A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Mitch McConnell: New tax bill ‘historic opportunity,’ overhauls tax code, creates ‘prosperity’ trajectory

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which has now been approved by both houses of Congress and is on its way to the President for his signature:
 
“Congress is standing at the doorstep of an historic opportunity. Today, the House will vote on the conference report of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the most significant overhaul of our nation’s tax code in more than thirty years. This major tax reform legislation will provide much-needed relief to middle-class families and small businesses, and will set America on a trajectory towards more opportunity and greater prosperity.
 
“After the House votes this afternoon, the Senate will begin debate, and will proceed to a vote on passage later this evening. The final text of this bill is the product of extensive open debate. It is the result of dozens of hearings on tax reform in recent years and an open amendment process. Then, the House and Senate joined together in a conference committee that carefully reconciled the two chambers’ bills. Now the time has come to vote.

Mitch McConnell

“When Senators vote for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, they will be voting for a bill that substantially cuts taxes for middle-class families. By reducing rates, it will let working Americans keep more of their paycheck and send less of their hard-earned money to Washington. In addition to lower rates, middle-class families will benefit from a standard deduction that is almost double its present level, and a doubling of the Child Tax Credit. They will benefit from the ability to deduct more of their medical expenses, increasing their tax savings during difficult times.
 
“And despite what opponents of the bill have claimed, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act achieves all this while preserving the charitable deduction and the adoption tax credit. It protects the exemption for university tuition benefits. A mortgage interest deduction remains, as does a deduction for state and local taxes. The result is a comprehensive tax reform bill that does what we set out to do: take money out of Washington’s pocket and put it back into the pockets of the middle-class Americans who earned it.
 
“Consider a typical family of four that earns the median family income. A vote for the conference report is a vote to cut their tax bill by more than $2,000 next year. After a disappointing decade of stagnant wages and shrinking opportunity under the Obama Administration, middle-class families are counting on Congress to keep our promise and give them that much-needed relief.
  
“In addition to directly cutting taxes for American families, this landmark bill will also set America on a trajectory towards higher wages and better job opportunities by making our country a better place to do business. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act contains a number of provisions that will make it easier to run and grow a small business, to create jobs, and to invest in the United States. The bill creates new tax relief for Main Street businesses. It makes it easier for American companies to bring their earnings back home instead of parking that money elsewhere.
 
“It eliminates incentives to ship jobs and manufacturing overseas, and replaces them with new incentives to invest and expand operations here at home. And to make America more competitive in the global economy, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act cuts our corporate tax rate from 35 percent — one of the highest rates in the developed world – to 21 percent.
 
“That is good news for workers. As more than 100 economists agreed in a recent open letter, ‘the question isn’t whether American workers are hurt by our country’s corporate tax rate – it’s how badly.’ Another expert put it this way in a recent op-ed: It is ‘the consensus view of professional economists’ that ‘lowering corporate income taxes would increase the wages of workers.’
 
“Perhaps that’s why reforming the corporate tax rate used to be a bipartisan goal. During the previous administration, prominent Democrats said they supported bringing our rate in line with our competitors overseas. There may be a new occupant of the White House, but the need for reform has not changed. I hope our colleagues on both sides of the aisle will support this pro-growth, pro-worker policy.
 
“It’s no wonder that job creators are enthusiastic about what they will be able to accomplish when tax reform becomes law. I recently received a letter from the chief operating officer of a construction equipment dealer in Louisville. This is a direct quote: ‘We’ll hire more employees and plan investments in our company that we weren’t considering prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.’
  
“This bill will also help Americans by repealing a punitive tax at the very heart of Obamacare. For low- and middle-income families who are suffering under the individual mandate tax – including many in my home state of Kentucky – repeal means relief.
 
“If the health insurance plans available under Obamacare are not affordable or not desirable, the blame lies with that failing law, not with Americans who are already struggling to make ends meet. It is unfair and illogical to penalize them further because Obamacare is failing to meet their needs. By erasing this individual mandate tax, we will give Americans both tax relief and healthcare flexibility — two things that Obamacare has failed to provide.
 
“There is one more element of this bill that deserves special attention. It provides the nation, and particularly the people of Alaska, with a tremendous opportunity to develop the state’s bountiful natural resources. In 1980, Congress set aside a particular non-wilderness area within Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge for potential development of its oil and gas resources.
 
“This bill is our chance to finally make good on that promise, enhancing our country’s energy security and creating good-paying jobs in the process. Unlocking the resources of this area will provide a boon to Alaska’s economy. But more broadly, it will also advance America’s standing as an energy superpower, helping to cut Americans’ energy costs and strengthening our national security.
 
“For too long, special interests have stood in the way of responsible development. The people of Alaska have shown time and again that resource development can go hand in hand with environmental protection, and surface development will be limited to just one ten-thousandth of the total land in the Reserve. It is long past time to finish what Congress started almost 40 years ago and begin reaping the benefits of responsible development.
 
“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will deliver historic tax relief to American families. It will help put our country on a trajectory towards more innovation and better-paying jobs. It will repeal an unfair tax at the center of Obamacare and will help America achieve greater energy security.
 
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. I commend the hard work of Chairman Hatch, Chairman Enzi, and Chairman Murkowski to bring it within reach. And I urge all of my colleagues to join me in voting to approve the conference report and complete this victory for the American people.”

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