Kilmer Votes Against Tax Bill That Raises Middle Class Taxes, Adds Trillions to Debt

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) voted against the Republican tax plan. According to nonpartisan analyses, the final version of the bill would raise taxes on 86 million middle-class families and add more than $1.5 trillion to the debt. Of the tax cuts in the plan, 83 percent would go to the wealthiest 1 percent of the country.

Today’s vote is an enormous missed opportunity. Done right, tax reform could help grow our economy, give small businesses a boost, and make it easier for middle class families to get ahead,” Rep. Derek Kilmer said. “Instead, this bill raises taxes on 86 million middle-class families while giving 83 percent of the tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent and adding more than $1.5 trillion to the debt that our kids will have to pay off.”

From the start of the process, Kilmer offered to work with Republicans on a bipartisan plan. Earlier this year, he and members of the New Democrat Coalition met with Rep. Kevin Brady, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which drafts tax policy, and offered to work on bipartisan tax reform.  The group offered an alternative tax plan that would have drawn bipartisan support. Kilmer outlined the plan in an op-ed in The News Tribune earlier this week.

The final version of the bill, which would alter the nation’s economy for decades, was issued just four days before a vote. Critics of the bill raised concerns that special interests added last minute loopholes including a Real Estate Tax Break designed specifically to give massive tax breaks to wealthy real estate owners. Another loophole could actually end up sending more jobs overseas.

Nonpartisan analyses demonstrate that the bill would add more than $1.5 Trillion to the national debt over the next decade. That would trigger automatic cuts to things that help everyday Americans from seniors to farmers. For example, next year alone Medicare, the health insurance program for elderly, would be cut by $25 Billion. According to Politico, “nearly every federal program that helps farmers, would see funding evaporate.”

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office the tax bill would cause sweeping changes to healthcare, which would lead to a 10 percent increase in health care premiums and cause 13 million fewer Americans to purchase insurance.

In addition, critics have raised concerns that the bill penalizes working people because it applies a higher tax rate to employee wages and salaries than to income earned by proprietors who do the exact same job.  In a recent interview with The New York Times about this issue, Adam Looney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former Treasury Department official said “We’ve never had a tax system where wage earners are substantially penalized” in this way.

The bill also failed to address an issue that directly affects Washington’s tribal communities. Under the current tax code, tribal governments are not given equal access to the same tax incentives that states and local governments can use to spur economic growth.  Rep. Kilmer and a group of 37 other lawmakers raised this issue earlier this month and called on the committee to include a provision to give parity to tribal governments in the final package.

Despite Rep. Kilmer’s opposition and the disapproval of the majority of Americans, the bill passed.