Editor’s note: Tuesday, we published a column by U.S. Congressman Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, promoting much of the House GOP Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Now, Gov. Jay Inslee has sent a letter to the Washington state congressional delegation urging them to reject the Republican tax proposals. Here are excerpts from that letter:
Dear Members of the Washington State Congressional Delegation:
I write today to inform you how the Republican tax proposals in Congress would adversely impact our state. It is clear this plan will be damaging to Washington in numerous ways, including hiking taxes on middle-class families, exacerbating homelessness, harming workers’ retirement security, worsening student debt, and more.
The plan represents a massive giveaway to the wealthy and special interests, and it blows a $1.5 trillion hole in the federal budget. I strongly urge the members of our congressional delegation in the House of Representatives to oppose the House version of the GOP Tax Plan — to be considered this week.
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To start, I am gravely concerned that leaders in Congress are pursuing such an aggressive timeline for the enactment of sweeping, partisan legislation that has significant ramifications for our state’s economy and its people.
The decision to release these proposals publicly less than a month before they are scheduled to be voted on means federal lawmakers and our state — not to mention your constituents — have been given no meaningful opportunities for input on wide ranging tax proposals that affect each and every Washingtonian. That should be considered an essential step to crafting thoughtful policy that benefits, rather than harms, our state.
According to non-partisan analysis from the Tax Policy Center, nearly 50 percent of the financial benefits of the House GOP plan would accrue to the wealthiest one percent of taxpayers, while the vast majority of middle- and lower-income Americans — including Washingtonians — would either see little benefit or face negative consequences.
Indeed, 31 percent of America's middle-class families would actually see a tax increase under the proposal. The proposal in the Senate, while marginally better, also represents an unacceptable windfall for special interests and the wealthy to be paid for by hard-working families.
The Senate bill would increase taxes on more than 21 million middle-class households, according to an initial estimate from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), while delivering a tax cut to 78 percent of millionaires.
Both the House and Senate proposals would also deliver massive tax cuts to high-income earners while ballooning the federal budget deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade — despite repeated attempts by Republican leaders in Congress to cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and countless discretionary programs under the guise of “fiscal responsibility.”
Under no circumstances should Congress cut taxes on millionaires and special interests only to later propose draconian cuts to infrastructure, health care, education, environmental protection, national defense, public safety, and other critical programs. Americans will not be fooled by this thinly-veiled sleight of hand.
Ultimately, I am deeply troubled by what the final GOP Tax Plan will mean for workers, families, and communities across Washington state, and I urge you, in no uncertain terms, to reconsider this partisan approach to tax reform.
Among the most concerning provisions in the GOP Tax Plan is the elimination of the state and local tax deduction, which is used by approximately l million hard-working Washington taxpayers to lower their federal tax bill. Eliminating this middle-class benefit would increase families’ federal taxes by hundreds of dollars annually, on average.
It would also place significant pressure on our state and local governments to slash important services like education, health care, and public safety, which are supported by sales tax revenues. Other provisions threaten to immediately halt the development of affordable housing units in Washington, put thousands of blue-collar workers out of work, slow innovation in clean energy technologies, limit our ability to advance vital transportation projects, and end incentives to hire veterans and people with disabilities.
I also have serious concerns about the proposed repeal of personal tax deductions for medical expenses, student loan debt, tuition assistance, teachers' classroom supplies, moving expenses, and other important benefits that support the middle class and our state’s economy. The repeal of these deductions in the House proposal is particularly disturbing given that similar deductions are largely retained for corporations.
This partisan plan does not reflect our state's values, and it threatens our state’s economy. I urge you to reject this unfair and imbalanced proposal, engage meaningfully with state leaders from both sides of the aisle, and commit to a bipartisan process that follows regular order.
To read the entire letter from Gov. Jay Inslee, go to bit.ly/InsleeLetter.