Weekly Democratic Address
April 13, 2018
Hi, I’m Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island.
The folks I talk to in my state often tell me they’re frustrated with the situation in Washington. They tell me it seems like the big money is in charge, that they don’t get a fair shot. They see a Congress and administration that cater to big corporations and wealthy political donors, instead of working on smart policies to help people get ahead or making real investments that grow our economy and create jobs.
Well, as Americans go online and line up at the post office this weekend to file their tax returns, many feel that the tax system has been rigged to favor billionaires and special interests. The massive tax giveaway Republicans just pushed through Congress and President Trump signed into law late last year is proof positive. It turns Tax Day into payday for the most well-off, delivering enormous giveaways to the wealthy and well-connected. The Koch Brothers are among the biggest funders of the Republican Party, and they appear to have reaped billions of dollars off of this tax bill, so much that they even threw a $50,000 tip to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s political fund as a gesture of appreciation.
But workers are not seeing the benefits of the huge tax cuts that went to the companies they work for. Only a fraction of the savings corporations won in the tax bill is showing up in employees’ paychecks.
So what are corporations using that money for? Well, a lot of it is buying back their own stocks. In total, since the Republicans passed their tax bill, corporations have spent more than 235 billion, that’s billion with a B, billion dollars buying back stock. That is a staggering 37 times as much as they have spent on workers’ bonuses or wage increases. Now that’s great for big shareholders, and it jacks up CEO compensation, because it jacks up share prices, but it’s not much help for workers.
Instead of simplifying the tax code, the Republican tax bill makes the international tax system more complex, and it evens offers special low tax rates to companies that move jobs and assets overseas. That’s just wrong.
Not only is the Republican tax bill unfair to working families, it’s also blowing a hole in the federal budget. Republicans told us their tax cuts for the top earners would magically pay for themselves, but this week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the deficit will balloon to nearly 1 trillion dollars next year, and keep growing over the coming years. The Trump GOP tax bill alone will add nearly two trillion dollars to our nation’s deficit over the next 10 years.
What’s up next? Republicans are not even trying to hide the fact that they’re going to use the huge deficit they created as an excuse to go after Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security Well, not on our watch.
Democrats believe the tax code should be fair for all workers. We believe in investing in our communities, in the roads and schools and tech infrastructure that help build a strong workforce and move our economy forward, and we believe that Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid have to be there, particularly, for the men and women who have paid into them over a lifetime of hard work. We’re working hard to keep the President and Republicans in Congress accountable to you, the taxpayers, not just the wealthy and well-connected, who run the dark money in our politics and get paid back through tax breaks.