April 17 (UPI) — WASHINGTON — Tax Day on Capitol Hill featured some political theater as Democratic congressional leaders, labor unions, and advocates for children and seniors Tuesday blasted President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan for pushing through a tax reform law that adds about $1 trillion to the federal deficit.
Chanting “we won’t let it stand” under cloudy skies and with frigid wind whipping across the Capitol lawn, more than 100 members of Congress and tax cut opponents rallied over their fear that social services such as Medicaid will be cut to help to try to trim the deficit.
Republicans are “mortgaging our children’s future,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said.
The rally’s focus changed from last year’s Tax March demanding that Trump release his tax returns to the effect the “Trump tax” reform, enacted at the end of 2017, will have on working families. Since Saturday, more than 100 anti-tax cut events have taken place across the country, said Nichole Gill, executive director of Tax March.
“Not one penny in tax cuts should go to millionaires and billionaires in wealthy corporations,” Gill said. “Since that is essentially what the Trump tax does, we want to repeal it.”
According to Gill and Pelosi, 83 percent of the tax cuts in the bill will go to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, and the majority of American workers will not see any benefit. Many working class families will end up paying more as a result of the legislation, they said.
The connection is clear, Gill said, noting that Charles Koch — the 6th richest person in the world — and his wife, Elizabeth Koch, donated more than $500,000 to “Team Ryan,” a fundraising committee comprised of Ryan’s re-election campaign, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the speaker’s leadership political action committee. Speaker Ryan announced his plan to retire in January last week.
“If you’re proud of your accomplishments, you don’t quit and you don’t run,” Gill said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., lambasted members of Congress for providing billionaires with tax breaks instead of focusing on raising Social Security for senior citizens, rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure or providing affordable education to college-age citizens.
“The idea that when we have massive income and wealth inequality, they want to give tax break to billionaires and cut programs that the middle class, that the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor need is morally reprehensible,” Sanders said.
Alan Viard, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said in an interview that 65 percent of taxpayers will get some kind of reduction in the early years following the implementation of the tax bill.
But the Congressional Budget Office projected the legislation will add more than $1 trillion to the to the national debt. Budget cuts to lessen the debt in the future could fall on the middle class, Viard said.
“We know how they will try to pay off this debt: They’re coming after Medicaid,” said Elena Hung, president and co-founder of Little Lobbyists — an organization that advocates for kids with complex medical needs.
Fifteen minutes after Hung’s daughter was born, the infant was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where she remained for the next five months. Since then she’s seen more than a dozen specialists and had countless medical procedures. She uses a tracheostomy and a ventilator to breathe and a feeding tube for all of her nutrition, Hung said.
Medicaid paid for numerous therapies, the special education program she’s enrolled in through the local public school and community support services Hung relies on to keep her at home instead of in a specialized institution.
“I’m here to say, ‘Thank you, Medicaid,’” said Hung, her voice breaking. “I’m here to say not one penny for corporations and the wealthy at the expense of our children’s future.”
Meanwhile, the White House spent Tax Day touting its reform efforts, which it said will help taxpayers save more money in the future.
Highlighting the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Trump signed into law last year, the White House called Tuesday the “last ‘Tax Day’ under the old system.”
“When we began our push for tax cuts, I promised that our bill would result in more jobs, higher wages, and tremendous relief for middle-class families, and that is exactly what we have delivered,” Trump said in a statement.
By April 15, 2019, taxpayers will see the difference in their tax return, Trump said.
The White House predicts about two-thirds of all households will see lower marginal income tax rates in 2018. It also expects taxes to decline across all income groups.
As a result of the tax reform, taxpayers will have lower individual tax rates and nearly double the standard deduction, from $6,500 to $12,000 for individuals and from $13,000 to $24,000 for married couples, according to the statement.
Other changes include a new $500 tax credit for dependents age 17 or older, an expanded medical expense deduction, elimination of the mandate penalty tax and an expanded use of 529 education savings accounts.
According to the non-partisan Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, the tax cuts will be short-lived and though 80 percent of Americans will a tax cut this year, 53 percent will pay higher taxes in 2027, a number that increases to 70 percent for those making between $54,700 and $93,200.
Tax forms will be simplified under the new plan because of the increased standard deduction, Trump said.
“Americans deserve a tax code that enables them to file their taxes without an army of lawyers and accountants and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will help do just that,” according to the statement. “Dozens of special interest tax breaks and loopholes have been eliminated, which will raise $4 trillion in revenue to help offset tax cuts for American workers and families.”
Republicans, hoping the massive tax overhaul secures seats in the midterm election, have run nearly 17,800 ads this year that tout tax reform, resulting in Democrats fighting back with commercials that slam the tax cuts as helping the wealthy, and endangering the future of Medicare and Social Security.