Hudson Valley Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney held a telephone town hall Wednesday night on the GOP tax plan. The Democrat heard what constituents think of the proposal that is slated to be voted on next week.
Congressman Maloney, who represents the 18th District, says one of the most serious concerns for New Yorkers in the Republican tax overhaul is the partial elimination of state and local income and sales tax deductions, along with the cap on state and local property tax, or SALT, deductions. Maloney responded to Ann from Brewster in Putnam County who wanted to know how the plan would affect middle-income senior citizens.
For the most part, you’re not going to see much of anything, but here’s where I think seniors should really be worried, and I really mean this,” said Maloney. “You go put $1.5 trillion dollars of new debt on our country over the next 10 years on top of the $20 trillion of debt we already have and the $10 trillion of debt we’re going to get just under current law over the next 10 years. So now you’re talking about $31.5 trillion of debt 10 years from now. They’re going to be coming after your Medicare. They’re going to be coming after your Social Security because there’s going to be nowhere else to go for the money.”
“I’m afraid they’re coming after it now,” Ann said.
Plus, Maloney says the following is not hyperbole.
“A very small group of super rich people will get to keep billions of dollars over the next 10 years, and the rest of you are going to pay for it. Now you may get some scraps over the next few years; you may save a couple hundred bucks in your taxes but good luck with that because it’s going to hurt your country and it’s going to hurt New York,” Maloney said. “And I do think there is a way we could do this, by the way, that would be fiscally responsible and focused on middle-class people. It’s one of the reasons I’m upset that they’ve shut us all out of the process and they’re trying to do it behind closed doors, in secret, with just Republican votes. It’s just irresponsible and it really pushes away a lot of people like me who would, no kidding, work to do this thing in a way that makes some sense.
Donald from Fort Montgomery in Orange County had a question.
“You were very long on explaining who was against the removal of the state and local tax deduction,” Donald said.
“Right,” said Maloney.
“Very short on process. I mean, the reality is the numbers are against the Democratic Party, perhaps until 2018 or beyond. So, beyond giving me a list of who is against it, what can you do, realistically, to build a consensus to form against this particular piece of legislation, looking at the numbers as they are, not as they may be.”
“The way we’re going to beat it is if ordinary folks like you and the other people on this call let people know how they feel. And that’s what stopped the Trumpcare bill,” said Maloney. “We can’t do it, you’re right. We’re in the minority in the House. I’m hoping that changes next year because I think somebody ought to pump the brakes on this president once in awhile and provide some real ballast here. But, right now, we’ve got to convince some of these Republican members that this is bad for their districts.”
Maloney said Republican representatives from high-tax states like New York should oppose the bill. Donald wanted to know how Maloney could ensure such Republicans would not capitulate.
“Me, personally, Sean Maloney, I have one vote and they’re not going to listen to me. But when thousands of you show up at town hall meetings for some of my colleagues from New York like you did for health care, like has been going on all over the country when people are really starting to pay attention now about what’s going on, that’s what moves the needle,” said Maloney. “And, last night [Election night] when you saw a lot of Trump supporters get rejected by the voters, that’s the thing that starts to really move the needle. And all I want is to have a balanced, commonsense approach to this, I mean it. We should get corporate profits held overseas back in the U.S. By the way, we can lower the corporate tax rate if we do it right. That’s fine.”
Maloney says he’s been combing through the roughly 400-page bill.
“But there’s some weird stuff in here, too. Do you know there’s stuff in this bill that would basically try to roll back a woman’s right to choose, right? So there’s some anti-abortion folks who are trying to use this bill to create some rights for the unborn in tax law. So, what are we doing, right? Are we doing tax reform or are we trying to ride a bunch of hobby horses and help a bunch of pet causes,” Maloney said. “So that’s what I mean. When you do it in secret and you don’t tell anybody what’s in it, you don’t have hearings, you don’t have good questions being raised, you don’t have lots of people out there being able to look at it to find these little weird things that people stuff in it.”
Maloney says nearly 200,000 taxpayers in his district claim state and local tax deductions. Other callers were concerned about losing medical and child-care deductions. Meanwhile, one caller wanted to know if Maloney supports impeaching President Trump.
“I’m waiting to see what Bob Mueller says. I think he should do his job and the rest of us should keep our power dry until he tells us what’s what,” said Maloney. “I have a lot of problems with the way the president’s conducting himself. If [FBI] Director Mueller says he broke the law and refers that up the Hill, then I think that’s the appropriate time to have that conversation. Right now, I’m going to let the FBI director do his job.”
Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. There also are allegations that Trump obstructed justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey.