WASHINGTON – Sen. Michael Bennet sharply criticized Senate Republicans’ proposed tax bill for catering to the wealthy and shortchanging the middle class.
Bennet, D-Colo., fielded questions during a virtual townhall from his Washington office. It was streamed on Facebook live, and the public was invited to write in questions for the senator ahead of the event.
“This bill is based on the premise that cutting taxes at the very top will somehow lead to economic growth for people in the middle or at the bottom,” Bennet said, “and we just haven’t seen that work year after year after year.”
Bennet laid out his three main disagreements with the bill, saying it doubles down on trickle-down economics, overlooks the fact that incomes have not kept up with rising costs of living, and burdens future generations with trillions of dollars in debt.
The Senate plan passed the Budget Committee Tuesday, and that sends it for a vote by the full Senate later this week.
Republicans in both chambers introduced tax-reform legislation earlier this month, and the House’s version has already passed.
One key difference between the House and Senate plans is that the Senate plan repeals the individual mandate for health insurance, one of the most unpopular parts of the Affordable Care Act.
The Congressional Budget Office released a report Sunday saying the repeal of the individual mandate would result in 4 million people losing insurance by 2019, and up to 13 million people losing insurance by 2027.
These losses could lead to a domino effect in which some see their premiums increase so much that they would actually be worse off after the tax cuts, according to Bennet.
In addition to coverage losses, the report also said those making up to $40,000 a year will pay more in overall taxes by 2021, a trend that will continue until the bill sunsets in 2027.
Bennet said he did agree that tax reform needs to be addressed and that he wanted to see corporate tax rates that are competitive with the rest of the world. However, he said the proposed bill is “too stacked” for those already doing well and needs to be reworked before he is willing to sign on.
Instead, he would like to see a bill with measures increasing the child tax credit and expanding earned income tax credits for those closer to the poverty line.
Some are speculating that Democrats might use an upcoming budget vote to stall the tax bill and potentially cause a government shutdown. Lawmakers have until Dec. 8 to vote to keep the government funded.
However, Bennet said he was not even considering using the shutdown as leverage on the tax bill.
“I think we should stay here and stay here through end of the year, stay here through the holidays and do the job we were sent here to do,” said Bennet.
“There is a path forward.”
Samuel Northrop is an intern for The Durango Herald and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.