Nancy Pelosi assails Republican tax reform bill during RI visit

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi meets members of the press at CCRI in Warwick.

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the Republican tax bill “mean-spirited” in a visit to Rhode Island Monday, criticizing the bill as bad for the middle class.

“The middle class will pay more,” Pelosi told reporters after a tour at the Community College of Rhode Island in Warwick. “Under this bill, future generations will pay more because the deficit will explode.”

Pelosi slammed the Republicans’ pitch as a “farce,” particularly in the proposed doubling of the standard deduction, which she said would not cover the cuts made to other specialized deductions including medical costs, mortgage interest and student loan interest.

Flanked by Democratic Representatives David Cicilline and Jim Langevin and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, she slammed Republican leadership for declining to work in a bipartisan manner to reform the tax code.

“I don’t like to spend too much time on process,” Pelosi said. “Except when the process is such that it’s done with the speed of light, in the dark of night so that nobody knows what’s in the bill and how it affects them.”

Members of the House Ways and Means committee began the process of marking up the bill on Monday. Republican leadership is aiming to get the bill passed by Thanksgiving.

Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump have touted the tax reform bill as a tax cut for middle-income families, lowering rates and simplifying the tax code.

The bill cuts the number of tax brackets from seven to four. It sets a 12% tax rate for people who make up to $45,000 per year, a 25% rate for earners between $45,000 and $200,000, a 35% rate for earners above $200,000 and a top rate of 39.6% for individuals who make more than $500,000.

The income thresholds for married couples would be $90,000, $260,000 and $1 million for the 25%, 35% and 39.6% rates, respectively.

The standard deduction would double to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families.

“This is absolutely a middle-class tax cut,” said Mike Stenhouse, the CEO of the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a conservative group. He called Pelosi’s comments “more mindless, shameless fake news.”

The Democrats also criticized the cut to the corporate tax rate in the bill, which Republicans have said will grow jobs and wages.

Rhode Island Republican Chairman Brandon Bell said Monday he supports the tax reform efforts in Washington.

“Tax reform will give Rhode Islanders millions in tax relief that they need,” Bell said in a statement. He also took a jab at Rhode Island’s proposed PawSox stadium deal, pointing out that the GOP tax bill would cut tax-exempt stadium bonds.

“Eliminating this tax break will not only save American taxpayers billions, but it will put an end to the PawSox deal now being considered at the State House,” Bell said. “Under tax reform, Rhode Islanders will get millions in tax relief and it will stop State House politicians from wasting millions in taxpayer dollars on a new stadium.