With Democrat Doug Jones scoring a huge upset in the Alabama senate election, Republican lawmakers are facing even more pressure to ram through a final tax bill by the end of the year.
If negotiations to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions drag out until after Jones is sworn in, a “no” vote from just one more Senate Republican would be enough to block the legislation. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is already steadfastly opposed.
Rather than rushing it through, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on the GOP to commit to not holding a vote on the final legislation until after Jones is seated. Several other Democrats demanded that Jones be allowed to immediately take his seat.
A slowdown would give the public more time to learn about the bill and all the ways it’s designed to further enrich the wealthy. In this video, I had the opportunity to identify just a few of the provisions hidden in the GOP tax plans that are designed to stick it to the poor and middle class.
One of the Senate bill provisions that struck me as particularly petty would ban employers from giving their employees gift cards as end-of-year bonuses. Apparently these Republican lawmakers are determined to prevent ordinary American workers from pocketing a $25 or $50 gift card for Home Depot or Target without reporting it as taxable income.
Other examples of bias against the middle class include provisions to prohibit teachers from deducting the cost of school supplies and to force graduate students to pay income taxes on tuition waivers. The House version would also repeal the deduction families can take for medical costs that exceed 10 percent of their income.
Meanwhile, these same politicians are planning to dole out billions of dollars in tax breaks to the very wealthiest Americans. According to the Tax Policy Center, by 2017, 62% of the tax cuts would go to the richest 1%.
While the Alabama race was dominated by questions of sexual misconduct rather than tax fairness, Jones did raise objections on the campaign trail to the GOP tax plan, saying it was “overloaded” with tax breaks for the wealthy. And exit polls show that support for President Trump among Alabama voters has declined dramatically since the 2016 election. Trump won 62 percent of votes last year. On Tuesday, only 48 percent of Alabama voters said they now approved of his performance.
“Americans in even the reddest areas firmly reject the Trump-GOP agenda,” said Frank Clemente, Executive Director of Americans for Tax Fairness, in a statement after the election upset. Like Senator Shumer, Clemente also called on the GOP to slow down the process to “allow the nation’s newest Senator to have a vote on this legislation that will affect the next generation.”