Sarah Anderson from the Institute of Policy Studies (right) speaks as Sumayyah Waheed, the director of All In for Washington at the Washington State Budget and Policy Center looks on during a town hall hosted by Rep. Pramila Jayapal on Monday night. Photo by Joe Veyera
Sarah Anderson from the Institute of Policy Studies (right) speaks as Sumayyah Waheed, the director of All In for Washington at the Washington State Budget and Policy Center looks on during a town hall hosted by Rep. Pramila Jayapal on Monday night. Photo by Joe Veyera

The way Rep. Pramila Jayapal sees it; the tax reform effort being pushed by the Trump administration isn’t really a tax plan at all.

Instead, “it is the tax giveaways for the wealthiest plan.”

The first-term representative pulled no punches Monday night describing the GOP push to overhaul the current tax system during a town hall meeting at Seattle’s Plymouth Church.

The event comes as Republican leadership sets its sight on passing tax legislation through both chambers by Thanksgiving, with the party seeking a legislative victory that has thus far proven elusive. Among the hallmarks of the plan are a substantial cut to the corporate tax rate, from 35 to 20 percent, and at least a partial repeal of the State and Local Tax (or SALT) deduction.

Calling it a, “terrible deal for America’s families,” Jayapal said 80 percent of the proposed tax cuts would go to the top one percent of Americans, and that the plan would hurt the working class and decimate the social safety net. It’s estimated that approximately 556,000 Washington households would see their taxes go up if the proposal is approved.

As for the president’s claim that his proposal would mean a, “$4,000 pay raise,” for the typical American household?

“That is hogwash,” Jayapal said. “It is lies, lies, lies.”

Sarah Anderson, the director of the Global Economy Project at the Institute of Policy Studies, called the plan, “a big bag of Halloween candy,” for the wealthy and corporations, and an apple with a razorblade for everyone else.

And because the proposal would add substantially to the deficit (a study released Monday by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimated the plan would add anywhere from $1 to $3.5 trillion to it over 10 years), she said it would strengthen the hand of those going after the public services people depend on.

“That is where the real pain and suffering will come,” she said.

But the congresswoman said that is by design on the part of GOP. By first transferring trillions to the wealthiest citizens and corporations, and in turn exploding the deficit, lawmakers could then use the deficit to argue for deeper cuts to social programs. 

“Do not think for a minute that these are going to be the only cuts that we see,” she said.

Jayapal also pushed back on the “trickle-down” justification for tax cuts on top earners. She noted how a similar effort on the state-level in Kansas in 2012 led to budget shortfalls and slashed government programs, eventually forcing the state legislature to roll back many of the cuts this past summer.

Sumayyah Waheed, the director of All In for Washington at the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, discussed the potential for the Trump tax cuts to wreak havoc at the state-level. That’s not only because one-third of the state’s budget comes from the federal government, she said, but because Washington’s, “upside down tax code,” has prevented the state from amassing a reserve that could cover the gaps in healthcare, retirement, and college grant funding among others.  

“Even if we stop this terrible plan, we still have our dirty little secret to deal with,” she said.

In the meantime, Jayapal encouraged those on hand to make their voices heard, and reach out to as many people in their personal sphere as possible to rally opposition to the GOP effort. There’s a need for more people to tell their stories, she said, to put a human face on an issue that people don’t always see as directly relevant to them. Instead, many focus on their own day-to-day challenges without the realization that the programs they rely on could be at risk.

“The reality is this is going to strip all of that away, and so, we’ve got to get people focusing because the real delay is going to be if they can’t get this bill off the house floor.”

Jayapal would also like to see the local business community speak out in the same way it did on issues of immigration and LGBTQ rights, among others.

“I think we need to appeal to them to understand that you don’t have an economy, you don’t have business, without consumers,” she said. “You don’t have a business without workers, and if you take away all of the safety nets for people in the middle and on the bottom, you are not going to have an economy that’s going to work. You’re simply not going to.”

If enough speak out, she said, it may be enough to halt what she called the biggest transfer of wealth from the middle class to the country’s largest corporations and richest people.

“Let’s go win this thing just like we did with healthcare,” she said.

For more information or to contact Jayapal’s office, go to www.jayapal.house.gov. To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.