On "tax day," U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan trumpeted what he said are some of the benefits -- in addition to lower taxes -- of the GOP tax reform signed into law in December 2017: Pay raises and bonuses for workers, and companies creating more jobs and bringing home money from overseas.
Then the Wisconsin Republican, speaking at an April 17, 2018 news conference, made an attack, saying:
Yet, Democratic leaders are still out there spreading doom and gloom. They call it crumbs. They talk about a dark cloud. And they are promising to take it all away.
1. To back Ryan’s statement, his campaign staff cited an April 2018 website posting about Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader in the House. It carried this headline: "Pelosi: Democrats Will Repeal the GOP Tax Law When We Retake the House."
But in the video clip that accompanies the article, Pelosi wasn’t that explicit.
Pelosi had been asked at a town hall meeting if Democrats win control of the House in the November 2018 elections, "will you rewrite the tax bill from scratch, or focus on reversing specific components?" She replied:
We’ll sit down at the table and say, What would be a tax bill that creates growth, that creates good-paying jobs, as it reduces the deficit?...We can do that, we must do that, in a bipartisan way. It’s not about chipping at this piece or that piece, it’s about a comprehensive look at what our tax policy should be for the future.
So, Pelosi said she would be willing to work with Republicans on overhauling, or overturning the law, in an unspecified way.
2. Two months earlier, Pelosi did use the word repeal in speaking about Democrats retaking control of the House. But she appeared to be joking, and also spoke of a bipartisan effort.
She was asked at a news conference: "You spoke earlier this week about how, if Democrats take back Congress, that you would want to work on a fair tax system. Tell us a little bit more about what you mean. Is that basically like a repeal and replace of the new tax law?"
Well, it may have to be a replace and repeal (chuckles). Replace them (Republicans) and repeal the bill. No, (Rep. Joe Crowley) and Congresswoman Sanchez, they’re on the Ways and Means Committee and I’m going to defer to them on this. But we’ve always said, you can’t do this tax bill without having it being bipartisan. We want to recognize that perhaps we should lower the corporate rate; maybe that’s so, maybe not, what’s the case for it. But if you’re going to have sustainability in a tax reform, it has to be bipartisan.
More fact checks on tax reform:
Did Nancy Pelosi vow to raise taxes if Democrats take the U.S. House? Half True.
Does the newly signed Republican tax reform law mean $1,000 or more per year for Americans? Half True.
3. Pelosi’s office, responding to Ryan’s claim, cited a Pelosi statement from a March 2018 news conference as being representative of what she has said on the subject.
After repeatedly calling the GOP reform a "tax scam" for helping the rich more than the middle class, she said:
We would have bipartisan, open hearings on how we go forward. What’s the appropriate level of a corporate tax cut? How do we first and foremost empower financially the middle class and make that permanent, not treat them as second class people in our country? Because we said for corporations it’s a permanent tax cut, for people it’s not permanent. And, again, it would be unifying. Unifying. It would be bipartisan, open, transparent, and unifying as we go forward to strengthen middle class tax cuts and to do so in a way that creates good paying jobs, promotes growth and reduces the deficit.
So, Pelosi has talked about a comprehensive review of taxes and alluded to repealing the GOP tax reform law.
But she has also talked about a corporate tax rate lower than what it was before the reform, and about maintaining tax breaks for the middle class.
We also reviewed the statements of the Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York.
1. At a March 2018 news conference about Democrats’ proposals for infrastructure projects, Schumer spoke about reversing only certain GOP tax reforms, saying:
Rather than cutting existing infrastructure projects to pay for a paltry program, we want to roll back the Republican tax giveaways to big corporations and the wealthy, and invest that money instead in job-creating infrastructure.
2. Schumer had gone further shortly after the tax bill’s passage, telling reporters, according to The Hill:
There are probably a small number of provisions we might not repeal. It certainly would need drastic overhaul aiming it at the middle class, not the wealthy and powerful.
3. But Schumer’s office told us Democrats only want to roll back provisions for the wealthy and some of those for corporations -- but leave intact tax cuts for workers and the middle class.
A summary of the Democrats’ infrastructure proposal would, among other things, restore the top individual tax rate and the estate tax to what they were before the GOP tax reform law, and put the corporate tax rate at 25 percent, up from 21 percent under the GOP law.
Schumer emphasized the GOP tax cuts for the rich in saying about the Democratic alternative:
We want to roll back the Republican tax giveaways to big corporations and the wealthy and invest that money instead in job-creating infrastructure.
So, like Pelosi, Schumer has spoken about resetting the corporate tax rate to lower than it had been before the GOP reform law, but higher than where the reform law put it. Schumer’s emphasis has been on reversing tax breaks for the rich, not for scrapping the entire reform law.
Ryan’s office also pointed out "tax day" remarks by U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley of New York, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. He didn’t threaten repeal of the GOP tax reform, but called on Republicans to do so, saying:
The Republican caucus needs to announce that it will repeal and replace this bill. This is the bill that needs to be repealed and replaced. They are focused on health care. Repeal this bill, my Republican colleagues.
Ryan says that on the tax reform law, Democratic leaders "are promising to take it all away."
Democratic leaders in Congress have been harshly critical of the law, and have talked about the need to repeal or at least review most of it. But the tax reform law also provides tax benefits to the middle class, which the Democratic leaders have indicated they want to keep.
For a statement that is partially accurate, our rating is Half True.
YouTube, Paul Ryan press conference remarks (2:00), April 17, 2018
Email, Paul Ryan campaign spokesman Jeremy Adler, April 25, 2018
Email, Chuck Schumer spokesman Matt House, April 26, 2018
Email, Nancy Pelosi spokesman Henry Connelly, April 27, 2018
Independent Journal Review, "Why's the GOP Tax Bill Still So Unpopular? Collins Says There’s a 'Messaging Problem,’" April 17, 2018
PunditFact, "Did Nancy Pelosi vow to raise taxes if Democrats take the U.S. House?" April 9, 2018
The Hill, "Dems vow to repeal parts of GOP tax law," Feb. 1, 2018
C-SPAN, news conference (37:11), Jan. 31, 2018
C-SPAN, news conference (2:50), March 7, 2018
The Hill, "Senate Dems propose tax cut rollback to pay for infrastructure," March 7, 2018
DemocraticLeader.gov, news conference transcript, March 8, 2018
NTK Network, "Pelosi: Democrats Will Repeal the GOP Tax Law When We Retake the House," April 4, 2018
NTK Network, "Joe Crowley: GOP Tax Bill Needs to Be Repealed and Replaced," April 17, 2018
Politico, "Senate Democrats pitch repeal of tax cuts to fund infrastructure," March 7, 2018
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