U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty: Scrap partisan tax plan to protect middle class

November 12, 2017 GMT

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been flooded with phone calls, e-mails, letters, and even faxes from families in Connecticut who are extraordinarily concerned by the partisan tax plan currently being jammed through the House of Representatives.

It’s easy to see why folks are worried: This tax plan completely fails the president’s promises to our middle class and forces Connecticut to pay more. Families were told they’d be able to do their taxes on a postcard. That won’t be possible under this tax plan. Families were told they’d have more money in their pockets. Instead, many of us are facing the possibility of tax increases — big ones — in order to pay for tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy and corporations.

If you’re looking for an example of the punitive tax hikes in this bill, look no further than the gutting of the state and local tax deduction that you and I and many in our state claim.


The average family in Connecticut deducts close to $20,000 a year in state and local taxes. We’ve allowed families in Connecticut and throughout the country to deduct these taxes since the creation of the tax code in 1913 for a reason — nobody should pay taxes twice on the same dollar. Nonetheless, the House tax plan would eliminate your ability to deduct state income taxes and cap your property tax deduction. I’m absolutely opposed to this attempt to tax us just for living in Connecticut.

And on top of the immediate hit that Connecticut families would face from the loss of the state and local tax deduction, many workers would pay more from the loss of specific deductions.

One extreme example: changing the rules so teachers don’t get any help when they pay out of pocket for classroom supplies.

Our teachers in Danbury Public Schools and throughout Connecticut are able to deduct up to $250 on their taxes for classroom expenses. We worked hard to give teachers this small break for a reason: It’s unfortunate that teachers have to pay out of pocket to supply their classrooms at all. Nonetheless, this tax plan does away with the small relief our teachers receive each year. It’s shameful that we would hurt teachers — a backbone of our middle class — and I’m going to work with my colleagues in both parties to stop it.

Why are we even debating a tax bill that would hurt our middle class? After all, when Congress last reformed the nation’s tax code, both parties were able to put politics aside and find ways to lower rates for families and simplify the filing process for everyone. Bipartisan tax reform, however, requires a commitment to hearing all sides’ perspectives and carefully considering legislation before passing it.

Think about this: In 1986, when President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, a Democrat, worked together to reform our tax code, Congress:

Held 42 committee hearings;

Heard testimony from 450 witnesses representing those who would be affected, and;


Considered the bill for 26 days before passing it out of committee.

By contrast, this enormous tax package is expected to be passed out of committee without a single hearing or a single expert’s testimony. Our tax code is complicated. Fixing it is important. We shouldn’t rush through this process just to satisfy the president’s or anyone else’s need for a political victory.

And we certainly shouldn’t force a tax plan on the American people that would harm future generations.

Since 1986, our national debt has grown to over $20 trillion. When President Obama was in office, we often heard about the importance of reducing the debt. Yet today, we are considering a tax plan that would add at least $1.5 trillion more to the debt, burdening our children and grandchildren even more. Fiscal responsibility demands that we consider the long-term impact of our actions.

I’ve never forgotten the fact that I work for Connecticut families who feel stretched to the limit. People who are struggling to afford a home, save for retirement, or keep the kids in school can’t afford a tax increase to give big tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans. If the president wants to give families the gift of real tax relief, I’m ready to work with him. But the president’s tax plan fails the people who sent me to Washington to fight for them. I’m opposed to it.

Let’s scrap this partisan tax plan and start over on a bipartisan approach that helps our families and creates jobs here in America.

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty is a Democrat who represents the 5th Congressional District.