As Republicans rushed to push through the Senate tax bill Friday, amendments quickly followed.
Among the many tacked on to the bill is an amendment by Washington’s own Sen. Maria Cantwell.
Cantwell introduced an amendment Friday alongside Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., to keep the State And Local Tax deduction in place. As written, the Senate tax bill eliminates the deduction, known as SALT.
Nationwide, about 44 million taxpayers take the SALT deduction, according to the IRS. In Washington, more than 1 million people file taxes with a SALT deduction. Of those who do file, 86 percent make less than $200,000 annually and 56 percent make less than $100,000.
“Why now, after 100 years of tax deductibility by taxpayers in this country, why are you taking away their ability to deduct only to give a tax break to corporations who are making record profits?” Cantwell said during her floor testimony Friday.
Cantwell said more than 300,000 people in Washington state will immediately see a tax increase between $750 and $1,000.
“Is that fair? They are sitting in the shadow of these large companies who are making record profits and doing quite well,” she said. “Why are we getting rid of a policy that has existed in our country for over 100 years and penalizing them just to give this corporate break?”
Cantwell added that she doesn’t “buy the notion” that the proposed tax plan will trickle down and spur productivity and wage growth.
“This bill needs to slow down. It needs to focus on what will help our economy grow. Economists don’t believe this bill will do much to help the economy grow,” she said. “It is going to give corporations money to pay for dividends, not create jobs. We need to focus on the investment that middle-class families need to stay in their home, to make education affordable, to pay for health care, and to have communities work.”
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., also testified on the Senate floor Friday. Murray focused her testimony on health care. She called the Senate bill “truly devastating” to health care.
“It is going to create even more chaos and instability in our health care markets,” Murray said. “People have rejected every single Republican attempt this year to undermine (health care) … why are they doing it again?”
Murray proposed a deal with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in October to fund health care subsidies and make it easier for states to apply for Affordable Care Act waivers. Although the bill is likely to pass, the Congressional Budget Office found it would do little to make up for a repeal of the insurance mandate. The Senate tax bill included a provision to eliminate the individual mandate. Even with Murray’s bill, premiums would likely rise 10 percent and 13 million people would lose coverage in the next decade.
“Republicans can’t hide behind our bipartisan legislation, which would help undo damage Republicans have already done to families’ health care – but won’t do a thing to protect them from the new damage done in Republicans’ tax bill,” Murray said in a statement.
The actual impact of the tax bill and its many amendments will remain unknown until the dust settles.