With Republicans on Capitol Hill sending President Donald Trump a tax reform proposal this week, the issue is set to become a factor in next year’s U.S. Senate race in Florida.
Like every other Democrat in the Senate, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who is expected to run for a fourth term in 2018, voted against the proposal.
Nelson took to the Senate floor on Monday to weigh in on why he opposed the proposal, insisting it will lead to more companies taking jobs overseas.
“What's becoming increasingly clear is that this tax bill is not for ordinary folks. It's going to give a few nuggets to the middle class, but that's to mask the true intent,” Nelson said. “The real purpose of the bill is to give huge tax cuts to multinational corporations and to make it easier for them to shift jobs overseas. That's the bottom line. Right now under current law, corporations that send jobs overseas have to pay taxes on the money that they bring back into the U.S., but now what this new GOP tax bill says is corporations that send jobs overseas can bring the money back U.S. tax free. Once this bill passes, companies will come under increasing pressure to take advantage of the tax savings in the bill by sending their jobs overseas to low-wage countries, particularly those jobs that can't already be automated.
“This is the exact opposite of what we should be doing,” Nelson added. “Instead of this version of the tax bill that will inevitably send America’s jobs overseas, we should be working on a bill that cuts taxes permanently for hardworking middle-class families. Supporters of the bill will argue a lower corporate rate will encourage companies to keep jobs here. They'll argue that rather than going in a country with a higher corporate rate, America’s corporate rate will be lower, but that's ignoring the attraction that companies have to send jobs overseas because of cheaper jobs and lower environmental standards.
“The only thing that this Republican-led Senate seems to care about is helping out large multinational corporations,” Nelson insisted. “The truth is these multinational corporations are doing just fine. We shouldn't be moving heaven and earth or adding a million and a half trillion dollars to the national debt or upending our nation's health care system to make it easier for them to send American jobs overseas. That's not right. That's not fair. The American people deserve better.”
Nelson returned to that theme on Tuesday in an email to supporters.
“Right now, Republicans in Congress are racing to get their disastrous tax bill passed before the end of the year. That's because they know it would be more difficult to get this bill passed in the Senate once newly elected Democrat Doug Jones is seated,” Nelson wrote. “This bill was never about helping the middle class. It cuts taxes for large multinational corporations and pays for those cuts by borrowing nearly $1.5 trillion, which is added to the national debt – and it takes health-care coverage away from 13 million people.”
The National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC) took aim at Nelson on Tuesday.
“Bill Nelson decided to put the partisan demands of D.C. Democrats before the everyday needs of Florida families and the citrus growers this plan would help,” said Katie Martin, a spokeswoman for the NRSC. “Nelson’s vote against this plan is just the latest example of his bowing to the Washington liberal agenda at the expense of Floridians.”
Gov. Rick Scott, who is expected to run against Nelson next year, also weighed in and expressed his support for the tax reform proposal.
“It is great news that Washington is following Florida’s lead by cutting taxes for families,” Scott said on Tuesday before showcasing his record in Tallahassee. “In Florida, we have cut taxes more than 80 times saving families over $7.5 billion, and today is an important step to return money back to Americans.”
The Florida Democratic Party responded on Wednesday with a jab at the governor.
“Rick Scott has shamelessly prioritized his personal wealth and his party over the needs of our state,” insisted Johanna Cervone, a spokeswoman for the Florida Democrats. “Rick Scott lobbied hard for Donald Trump's tax scam, which gives billionaires massive tax cuts, while forcing working families to foot the bill. While millions of Florida families would see their tax bill go up by thousands of dollars and lose funding for much-needed education and health-care programs, Rick Scott would receive hundreds of thousands in tax breaks.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., voted with Republicans in support of the tax reform bill and he explained why on Wednesday as he showcased his efforts to expand the child tax credit.
“My priority for tax reform has always been to provide meaningful tax relief to working American families and ensure our nation is economically competitive. A tax code that is more pro-growth and pro-family is long overdue, and that is why I am proud to support the tax reform bill today,” Rubio said. “More than 8.6 million families making less than $50,000 a year will see a larger tax cut due to the changes made to the child tax credit in the conference committee. For an Army private and a waitress with three kids, that’s worth nearly $1,300 more of their own money. That is money for diapers, a crib, kids’ sports equipment, school supplies, after-school care, or new shoes. This is real money for real families.
“If you work hard, pay your taxes, and start a family, you are doing immense good for our country in a time when we need stable families more than ever. Including more of the working class in the child tax credit will make the difficult, but deeply important, job of raising kids on a limited budget just a little bit easier. And that is worth doing,” Rubio added. “It is my hope that by increasing access to the child tax credit I have helped lay the groundwork for an agenda that reconciles conservative goals with the realities faced by working class American families. Today was the first step in a long journey ahead toward that end. And by voting in favor of this bill, I believe we are taking that step.”