Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday previewed what could become a core element of Democratic opposition to a GOP tax bill: that the mounting recovery bills from back-to-back Gulf Coast hurricanes make any deficit-financed tax cuts unacceptable.
After President Donald Trump seized on Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to call for quick congressional action on tax cuts, Schumer delivered a brushback to the White House he struck a surprising fiscal deal with just last week.
“With all due respect to the president, a tax cut, particularly one for the very wealthy, is not going to help Florida or Texas rebuild from these storms,” the New York Democrat said on the Senate floor.
“And the president has it entirely backward in another way. We’re about to add billions to the deficit to rebuild parts of our country, something we absolutely should do because it’s an emergency. But that makes it even more important that tax reform be fiscally responsible and deficit-neutral. Not tax cuts.”
Republicans have yet to settle on whether their forthcoming tax legislation will be deficit-neutral. Employing reconciliation to shield the bill from a Senate filibuster would prevent the GOP from padding the deficit in the long term, but a shorter-term deficit-funded tax cut plan could pass muster.
Even as Trump courts moderate Democratic support for a tax package, all but three of the party’s senators are already aligned in opposition to any bill that adds to the deficit. Schumer’s invocation of the hurricanes, then, is poised to recur as Democratic leaders work to keep their caucuses unified against any GOP tax cut proposals.
“It’s crazy Congress wants tax cuts when we are about to see biggest disaster package ever,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) tweeted on Friday. “We should wait, and do only what we can afford.”