Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) presented contrasting visions for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in separate op-eds on Tuesday.
McConnell charged in his op-ed, “After a decade of sluggish growth and stagnant paychecks, our country is back on the right track. Optimism is sweeping across the country, and the economy is finally gaining momentum.”
The Senate majority leader cheered the president’s most significant legislation passed in his first year, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
In a once-in-a-generation effort, the Republican-led Congress passed comprehensive tax reform legislation last year helping middle-class families, small businesses and workers keep more of their hard-earned money. In other words, we took money out of Washington’s pocket and put it back in the pockets of the middle-class families who earned it. The historic tax law also repealed Obamacare’s unpopular individual mandate tax, which disproportionally impacted low- and middle-income families by forcing them to purchase health insurance plans they often didn’t want or couldn’t afford.
Schumer disagreed with the president about the benefits of the Republican tax reform legislation, saying, “the president and Republicans in Congress gave away $1.5 trillion to provide tax breaks for mammoth corporations and a handful of wealthy people.”
Reports suggested that over one million Americans will receive a bonus of up to $3,000 thanks to the tax cut legislation, and American consumer sentiment reached its highest level since 2000.
The Republican tax reform bill also repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate as well, however, much of Obamacare remains intact thanks to the efforts of Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) who blocked several Obamacare repeal bills in Congress’ upper chamber. Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Rob Portman (R-OH) along with the aforementioned senators also shot down Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) clean Obamacare repeal bill. All of these senators, except for Sen. Collins, voted to rescind Obamacare in 2015.
The Republican-controlled Congress repealed many Obamacare regulations through the use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA).
“After years of stifling overreach, Congress and the White House delivered regulatory relief by helping reverse Obama-era regulations, which devastated coal communities, like those in Kentucky. We repealed a wide range of burdensome regulations, from rules that were harmful to coal families to regulations on how teachers prepare their curriculums to a rule forcing states to fund Planned Parenthood,” McConnell wrote.
The leader of the Senate also noted that through the recent short-term government spending bill, Congress managed to pass the longest extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
McConnell also noted that President Trump will outline his infrastructure package in his State of the Union speech; the Senate majority leader hopes to pass a bipartisan bill to address America’s infrastructure needs.
“Our network of roads, bridges, airports and waterways is critical to nearly every segment of our economy, and working with the administration, we can develop a bipartisan plan to help businesses get their products to consumers and help all of us travel more safely and efficiently, ” McConnell added.
Schumer agreed with the president about the need for infrastructure, however, he disagreed about how to fund and implement such an investment into the nation’s roads, bridges, and highways.
Sen. Schumer claimed, “On this issue, Democrats agree with the president: America’s physical infrastructure is the backbone of our economy, and we have fallen behind. If we do not quickly repair and modernize our infrastructure, we risk ceding the next century of global economic leadership to China or India.”
In contrast to the president’s plan, which Schumer explains will utilize “private companies or states and localities to put up the lion’s share of the money,” Schumer wants to pay for a massive infrastructure project through “major direct federal investment in infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, Schumer did not address the looming issue of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) illegal aliens in his op-ed, while McConnell said that he hopes that “ongoing negotiations will lead to results that address DACA, border, security, and other related immigration issues.”
McConnell concluded, “During the State of the Union, President Trump can herald the many accomplishments of his first year in office and lay out his vision for the second. As he discusses the strong state of our union, I will be proud to stand up and applaud.”