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As Trump Tax Plan Nears Senate Vote, Nevadans Demand Heller Oppose It

As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on its version of the Trump Tax Plan, progressive activists and community leaders gathered outside the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas to send one final message to Senator Dean Heller (R) before voting begins. They demanded Heller read all the fine language, see how all the numbers add up for Nevada, and reject any bill that results in higher taxes or less of a social safety net for working-class families.

“I don’t think the American people are anxious for them to do something. I think the American people want them to do the right thing.”
– State Senator Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas)
Photo by Andrew Davey

As a member of the Nevada Legislature, State Senator Pat Spearman is responsible for approving the state budget. Spearman kicked off the press conference by describing how the Trump Tax Plan, particularly the Senate bill’s elimination of state and local tax deductions (SALT) for individuals, would wreck state and local governments and threaten the delivery of essential services.

Spearman, who’s also a military veteran, used veterans’ services as an example of the public services that could be cut as a result of eliminating SALT. “Do they really understand that what this will do is hurt veterans and military families who depend upon state and county government to help them make it?,” Spearman asked. “Who in the world thinks it’s a good idea to cut funding for disabled Americans?”

As the U.S. Senate nears a full floor vote on the #TrumpTaxPlan, local progressive groups are demanding Senator Dean Heller oppose the bill.

Posted by Nevada Forward on Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Spearman called on Heller and his Senate colleagues to think before they vote. “I don’t think the American people are anxious for them to do something. I think the American people want them to do the right thing.”

“It’s called the ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’. Guess what: It does none of those things.”
– Professor Francine Lipman, UNLV Boyd School of Law
Photo by Andrew Davey

Spearman was not alone in asking the Senate not to rush into a potentially calamitous tax plan. UNLV Boyd Law School Professor Francine Lipman is an expert on tax law, and she was appointed by Governor Brian Sandoval (R) to the Nevada Tax Commission in 2016. Lipman described the tax bill this way: “It’s called the ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’. Guess what: It does none of those things.”

Why’s that? Lipman explained how the Senate bill’s elimination of SALT, the House bill’s elimination of student loan interest and medical expense deductions, and both versions’ stingy child tax credits hurt the majority of taxpayers. For Lipman, “[T]his bill exacerbates the complexity by taking away deductions and subsidies for students, immigrants, seniors and veterans. […] This is the opposite of what we need to do.”

“Businesses have said pretty emphatically that they’re going to allocate their savings in taxes to shareholders.”
– Professor Francine Lipman, UNLV Boyd School of Law

Lipman also pointed out how the tax cuts themselves may not stimulate any economic growth. On the corporate tax cut, Lipman refuted President Donald Trump’s assertion that it will result in more jobs for the middle class.

Trump has claimed that corporate tax cuts mean more investment, but what if these businesses don’t actually use their savings to hire more people? “Businesses have said pretty emphatically that they’re going to allocate their savings in taxes to shareholders,” Lipman said. “Who are shareholders? Typically, they’re very high net worth, high income individuals.”

Senate approves motion to proceed, moves onto final bill

Shortly after the press conference, Heller joined all 51 of his fellow Republicans to agree to the motion to proceed on the Senate’s Trump Tax Plan bill. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D) joined all other Senate Democrats in voting against.

This allows the Senate to move ahead in debating the actual bill, which may get a final up-or-down vote as soon as tomorrow. With all Democrats expected to vote against it again, Republicans can’t lose more than three votes in order to pass their bill and move into conference with the House, which passed its version of the tax bill earlier this month. If Republicans in both chambers can agree on a final tax package, which is still far from guaranteed, Trump may get his wish of signing the bill into law by the end of the year.

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