spend liberals. They are cut-the-taxes-
and-spend conservatives. I don't even know what makes them conservative 
anymore. I call myself a liberal because the heart of the word 
``liberal'' is liberty. I call myself a progressive because the heart 
of the word ``progressive'' is progress. And if we are not making 
progress, then what are we doing in government?
  But after seeing this plan, I realize those of us on our side of the 
aisle can call ourselves conservatives, too, because we want to 
conserve the land, the air, the water, the Constitution, the Bill of 
Rights, political democracy, our alliances with foreign governments and 
foreign democracies, Social Security, health care for the people, and 
we want to preserve as much of a balanced budget as we can get to. On 
the other side of the aisle, they are calling themselves conservatives, 
and I don't know why because if they back this proposal, then they are 
blowing a multitrillion-dollar hole in the deficit.
  This plan is not remotely revenue neutral. The earliest estimates are 
that it will blow a 6 or $7 trillion hole in the deficit. That, of 
course, is a way to put unsustainable pressure on the other commitments 
we have made as a Congress, as a people, Social Security commitments to 
the people, and Medicare commitments to the people for health care. We 
cannot afford this irresponsible and reckless tax plan that has been 
sent to Congress by the President. It is a return to discredited, 
failed, supply-side economics. All they can say is they will blow a $7 
trillion hole in the deficit, but they are going to make so much money 
back through all the economic activity that we will be able to make 
money on that. If you believe that, then you will believe Mr. Trump's 
promise that he is going to release his tax returns next year or the 
year after that.
  Look, we do need tax reform in America because this system is 
regressive, and this system is opaquely complex. We need some real 
reform. But this is not remotely the answer, this one-page mimeographed 
sheet of some really bad ideas.
  Let me just say one other thing that seems to have snuck in there: 
repeal the estate tax. They want to repeal the estate tax. This might 
be the greatest betrayal of all--not because President Trump has ever 
supported it, but because the Founders of America were determined to 
have an estate tax. I am talking about Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine, and 
Ben Franklin. The original Americans wanted this to be a country of 
economic opportunity and freedom for people. But they thought the idea 
of inherited wealth passed down from generation to generation was a 
major threat to the idea of political equality and democracy for all. 
They saw that it would be unsustainable if you had huge fortunes--
nowhere near as huge as they are today--but huge fortunes being

[[Page H2935]]

passed down from generation to generation. That would lead us to an 
aristocracy; that would lead us to a monarchy; and that would lead us 
to Presidents of the United States who would think that they don't have 
to show you their income taxes, Presidents of the United States who 
think it is okay to spend public money on fancy vacations for their 
family and Secret Service all over the country and the world and having 
a winter or a summer escape at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, and so on. Go back, 
please, I beseech the citizens of America, read Thomas Jefferson about 
inherited wealth.
  Now, our laws today don't even have the estate tax or the inheritance 
tax starting until millions of dollars. The vast majority of Americans 
are not even affected by it. It applies right now only to the smallest 
sliver of the wealthiest Americans. I think--and forgive me for not 
having the facts in front of me--again, we are just getting this all 
right now, but I think we are now somewhere around $4.5 million. So if 
you die with $4.5 million, your estate is not going to be taxed. That 
is enough to send the kids and the grandkids to college. It is enough 
for people to inherit a house or two houses. That is not bad. But the 
fact that we would tax beyond that means that we are not going to get a 
society that is based on inherited wealth and deep, profound political 
and economic inequality which were totally anathema to the Founders of 
the country, and also, by the way, totally antithetical to the vision 
of Adam Smith who is the big hero to my conservative friends on the 
other side of the aisle.
  Adam Smith was someone who said: You don't want to have inherited 
wealth in a society like that. That is dangerous. It will promote 
idleness and irresponsibility among the people who inherit hundreds of 
millions or billions of dollars. It will increase political 
inequalities and class tension in the society, and it will lead to 
irresponsible behavior by the people who have that kind of wealth.
  People will get the idea that they can buy a public office. In 
America, public office is something that you earn. It is not something 
that you buy; but, right now, there is a model for elective politics 
around the country which is you don't have to be involved in politics, 
you don't have to be involved in social movements, you don't have to be 
involved in public service, and you don't have to do anything for 
anybody. As long as you have got enough money, you can go in, you can 
buy the consultants and the pollsters, and you can go right to the head 
of the class, and then you can get into office.
  What is so dangerous about that? Well, look around the world. What is 
happening? There is a whole new model of government that is popping up 
from Putin's Russia to Duterte's Philippines to Orban's Hungary to Le 
Pen's France. And the model is this: that people get into office, and 
government becomes a moneymaking operation for them and their friends, 
for a tiny elite. That totally contradicts the promise of America. Our 
Founders were concerned with making sure that there would be public 
virtue, that we would put people in office who were committed to the 
common good, to the public interest of everybody, not to the goal of 
enriching themselves or their hotel partners or people they are in 
business with in Russia or in Saudi Arabia or all over the world. 
That is not the model. In America, the government has got to be devoted 
to the people.

  So, America, read the fine print here. This tax plan contradicts 
everything that we were founded on as a country. It upsets the very 
idea of democracy--abolishing the estate tax, abolishing the 
alternative minimum tax, driving all the wealth up the income and 
wealth ladder. That is not America. We have got to stand up for what 
American values really are. We are not Russia. We are not a 
kleptocracy. We are not Azerbaijan. We are not Saudi Arabia. This is 
the United States of America. We need a government that is committed to 
the economic success of every family and of every person.
  So I am urging the public to do exactly what you did with that 
terrible health proposal they came forward with that would have thrown 
24 million Americans off health insurance in order to create hundreds 
of billions of dollars of tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. 
Reject it. Don't accept it.
  America needs to know that all of the protests and the popular 
participation is working. The Women's March set the whole context for 
discussion about what is going to happen here because we know that 
President Trump campaigned like William Jennings Bryan, like he was a 
big populist. He was going to be on the side of the working people. But 
he got in, and the very people he denounced, like Goldman Sachs, have 
come to run his government. It is a Wall Street Cabinet. It is the 
wealthiest Cabinet in the history of the United States. That is who 
this government represents today. That is what this tax plan represents 
today.
  So they are going to try to jam it down Congress over the next 24 
hours. We are going to do everything to stop it. We need the help of 
the American people to stand up and say: No; what is the rush? Let's 
take time, and let's analyze what is in there. Let's see if it is 
consistent with our values. Let's see if it is going to blow a 
multitrillion-dollar hole in the U.S. deficit. Let's see if it is 
sustainable, and let's see if this is the best way to do this.
  This is not a way to run Congress of the greatest democracy on 
Earth--springing things at us in the last minute, just like they did 
with the healthcare plan. The Affordable Care Act that they are so 
eager to slice and dice at this point came about after 70 hearings in 
this body, after a year and a half of debate, and after town meetings 
all over America. Their plan to destroy it they brought in on Monday 
night, and they voted it in on Wednesday with no hearings, with no 
witnesses, with no deliberation and discussion. Now they want to try 
the same magic trick with their tax plan.
  They have got a royal straight flush. Let's be clear, they control 
the House, the Senate, the White House, and now, with the confirmation 
of Mr. Gorsuch, the Supreme Court. All that we have on our side are 
those three beautiful words that kick off our Constitution: we the 
people. We the people have to stand up and say that this is not what 
anybody voted for. It clearly was not what the majority of the country 
voted for because a majority of the people did not vote for Donald 
Trump. But it is not even what the States and the electoral college who 
were on his side wanted. Nobody was talking about a tax plan that would 
bring havoc and ruin to our economy and drive working class and middle 
class people even further into a position of submission to the 
wealthiest people who now appear to want to govern us in all things.
  We don't begrudge anybody their wealth. It is great. This is a 
country where people can get rich. That is great. But your wealth does 
not give you the right to control everybody else. Your wealth does not 
give you the right to govern the rest of America. That is the principle 
at stake here.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

                          ____________________