Carper Statement at Tax Bill Conference Committee

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), former governor of Delaware, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee and a member of the conference committee instructed to reconcile the Senate and House-passed tax bills, released the following statement on the committee’s first meeting.

“President Trump made a number of promises to the American people about his plans to reform our tax system. He told us that his proposal wouldn’t enrich people like him. He said it would help middle income families. And he also said it would help foster economic growth and create jobs. Well, the tax bills passed by Republicans in the House and the Senate break all these promises. Just how much worse the so-called deal that my Republican colleagues announced today will be for the American people has yet to be seen as it was written in secret before the conference committee even met.

“This whole process has been a farce. House and Senate Republicans have rushed through bills that create temporary tax breaks for individuals, with benefits for lower- and middle-income families that phase out over the next year. Some of those benefits start going away as soon as 2019! Meanwhile, the plans make permanent, trillion-dollar corporate tax cuts under the guise of economic growth and job creation. In reality, it will just ensure that wealthy shareholders and executives will take an even bigger cut of corporate profits. 

“I know a little bit about managing a budget and designing a tax plan. I was privileged to serve as governor of Delaware for eight years. We cut taxes in seven out of those eight years and we balanced the budget eight years in a row. We paid down our debt and earned triple AAA credit ratings. More jobs were created in those eight years than in any other eight-year period in the history of the state of Delaware. It wasn’t just our tax policy, it was because we focused on creating a nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation. 

“The Republican tax proposal has a price tag of about one and a half trillion dollars. Couple that with the interest the federal government will owe on the money it has to borrow to pay for these tax cuts, and the price tag exceeds $2 trillion over the next ten years. If my Republican colleagues want to spend that kind of money to grow the economy and put people back to work, they could get a lot better bang for the American buck. In fact, making an investment of that size in our roads, highways, bridges, rail, airports, broadband, water and sewer infrastructure, would stimulate the economy and make us more competitive around the globe, all the while growing our GDP by hundreds of billions of dollars and creating millions of jobs. I hope my colleagues with think about that, perhaps, benefit from a little bit of perspective.

“In any case, I always look at tax reform proposals through a prism of four questions: Is it fair? Does it encourage economic growth and job creation? Does it simplify the tax code, or make it more complicated? Is it fiscally responsible? The Republican plan fails all of those tests, but, for me, its impact on our federal deficit is among the most painful. There are times when we have to deficit spend – drastic economic downturns, wars, national calamities – but paying for tax cuts that disproportionately advantage the richest of the rich just doesn’t make sense. Eight years into the largest economic expansion in the history of our country, we should be paying down the debt, not adding to it.

“The good news is, I’m an optimist, and even though I’m incredibly discouraged by how this process has played out over the past few weeks, I know it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s an African proverb that says, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.’ It’s a shame that we have not traveled together so far, but there’s time to change course. I hope we will.”