Rep. Scott blasts recent tax overhaul bill in town hall
Rep. Bobby Scott had little good to say Monday night about the tax overhaul bill recently approved by Congress.
Speaking to about 200 people in a forum in I.C. Norcom High School’s auditorium, the Newport News Democrat spelled out the details of the changes in tax rates and deductions, noting that most of tax reductions go to the wealthiest Americans.
For example, he said, the standard tax deduction for a family will increase from $12,700 to $24,000. But that family can no longer take an additional deduction of $4,050 for each family member.
The rise in the standard deduction is a “huge benefit” for some but not for those with several children, he said.
“Depending on the size of your family, that could be a good thing or it could be a bad thing,” Scott said. “If you don’t have any children, you’re probably better off” with your taxes, he said.
He pointed out that although interests payments on home mortgages are still tax deductible, the interests on a home equity loan is no longer deductible. “That’s going to come as a surprise to a lot of people,” he said.
He also lambasted the Republican-controlled Congress for approving a plan that is partially financed by borrowing $1.5 trillion. The national debt, which was close to being paid off in the late 1990s, has grown rapidly because of bipartisan budgets that spent more on overseas wars, economic stimulus and tax breaks with no plan to pay for them, he said.
The next step, he predicted, is that Republicans are going to push to cut spending for Medicare, Medicaid and limit Social Security cost of living increases by arguing that the government can’t afford them anymore.
“They think they can get away with that,” Scott said.
The tax bill also is likely to lead to higher health insurance for some people and an estimated 13 million people with no health insurance, he said.
The legislation repealed a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that almost all Americans must have health insurance. Opponents, like Scott, have argued fewer healthy people will buy coverage and costs will go up because only those who need medical care will be in many insurance pools.
President Donald Trump wasn’t mentioned by name until Eloise Carroll of Portsmouth stepped to the microphone about halfway into the 90-minute forum.
“I want to say what’s on my mind. When and how soon can we get him impeached?” Carroll asked, drawing loud applause. “What he’s done, that’s not right.”
“We were doing fine in the meeting talking about taxes and legislation,” he said. “Director (Robert) Mueller is doing an investigation. And when he reports we’ll know what we have and we’ll deal with it then.”
The congressman said so much attention is focused on the probe of Russian influence in U.S. elections, few people are paying attention to what else is happening with the Trump administration. Consider, he said, that the Department of Labor used a proposed a new rule on restaurant worker tips that would allow the owner to confiscate the gratuities.
“While everybody is talking about Russia and what he calls certain countries, this little regulation is percolating through the Department of Labor,” Scott said. “I think we need to make sure we don’t divert our attention.”
Tom Cee of Suffolk said he supported Scott, who was first elected to Congress in 1992 from the 3rd Congressional District, but wondered if it was time for someone younger .
Cee said that Scott, 70, is part of the “aging Democratic Party” – a comment that drew grumbling from the crowd.
Scott, who seeking re-election this year, replied, “If somebody can do better for the next generation than I can, I’ll see them in November.”