Las Vegas Sun

August 25, 2019

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Guest Column:

Working Nevada families lose, wealthy win in GOP tax scheme

Right now in Washington, congressional Republicans are in a frenzy to pass their partisan tax bill before the end of the year. Just in time for the holidays, politicians are trying to gift-wrap tax breaks for their billionaire donors and corporate special interests while hardworking families foot the bill.

Desperate to score some sort of political win, Republicans in the House and Senate are now getting ready to throw millions of Americans under the bus — all so they can give the wealthiest Americans and huge corporations a massive tax cut. I was disappointed with the final bill in the House, and I voted against it on Nov. 16.

This reckless and fiscally irresponsible plan will add more than $1 trillion to our national debt. It could trigger a $25 billion annual cut to Medicare, as well as further cuts to other critical programs.

In the House, Republicans eliminated commonsense tax-relief provisions that help families saddled with high-cost medical expenses, students struggling to pay off college loans and teachers trying to buy basic supplies for their classrooms. They terminated a program that incentivizes private investment in public projects and is particularly important to Nevada’s nonprofit hospitals, affordable housing organizations and airports. They put tax credits for solar and geothermal energy on the chopping block, threatening Nevada’s clean-energy economy. They even repealed the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which boosts our businesses that hire veterans and disabled Americans.

I submitted amendments to protect each of these important provisions in our tax code because they unequivocally help Nevada families and businesses. But House Republicans refused to vote on these and hundreds of other reasonable proposals that could have drastically improved this legislation.

Republicans are rushing to get this done, but the underlying math gimmicks behind their tax framework are becoming increasingly clear. The wealthiest 1 percent rake in the vast majority of the benefits, while many low-income and middle-class families in Nevada will actually face a tax hike over time.

The official Joint Committee on Taxation has found that roughly one-fifth of taxpayers would wind up paying higher taxes by 2027 under the House GOP plan. Other nonpartisan groups have reached similarly troubling conclusions.

Good policy usually comes from working across the aisle, and I believe tax reform needs to be tackled with Democrats and Republicans finding common ground. As a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, I signed a letter with more than 30 of my House colleagues to President Donald Trump in February indicating my interest in working together on tax reform issues.

But this attempt at tax reform has been anything but bipartisan. In the House, there were zero votes on amendments on the floor and no full score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office assessing the bill’s full economic impact.

Instead of this one-sided charade, it’s time for comprehensive reform on a broad bipartisan basis that will create a fairer tax code. Trickle-down economics does not work, and tax reform should not be defined as partisan tax cuts for the wealthy and huge corporations. Instead, we should work together to make it more straightforward and less burdensome for regular families and small businesses to pay their taxes.

But as it stands today, the Republican tax plan will tilt the playing field for the rich and increase the economic anxiety of too many Nevada families at their kitchen tables. Our efforts in Congress should focus on what we can agree on: investing in the success of local entrepreneurs to create jobs, helping hard-working families get ahead and reducing our spiraling debt.

Now is the time for Nevadans to speak out and demand a better bill.

Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., was elected in 2016 to serve the 3rd Congressional District.