A college student confronted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at an on-campus event sponsored by Georgetown University's Institute of Politics on Tuesday, challenging her rhetoric referring to the GOP-passed tax cuts and related bonuses as "crumbs." Other Democrats have followed suit, sneering at the tangible benefits being experienced by everyday American families -- all thanks to a law that people like Pelosi wrongly predicted would inflict "Armageddon" on the US economy and trigger "the end of the world." The student, who identified himself as freshman from Virginia, relayed his family's positive experience with tax reform and pressed Pelosi on whether she would stand by her dismissive formulation. Via the NTK Network, watch:
“You’ve spoken about the effects of the Republican tax plan, specifically referring to its effects on average Americans as crumbs,” the student said. As the son of small business owners, I know that it’s helped my parent hire more employees. It’s helped us pay off our mortgage, helped put me through college...Would you still refer to the effects of this tax plan on average Americans as crumbs?”
Pelosi conceded that some people are benefitting from the new law, but referred to the economic arguments in favor of the Republican policy as "BS." She also made the following claim: "Here's a tax bill that they advertise as a benefit for the middle class, and did you know 83 percent of the benefits of the tax bill go to the top one percent? ...In the life of the bill, 86 million middle class families will pay more taxes." The first part of that statement is flat-out false. The second, carefully-parsed attack is deeply misleading. Let's unpack each element. It's simply wrong to say that 83 of the new law's tax benefits go to the top one percent. Here's the truth:
Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute points out, “The bottom 80 percent of families currently pay 33 percent of all combined federal taxes, yet will get 35 percent of the tax cuts. By contrast, the top one percent currently pays 27 percent of all federal taxes, but will get just 21 percent of the tax cuts. This means the share of all federal taxes paid by upper-income earners will slightly rise.”
That's a far cry from what Pelosi said (and while we're at it, read this piece about tax burdens and "fair shares"). So where did she come up with that number? By embracing a total distortion that we've dismantled in previous analyses. Here is FactCheck.org exposing her dishonest point back in January:
The Republican tax plan was signed into law just last month, and Democrats already have a well-worn, and misleading, talking point about it: 83 percent of the tax cuts go to the wealthiest 1 percent. That’s true for 2027 but only because most of the individual income tax changes expire by then. In 2025 — the last year before those tax changes expire — a quarter of the tax cuts go to the top 1 percent. It’s a classic case of politicians using a technically accurate statistic but without the context or explanation it requires...The important missing context is that the final tax legislation, which President Donald Trump signed into law Dec. 22, allows most of its individual income tax provisions to expire by 2027, making the tax benefit distribution more lopsided for the top 1 percent than in earlier years.
In other words, the only way transform Pelosi's statement into something remotely accurate is to pretend as if the years 2018 through 2026 do not exist. That's preposterous and goes well beyond mere "misleading," especially considering how she used that statistic to describe the entirety of the law. That's a lie. Her talking point also assumes that all of the tax cuts will, in fact, expire by 2027. How likely is that? Not bloody likely. Indeed, Republicans are already planning to call votes to make the middle class tax cuts permanent, which would completely blow up this critique from Democrats. Her latter statistic, which was preceded by the caveat about "the life of the bill," relies on the same sleight of hand. She was slapped with Pinocchios by the Washington Post over a previous iteration of this fear-mongering, so she's added a qualifier to make it slightly less deceitful.
Again, the bottom line is that these alleged "tax increases" on 86 million middle class families would only hypothetically occur if the GOP tax cuts go away years from now. Republicans are on the record in favor of extending them indefinitely, but couldn't make the "reconciliation" math work in order to pass the original bill with a simple majority in the Senate. That's why the on-paper expiration date was included; it was a necessary budget gimmick, and everyone knew it. Will Democrats oppose efforts to keep those tax cuts in place? If so, they would be to blame for a potential politically-painful and therefore extremely unlikely tax hike in the future. And what's especially galling about this line of attack from Pelosi is that she's endorsed repealing the law, which would guarantee a massive middle class tax increase.
Back in reality, the law is reducing taxes for roughly 90 percent of all taxpayers, across all income groups, including an estimated 91 percent of middle income families. The corporate tax cuts have resulted in hundreds of companies announcing expansion plans, new investments, enhanced benefits, and special bonuses for millions of workers. Financial optimism among voters, manufacturers and small business owners has soared, as have employment projections for the wider economy -- all of which has spurred stepped-up GDP growth. Pelosi can wave this all away as "crumbs" and "BS," but she's living in an alternate, anti-math universe. But that's nothing new, especially on this front. I'll leave you with Mitch McConnell calling out Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly (not by name, but by obvious implication) for voting with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi against a law that has precipitated a great deal of good news for Hoosiers:
“As my colleague, Senator Young, reports, the results in Indiana are adding up. He heard from a Hoosier in Cedar Lake who’s expanding his family milk-hauling business, and a Kokomo small business owner who’s now hiring more workers. And I recently read that over in Ellettsville, one family has found an additional $200 in their monthly paychecks -- enough to cover a week’s worth of groceries. I don’t think my colleagues across the aisle intended to make life more difficult for middle-class families across the country. It’s just that left-wing policies make it harder, not easier, for American workers and job creators to get ahead. But when my Democratic friends had the chance to join us and deliver historic tax relief to American families, they stood firm and tried to block tax relief on party lines. One of Indiana’s own senators tried to block all that good Indiana news from happening. I’m proud Republicans overcame that obstruction and got tax reform done for Americans.”
Don't be surprised to see a "Joe voted no" reprise in Indiana sometime soon.