The Democrat seeking to unseat Utah’s seven-term Sen. Orrin Hatch says the massive tax reform bill the Republican pushed through Congress this week is a gift for only the wealthiest on Santa’s Christmas list and a lump of coal for the state’s poor and working families.
“Merry Christmas everyone,” Jenny Wilson said at a new conference Thursday morning. “I’m sorry to report the Grinch has arrived and the Grinch is Orrin Hatch.”
On Wednesday, Congress passed a $1.4 trillion overhaul of the U.S. tax code. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch played a major role in its drafting and shepherded the legislation through to passage.
Conservatives claim the bill provides the largest tax cut in U.S. history and is good for the American middle class.
“You can’t argue with math,” Hatch said in a statement responding to Wilson’s criticisms. “Studies from both left-leaning and right-leaning groups show that this historic legislation will lead to tax cuts for the vast majority of Utahns, with the largest cuts coming focused on the middle class. It is shocking that anyone would argue that working families in Utah should pay higher taxes.”
Critics of the legislation, including Wilson, however, say only the top 1 percent of Americans and large corporations will get the most relief.
Hatch and his buddies, Wilson said, appear to have done nothing more than work to benefit the special interest groups who fill up their campaign coffers.
“Those corporate interests received the biggest presents,” she said. standing in front of a row of red Christmas stockings labeled to represent those affected by the tax bill: Children, families, health care, workers and more.
The largest stocking was labeled “corporations” and was filled with packages wrapped in shiny holiday paper.
Wilson announced her bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in July. She’s a two-term member of the Salt Lake County Council and a former chief of staff to the late Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah. She’s also the daughter of former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson, the Democrat who has had the best showing against Hatch, though he lost in a landslide (17-points).
It’s not clear whether Hatch will actually run in 2018. In 2012 he said he would not seek an eighth term, but has since walked that back, citing encouragement from President Donald Trump, fellow senators and supporters.
Wilson said Congress’s rare rewrite of the tax code was a missed opportunity to simplify the tax system and narrow the ever-widening U.S. income gap.
Wilson also criticized the elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate, which she said is being used to finance $300 billion in corporate tax cuts.
Perhaps the bill’s biggest flaw, Wilson said, is the legacy of new federal debt it leaves to the nation’s children over the next 10 years.
“The $1.4 trillion will be handed down to the next generation,” she said.
For decades Hatch has preached against adding to the deficit, saying debt worked against prosperity for the nation’s economy, Wilson noted.
And, Wilson said, the liability of that debt for each individual Utah taxpayer pencils out to roughly $15,000. The calculations is based on projection from both the Congressional Budget Office and the Tax Policy Center.
The Center estimates that about 80 percent of U.S. household will get some tax breaks in 2018 under the new rules, although about 5 percent will pay more.
Households earning less than $25,000 should expect an average tax cut of $60, by center calculations. Those earning between $48,000 and $86,000 will get about $900 and the top 1 percent of earners can expect a break of about $51,000.
Were she already in Congress, Wilson would have never voted for the tax bill, which she said was drafted in secret and rushed through without public hearings.
The bill may in fact have some benefits — like breaks for small business owners, Wilson said. She added that she would support tax reform that makes sense.
“But most of this does not,” she said.