October 18, 2017

Van Hollen Discusses Tax Reform on HLN

This morning, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen joined CNN's Headline News (HLN) with Carol Costello to discuss the Republicans' tax reform plan.Senator Van Hollen highlighted the GOP effort to eliminate the state and local tax deduction, which is claimed by millions of middle-class families. Senator Van Hollen, along with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), have introduced an amendment to block this provision. A transcript of highlights is below, andvideo of the interview is available here.

CAROL COSTELLO, HLN: Senator Chris Van Hollen from Maryland joins me now to talk more about that. Welcome.

U.S. SENATOR VAN HOLLEN (D-Md.): Carol, good to be with you.

COSTELLO: So Vote-A-Rama, how will that feel tonight?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, it could be a very long night. As you said, we're discussing the budget, which this year really is an effort to try to fast-track and green-light a tax proposal from the President, that when you actually look at the details -- and I encourage everybody to do so -- it does dramatically cut taxes for the super wealthy leaving everybody else to pay the bill. And I'm actually offering an amendment in the coming hours on that budget to make sure that it does not raise taxes on millions of middle-class taxpayers. One of the provisions that Trump Administration has proposed is eliminating the ability to deduct their state and local taxes. That will increase taxes on tens of millions of middle-class families throughout the country. So since they said that that is not their intention, to raise taxes on middle-class families, I hope they'll support the amendment.

COSTELLO: Here's the thing -- and I hear you about the amendment, and I know that this tax plan raises -- anyway let me ask you the question this way: Steve Mnuchin, the President's Treasury Secretary -- he says the top 20 percent of people pay 95 percent of the taxes; the top 10 percent of people pay 81 percent of the taxes. So he says it is hard not to give tax cuts to the wealthy, when you consider all of that. So isn't he right?

VAN HOLLEN: Well that's kind of interesting because the same Steve Mnuchin back in November 2016, said, "There will be no net increase for the wealthy" -- for rich people. That was what we then dubbed the 'Mnuchin Rule.' The reality is, now he's getting a big push from the Republican donor class to provide these whopping tax breaks to wealthy people. So let me give you an example. The estate tax, which right now only affects .2 percent of the American public, right? 2.6 million Americans pass away every year -- only 5,000 [or] fewer pay an estate tax because it doesn't even apply to couples if their estate is less than 11 million dollars.

If you are under $11 million as an estate couple, you don't pay a penny. Why is that in this bill? It is a total giveaway to super wealthy folks in this country, leaving the rest of us to pay the bill, right, raising taxes on the middle class. By the way, in this budget - cutting Medicare by close to $500 billion. Medicaid, cutting $1 trillion. You add it all up and it is a great big windfall tax break for the wealthy and the powerful, paid for by everybody else.

COSTELLO: So it should be an interesting debate tonight on Capitol Hill.

VAN HOLLEN: It will be.