December 16, 2017

Van Hollen Discusses Republican Tax Plan on ABC’s This Week

Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen joined George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week to discuss the Republican tax plan and the news of the day. Below is a transcript of highlights of that interview, and the full video is available here:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's move on to the tax bill right now. You heard Senator Cornyn right there inviting Democrats to come to the table for what he says will be a big boom to the middle class. Your response?

VAN HOLLEN: Look, George, this is a total betrayal of President Trump's economic populist message on the campaign trail. It's a huge giveaway to big corporations. Millions of middle class taxpayers will see their taxes go up, even though Republicans promised that would not happen. Millionaires will get an average annual tax break of $35,000 a year. And the big winners are those corporations. And I think many people haven't focused on the fact that 35 percent of the shareholders of those corporations are actually foreign stock holders, who in the year 2019, are going to get a $31 billion tax break.

So millions of American taxpayers handing over money to foreign stock holders. It doesn't sound like America first to me. It doesn't sound like the middle class first.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard the Senator's response to that provision I asked him about, which had caught your eye earlier as well -- a special carve-out for real estate LLCs, which could mean tens of millions of dollars to President Trump and other Republicans. Do you have any idea how that got in? Any chance it could be taken out?

VAN HOLLEN: I don't know how it got in. What we do know is they're behind closed doors, there are a whole army of lobbyists who were surrounding them. And the longer they're in there, the more you see these special interest provisions, George, which as you indicate would be a windfall to Donald Trump based on everything we know. Of course, he hasn't released his tax returns.

It reminds me of the fact that during the campaign, the one issue Donald Trump used as Exhibit A for why this tax code was broken was the carried interest loophole for hedge fund managers. He said during the campaign that hedge fund managers are getting away with murder. You just heard Senator Cornyn, they have got a 1,000-page bill. Nowhere in it do they get rid of the one tax giveaway, special break that Donald Trump focused on most during the campaign. And that is why this is a total betrayal of that economic populist message -- and people are catching on. That's why it's so unpopular

STEPHANOPOULOS: You also heard Senator Cornyn's response to the possibility that Medicare cuts would be triggered by this bill. He certainly invited Democrats to prevent those, expects Democrats to come on board. Will Democrats allow $25 billion in Medicare cuts to take effect? You won't vote for the waiver?

VAN HOLLEN: No, Democrats are not going the allow those cuts to go in place. And it is fact that when Republicans voted for this tax bill that increases the debt by $1.5 trillion, in doing so they automatically triggered this provision that would cut Medicare by $25 billion. Now we hope that they will join us in turning it off.

But if you look forward next year, you have got a lot of Republicans who used to care about the debt. I used to be the senior Democrat on the Budget Committee. Paul Ryan used to talk always about the dangers of the debt. We actually agreed on that issue. Now they have blown a big hole in the debt. And if you look at their budget, it's right there, their plan for dealing with that is to cut Medicare by $500 billion and Medicaid by over $1 trillion. It's right there in the Republican budget. And this is step two of their plan, because they just increased our debt by over $1 trillion.