Congressional candidates on the issues: Tax cuts and the federal deficit

The tax cuts signed into law by President Donald Trump have been lauded by many in the business community as a benefit to the economy — but are projected to add hundreds of billions to the federal deficit.

We continue with the Kansas 3rd Congressional District candidates’ responses to our questionnaire, which was developed in June with input from readers.

Eight of the nine candidates running from the seat are participating. (Incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder’s campaign says “we don’t participate in these types of surveys as a campaign policy.”)

Here’s question number four:

The tax cut bill signed into law by President Trump has reduced businesses’ and individuals’ tax liabilities by hundreds of millions of dollars. But the Congressional Budget Office projects the policy will add around $1 trillion to the federal deficit. Do you support the legislation? Are you comfortable with the increase in the federal deficit?

Democratic candidates

Jay Sidie

I do not support the tax-cut bill President Trump signed into law. Analysis of the bill has shown that it favors wealthy individuals, wealthy corporations and, surprise, President Trump himself. Chief among the issues with this tax bill is the drop to a 21% tax rate for corporations. These big businesses continue to pay wages that aren’t livable despite record high profits. Working people are still waiting for their raises, while corporations are using the additional money for initiating stock buyback plans that benefit shareholders. The tax bill is not a win for all Americans, it is a win for the richest 1 percent.

Much of the recent and projected increase in the federal budget deficit is due to the massive tax cut bill President Trump signed into law. I’m definitely not comfortable with a ballooning deficit due to this type of decision. (Reminder, the tax bill is a windfall for our nation’s wealthiest.). Congress has its priorities mixed up. They should be focused on creating jobs, expanding and improving healthcare for all Americans, ensuring our schools and teachers are fully funded, not on giving more money (and the power that comes with it) to a select few.

Sylvia Williams

I am not comfortable with the increase in the federal deficit. The federal deficit is one of the largest risks we have placed on our future generations. If we leave the tax rates as they are, I do see an opportunity. I believe we can raise targeted revenue to fund certain programs while reducing the deficit.

I support raising the cap on FICA for some employers. Large private employers received the bulk of the tax cuts and raising the FICA cap would preserve social security while reducing deficit spending.

I support setting guidelines on private insurance plans for some employers. Large private employers should have premium caps on the cost of their private plans. Doing this would reduce deficit spending by increasing the number of workers insured. Full-time workers should not be priced out of their employer plans.

I support modernizing our minimum wage system. Following an initial adjustment, we need annualized adjustments that are tied with the rate of inflation.

Brent Welder

The corrupt Trump/Yoder Corporate “Tax Cut” is not a tax cut at all for most of us.

By 2027, those making $10,000-$75,000 a year get a whopping 0% of the benefits. In fact, 53% of us will pay more in taxes.

This corporate giveaway benefits only the wealthiest in our country, while raising taxes on the middle class and poor. It follows the same failed ideas as the disastrous Brownback tax cut here in Kansas, and one of my top priorities in Congress will be to reverse it.

Congressman Kevin Yoder supported Trump’s corporate tax giveaway 100%, once again siding with Wall Street and billionaire donors instead Kansas’s working families.

And now, Congressman Yoder is trying to cut Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security to make up the difference. The Republicans have to do something to make up for the $1.5 trillion hole in the budget these tax cuts blew. So we’re on the chopping block.

Right now, money from your hard-earned paycheck is being handed over as corporate welfare to billionaires. So, we pay, and they win.

If you want to know why this is happening, look no further than the corporate PAC money used every day to corrupt our government officials. The tax giveaway was repayment for services rendered, to politicians who are completely dependent on their corporate money overlords.

I refuse to take corporate PAC money, and I’m the only candidate in this race who can say that. So you can count on me to never sell you out the way so many of our leaders, including Congressman Yoder, do right now.

We need a real tax cut for the middle class and poor in this country. We also need to close tax loopholes for giant corporations and billionaires, to fund important priorities that will help regular people such as expanded and improved Medicare and prescription drug coverage for all, expanded Social Security benefits, and debt free college education.

What we don’t need? To make the very rich richer, and give giant corporations a gift — directly from our own wallets.

Sharice Davids

The old tax code was outdated, but we are still learning the full consequences of the Republican bill that hastily passed early this year. What we do know is the that the new bill is a corporate giveaway and a handout to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. Worst yet, it saddles our future generations with a crippling financial burden and further in debts our country to foreign nations.

Congress must work to reform the tax legislation in order to create a true tax cut for the middle class while and ensuring that the wealthiest corporations and people pay their fair share. We must close corporate loopholes and provide relief for small business and working families.

Mike McCamon

Answer: I do not support the legislation and do not favor increasing our federal deficit. Tax policy absent budget realities is irresponsible governing and I agree the recent tax cut bill signed by our President will lead to much higher budget deficits and long term economic hardship for everyday Americans.

We have seen how tax experiments have led to our state budget crises in Kansas. Many of us in this area likely benefited through slightly lower taxes because of this legislation, but these cuts were modest at best and at a greater cost for our country.

Tax reform starts with budget reform. As your next member of Congress, I would work to reduce the spending of government by reprioritization and the use of technology to increase efficiency. We must objectively ask ourselves some very difficult questions about our Country’s priorities and I believe in the long term we can find consensus on how to fairly fund our government.

I believe our federal budgeting process should be forward looking with a long term plan while being designed to create market continuity and predictability. I would oppose budgets that lead to deficits or further increases in our federal debt.

Tom Niermann

Last year, Kevin Yoder voted for a bill that was the first step toward the tax plan signed into law. It is hard to remember another piece of legislation that was crafted in such clearly bad faith; in this proposal, our common belief in the American Dream is completely absent.

Republicans have been blanketing the airwaves with advertisements congratulating themselves for helping working families and billing this plan as tax relief for the middle class. Speaking as a member of the middle class, I would welcome such tax relief, but this sure isn’t it. In fact, the proposal almost certainly comes at a great cost to my family and millions of middle-class families like ours.

What we got instead was a fundamentally unfair and irresponsible new law – where members of the political donor class received as much as $1.4 billion, but middle class families are getting pennies. And the Republicans have already been clear about how they intend to pay for it – by slashing essential pillars of the government that the middle class relies on: Social Security, Medicare, education programs meant to level the playing field.

Kansas has seen this before – we just lived through Brownback’s tax disaster, which wreaked havoc on our infrastructure, social programs, and – most importantly – our schools.

Perhaps even more damaging was the repeal of the individual mandate, which repeal was deliberately implemented to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, causing premiums to skyrocket, and clear a pathway to removing protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

For me, this is personal – when our family was at its most financially fragile point, insurance companies denied my wife due to pre-existing conditions. We faced almost certain disaster, despite doing everything right – and our experience is commonplace. How is that acceptable in the United States? Protections for pre-existing conditions saved my family, yet Republicans are fighting to remove them. Make no mistake: the healthcare provisions of the tax bill were just as disastrous as its fiscal components.

Finally, our deficit is unsustainable. In good economic times, we should be paying down our debt, not adding to it. The students I teach are deeply concerned about the world they will inherit, from climate change to the national debt. We must not leave our kids skyrocketing interest rates, or put our country at risk of a default that would lead to a global meltdown. Democrats must be the party of fiscal responsibility, and that means repealing this law.

Republican candidates

Trevor Keegan

As a fiscal conservative, I am definitely not comfortable with the projected increase to our national debt that the tax reform bill will have. Therefore I do not and would not support similar legislation. We cannot continue to borrow against our children and grandchildren’s future to finance our current spending. There are many in the Republican party that will take every opportunity they have to cut taxes, while promising to reduce spending to make up for the shortfall. And yet we never get around to the second part of that equation. In fact, not long after the tax cut was passed, the Republican led Congress passed an omnibus spending bill that increased spending. Cutting revenue while increasing spending can only be called one thing: irresponsible.

We were told that the intended purpose of the tax cuts were to boost the economy, and yet for the first time in 10 years, our economy seemed to be doing just fine without any additional stimulus. Unemployment rates have been steadily dropping. The only thing that really hasn’t rebounded is wage growth, and I believe there are more precise ways to encourage wage growth than across the board tax cuts. For example, increasing business deductions for salaries would encourage wage growth by incentivizing companies to hire more workers or pay their existing workers more money. Across the board tax cuts are just as likely to spur investment in automation, putting further pressure on increasing wages. I would support responsible tax reform focused on simplifying the tax code. This reform should also focus on benefitting the middle class instead of corporations and the rich. One example of this in the recent tax reform bill is doubling the standard deduction. This should not only benefit the middle class, but also make it easier to do your own taxes, potentially saving families money from having to pay for that service.

As your congressman, I will not support any tax cuts while we are running a budget deficit, unless those tax cuts are deficit neutral, as rated by a non-partisan group like the CBO. I would also support a balanced budget amendment. This will ensure that even in the unfortunate event of having weak leaders like Kevin Yoder in Washington, Congress will be forced to make the hard decisions necessary to balance our budget that they seem to be unwilling or incapable of making currently.

Joe Myers

The so-called “tax cut” passed by the Trump administration is a scam. It’s resulted in most people getting nothing. The federal tax-cut give the richest people a windfall and encourages large companies to raise cash, even as inflation has cut most people’s income.

Rep. Kevin Yoder

Did not respond

Check back tomorrow for the candidates’ responses to item five:

The Affordable Care Act remains on the books, but the “individual mandate” requiring people to have health insurance is set to go away in 2019 under the 2017 tax bill. Some proponents of the ACA say this will further destabilize the Health Insurance Marketplace. Some opponents of the ACA say the entire law needs to be repealed. What health care coverage policies should the federal government be pursuing?