Vice Chairman Leahy Statement On The Hearing With Secretary Mnuchin To Review The FY 19 Funding Request For The U.S. Department Of The Treasury

A few months ago, Republicans rammed a hastily written corporate tax giveaway through Congress.  There’s no question that corporate CEOs are happy with the results.  Stock buybacks are booming and JPMorgan Chase has estimated that it could reach an all-time high this year.  But when I talk to Vermonters back home, they want to know why Washington chose to put the needs of large corporations ahead of theirs.  Whether it is the relative pittance working families received in relief – an amount so low that some polls have shown that more than half of Americans report not noticing an increase in their paychecks – or the rising healthcare premiums they will face, this bill was a bad deal for the vast majority of the American people.  On top of that, these reckless tax cuts were put on the nation’s credit card and will explode our deficit over the next decade. 

Meanwhile, the IRS has been starved for resources for far too long.  In rural states like Vermont, taxpayers who have questions or need assistance are being left out in the cold.  This is even worse now that the new law has taken effect.  Many Vermonters are confused about how to navigate the tax system in light of these changes – and tax forms under the Republican plan are definitely not the postcard-size tax return the President touted.  They cannot afford armies of tax lawyers to help them, like the millionaires, billionaires, and corporations who benefit from the new law.  As taxpayers, working Vermonters deserve to have the right to call the IRS or visit a location in person to receive the assistance they need in a timely manner.  Further troubling millions of American taxpayers is the relentless uncertainty of whether their personal, sensitive information has been compromised in any one of the many recents data breaches.  Loss of this data puts taxpayers at risk for fraud, all at a time when you propose cutting support for the IRS.

I am disappointed that we are in this situation.  Congress should have worked in a bipartisan manner to bring real relief to working families.  Instead, the bill that was passed further loads the dice in favor of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of everyone else.  The least we can do now is make sure the IRS has the resources available to help American taxpayers navigate.  But your budget request only makes it tougher by straining the IRS’s already limited resources, even as taxpayer confusion is climbing.  It is clear whose side you and the President are on – and it is not hardworking, middle class Vermonters and Americans. 

Finally, I’d like to say a brief word on trade. Trade policy, Secretary Mnuchin, like tax policy, is complicated.  There are many stakeholders, many interests, and many nuances.  It cannot be negotiated on social media.  You cannot one day threaten billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese products, only to pull back from the brink.  You cannot accept promises to address intellectual property theft without meaningful commitments to back up those promises. Our intellectual property – the envy of the world – is worth more than 280 characters on Twitter.

I intend to submit questions for the record on the resource needs at the IRS and I expect to receive timely responses.  Thank you.

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