updated Nov. 20, 4:45 pm
U.S. Rep. William Keating is criticizing a Republican-sponsored tax bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday. The bill would have adverse effects in Massachusetts, particularly in the 9th Congressional District, which Rep. Keating serves, according to a press release issued by his office.
“It’s an extraordinary circumstance when a tax cut becomes this unpopular,” Keating said. “We’re hearing from a broad spectrum of people in our community who are seriously concerned they will be hurt by the Republican tax plan. Many are concerned they could be part of the 36 million who actually see a tax increase; students are concerned they will no longer be able to afford school; those on Medicare are concerned because they know this tax plan will ultimately cause Medicare to be cut; and others are concerned they may be one of the 13 million people to lose their healthcare. The tradeoff to reduce corporate taxes and taxes for the wealthiest of the wealthy will be devastating to the rest of us. Unfortunately, none of this was necessary. We had an opportunity for bipartisan reform, but Republicans are wasting it.”
Keating isn’t the only one speaking out about the tax plan.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is also critical of the plan, according to the State House News Service. “If you really want to do something for the middle class, this is not it, because the middle class — in Massachusetts anyway — will probably take the biggest hit,” the governor told co-hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan during his monthly appearance on WGBH. He said, “This is just a big shift, as you point out, Jim, to the haves, at the expense in many cases of working people and the have-nots. And I don’t support that.”
Baker, who is expected to run for re-election next year, said he would be up for a discussion about lowering the nation’s corporate tax rate — which tops out at 35 percent — but he agrees with the critique offered by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat who is running for re-election next year, about the approach Republicans are taking toward taxes in Congress.
“There’s all kinds of things in this bill that will just make life for middle-class families in Massachusetts dramatically more expensive,” Baker said. “And one of the things that Senator Warren said about this that I thought was spot-on was she said before we start taking things away from middle-class families to support tax cuts for big corporations, we should be talking about what we’re going to do to make life easier for middle-class families first. And I agree completely with her on that point.”
Here’s how Keating says the tax cuts will affect his constituents:
- In the 9th District, the average household income — $91,000 — is right at the heart of what most people consider the middle class. It is anticipated that people with this level of income have about a 50-50 chance of actually paying more than they would have otherwise.
- The Republican plan repeals the ability to deduct catastrophic medical expenses. Annually, 30,000 households in the 9th District — the most of any in the state — claim the medical-expense deduction, which saves our families over $314 million each year in medical costs associated with unexpected surgery, long-term care for Alzheimer’s, and everything in between.
- The state and local tax (SALT) deduction is vital to states like Massachusetts that choose to invest in their health, schools, and safety. The conservative-leaning Tax Foundation notes the average family in Plymouth County deducts more than $5,300 in state and local taxes. Households on the Cape and Islands deduct more than $4,000, and the average deduction in Bristol County is just over $3,200. Eliminating this deduction essentially means residents will be taxed for these services twice.
- Communities in the 9th District are thriving because of local, family-owned shops and restaurants. For every small business that sees a cut, nine others get no help from this Republican plan. And if a small business is lucky enough to be that one in every 10, it will still pay a higher rate than large corporations.
- Investments in clean, sustainable energy will drive major economic growth in the 9th District, creating new, high-quality jobs. In fact, the state has already invested $15 million to develop the Port of New Bedford as a hub for future offshore wind energy projects. Republicans are slashing the incentives for financing these critical developments, cutting off these projects at their knees, and ignoring the need for this technology as we combat climate change.
- So many families in 9th District communities have lived in the same home for decades, and sometimes generations. Instead of allowing people to realize full return on their investments, Republicans are rolling back the mortgage interest deduction, making it harder to sell and buy homes, and decreasing their value.
- Coastal communities throughout the 9th District worry about the risk of storms and severe weather every year. The plan takes away tax relief that helps us rebuild in the event of catastrophic property losses.
Additional components of the tax plan:
- Tax relief for students is eliminated.
- Lifetime learning credits for adults who want retraining are eliminated.
- Deductions for teachers who use their own money to pay for supplies for their students are eliminated.
- Deductions for seniors with disabilities are eliminated.
- Tax deduction for hiring people with disabilities is eliminated.
- Tax relief to assist with the high costs of adoption are eliminated.
- By the time this plan takes full effect (2025), it is estimated that everyone in the country will see a tax increase.
- The additions to the deficit this bill causes would trigger $25 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare.
- Similarly, deficit additions would automatically cut the crime victims fund, the prevention and public health fund, social services block grants, vocational rehabilitation state grants, farm pricing supports, and more.
A Senate version includes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate, which will kick approximately 13 million Americans off their insurance and raise everyone else’s premiums by at least 10 percent, according to the release. House leadership has indicated they will accept this provision if the bill goes to conference.
This was updated to add the reactions of Governor Charlie Baker.