Menendez on GOP Tax Plan: “One Giant Hit-Job on New Jersey’s Middle Class”

Menendez on GOP Tax Plan: “One Giant Hit-Job on New Jersey’s Middle Class”

   

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In remarks today on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) outlined the damage the Republican tax plan would do to families in New Jersey, saying it “reads like one giant hit-job on New Jersey’s middle class.”

 

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Senator Menendez’s remarks follow: 

“I come to the floor today painfully aware of the many reasons to oppose this reckless, wasteful Republican tax bill.  It’s a shame, because I still believe we need smart tax reform that puts working families and small businesses first, and that prepares America to compete in the 21st century.  But that’s not what we’ll be voting on this week.  We’re voting on the Trump tax plan this week, a plan Republicans hope to ram through the Senate with just 51 votes.  

“With 51 votes, Republicans will raise taxes on millions of middle class families and those working to join the middle class.  With 51 votes, Republicans will hand huge tax cuts to big corporations with no strings attached, no guarantees that workers see higher wages.  With 51 votes, they will take health coverage away from 13 million Americans and hike premiums for everyone else.  With 51 votes, they will saddle our children and grandchildren with another $1.5 trillion in debt.

“Any one of these reasons is reason enough to oppose the Trump tax plan.  But for me, as the Senior Senator from New Jersey – a state of nearly 9 million people; a state with the 8th most productive economy in America -- I cannot and will not support a tax bill that reads like ONE GIANT HIT-JOB on New Jersey’s middle class.

“Just how bad is the Trump tax plan for New Jersey?  Well, take the House version – a bill so awful that 11 out of 12 members of Congress from New Jersey voted against it – and make it worse.   The Senate bill is worse because it totally eliminates the state and local tax deduction, or SALT deduction. 

“Even President Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow recently said, ending the SALT deduction will hurt – “a lot of different people.” And a lot of those people who get hurt live in New Jersey.  In 2015 alone, nearly 1.8 million New Jersey households deducted a combined $17 billion in state and local taxes from their federal tax bills.  And over 1.5 million New Jersey homeowners with sky-high property taxes deducted nearly $15 billion that same year.

“These taxpayers aren’t high-rollers. They are middle class families who had to work hard to achieve the American dream.  In fact, tax data tells us that 83 percent of New Jerseyans who claim the SALT deduction make under $200,000 year, and about half make under $100,000 a year.  The families who get hurt live every corner of our state.  From Ocean County, where it will cost taxpayers $1.3 billion, to Burlington County, where it will cost taxpayers $1.37 billion, to Passaic County where it will cost taxpayers $1.16 billion in deductions.

“It’s wrong, just plain wrong, to ask these hardworking families -- folks who weren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouths, who had to work hard for every dollar they have, who had to fight their way into the middle class – it is wrong to ask them to pay more just so that big corporations pay less and those born to multi-million-dollar inheritances pay nothing at all.    

“Ending the SALT deduction will literally force New Jersey families to pay taxes twice on the same money.   And rubbing SALT in their wounds is the fact that Republicans let corporations keep on deducting their state and local taxes – on top of the huge tax cuts lavished on them by the Trump tax plan.   If protecting the SALT deduction is so important for big corporations that make billions of dollars a year, surely my Republican colleagues can imagine how important it is for a middle class family in a state like New Jersey to keep it. 

“Quite frankly I’m sick and tired of Congress treating New Jersey like America’s piggy bank.  My constituents already pay too much in taxes. New Jerseyans can’t afford to subsidize the rest of America more than we already do.  And yet Republicans now want to dig even deeper into the wallets of New Jersey’s middle class with the Trump tax plan.

“To borrow an old phrase from the Lower Trenton Bridge – what New Jersey makes, the GOP takes.

“Now, some have speculated that this tax bill was designed to punish Americans who live in so-called blue states.  And certainly, I wouldn’t put it past an Administration as cynical as this one to punish states that voted against Trump in the 2016 election.  But ultimately, M. President, this isn’t about red states or blue states.  It’s time we start calling these states what they really are.

“These aren’t blue states - they are America’s blue-chip states.  They are America’s innovation states.  America’s economic powerhouse states!  States like New Jersey are home to millions of makers – not takers.  And we’re proud of it.

“But our success didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen by accident.   New Jersey’s success is predicated on our priorities and investments.  New Jersey is a donor state precisely because we invest in public schools and higher education, so that New Jerseyans continue driving innovation in fields like biotechnology and agriculture and medicine.  New Jersey is a donor state precisely because we invest in mass transit and infrastructure, so that workers can commute to high-paying jobs in New York City and Philadelphia… And family and friends in nearby states can easily travel to the Jersey shore.

“New Jersey is a donor state precisely because we invest in public health and law enforcement, because we’re stronger when we have safe communities and a healthy workforce… In fact the Fraternal Order of Police says that ending the SALT deduction will hurt states’ ability to recruit the “men and women that keep us safe.”

“In short, New Jersey is a donor state because we believe in opening the doors of opportunity to as many people as possible.  That’s how a small state like New Jersey continues to punch above its weight economically…to the benefit of ALL Americans… and especially Americans who live in less productive states that are more reliant on federal spending.

“For more than a century, the SALT deduction has encouraged states to invest in education, in infrastructure, in opportunity for all.  And it’s ironic that Republicans who talk so much about supporting the states want to single out those like New Jersey and Virginia and Massachusetts that invest in the middle class.

“That’s why Senator Cantwell and I will be introducing an amendment to protect the SALT deduction and I hope a majority of colleagues see the value in it.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard my colleagues on the Republican side talk about protecting – and not punishing – success.  Well, no matter how you slice it, ending, limiting, or capping the SALT deduction is a massive tax on the success of states like New Jersey.   

“The Trump tax plan will raise taxes on millions of middle class families across America.  Not in a few years. Or a decade.  Immediately.  And I refuse to support a tax bill that enriches the few at the expense of the many, that saddles our children with trillions in debt, that sets the stage for Republican cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and that punishes the success of millions of hardworking middle class families in states like New Jersey.  That’s not something I’m not willing to do.”

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