Democrats Divided on Tax Reform Repeal
By Mark Uncapher
A growing divide has developed among Democrats over whether to campaign for the repeal of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December.
Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who leads the Senate Democrats’ 2018 campaign efforts, is telling his party’s candidates, including politically vulnerable senators, to showcase their continued opposition to the tax law.
“Our members will be talking to these issues,” Van Hollen said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a red state or a blue state, …tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthy are not popular.”
However, vulnerable red-state Democratic senators are not ready to follow Van Hollen’s lead. They take a far more cautious approach than their left-wing leaders and avoid advocating repealing the tax cuts. They are uneasy about the national Democratic Party’s preferred strategy, recognizing that repeal is not popular.
“I think there’s a lot of good things in the tax bill. I just think they went a little too far on some things,” said West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who is running for re-election this fall in a state Trump won by 42 points. “No, I wouldn’t vote to repeal it. I’m not that type of a person,” he said in an interview with AP.
Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana, a state Trump won by 20 points, said he understands that his constituents will benefit from the tax law. He said headlines about bonuses are “all positive,” as far as he’s concerned.
Based on numbers prepared by the office of Democratic Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, a tax cut repeal would reverse the savings of roughly $2.8 billion for Maryland residents during tax year 2018.
Franchot’s office found that 71% of Marylanders will be paying less federal tax, 13% will pay more and 16% will see no change to their federal obligation. Roughly two million taxpayers in the state benefit from the Federal tax law, with an average gain of $1,741 per taxpayer.
The reduced federal tax bite is largely the result of several provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: the doubling of the child tax credit, modifications to the standard deduction allowed for each filing status, changes to federal tax brackets and lower tax rates and a new deduction for qualified business income.
The reality of the tax law’s benefits to Marylanders comes in contrast to the “chicken little” claims made before its passage by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD 8), who said that: “This is a tax bill that would be devastating to middle-class and upper-middle-class earners. It goes without saying—this would be a nightmare for working-class people.”
Clearly, a question worth being asked of Congressional District 6 Democratic Primary candidates Roger Manno, Aruna Miller and David Trone is whether they also would support a repeal of the Tax Reform Act. Supporting repeal would mean a tax hike for most Marylanders who are now enjoying its benefits, and would bring the robust Trump economy to a grinding halt.