Sen. Joe Manchin: Tax Reform Benefits Only the Wealthy

WHEELING — Sen. Joe Manchin says a tax reform package approved by Congress isn’t tax reform at all, but instead grants permanent tax cuts to the wealthy while growing the national debt by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

Manchin, D-W.Va., voted against the tax reform bill, which passed by a party-line vote of 51-48. He bemoaned what he considers a lack of bipartisanship in the legislative process, and said Republican leadership shut out Democratic participation in the bill.

He said his goal for the legislation had been to make certain that changes to the tax code to put more money in the pockets of working Americans were “permanent.” He acknowledged the legislation approved immediately doubles the standard deductions for Americans on their tax returns.

But under the funding formula approved, these increases will dissipate over the next decade, while corporate increases will remain, according to Manchin.

“Everybody is going to get a little bit of something, I understand,” he said. “But I think, also, you also have to evaluate … who benefits the most?

“Who got the largest amount money-wise? And who came out further ahead … ?”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. — who voted in favor of the tax reform measure — dismissed opposition to the bill as “misleading rhetoric” and “political theatrics from naysayers.”

“These reforms will cut taxes and allow middle-income families to keep more of their hard-earned money,” Capito said. “They will help small businesses grow and succeed and make sure American companies remain competitive globally. They will lead to higher wages, more jobs and new opportunities to get ahead.”

But adjustments are going to have to be made, Manchin said. He is particularly concerned about the resulting increase to the national debt.

“I don’t think anybody has ever started out any type of negotiations on a major tax reform package where we assumed we would start out in the hole,” Manchin said. “We look back in history, we’ve never seen that.”

The bill also takes away the mandate that all Americans have health insurance coverage, and he wonders how that will affect the health care system.

“A lot of things could have been a lot different,” Manchin said.

“I think on permanency for the individual taxpayers and the individual small businesses … we could have done a lot better.”