A full house of interested constituents came to hear Reps. Buck and Brady answer questions.
BY FREDA MIKLIN
Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado’s 4th District held a traditional town hall meeting on July 20 at the Lone Tree Hub in Lone Tree to answer questions about the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). With him was Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, chair of the House Ways & Means Committee.
Brady began by telling the mostly supportive standing room only crowd of 200 that, as a result of the TCJA, investments are coming back to America. He said, “With a stronger economy, businesses and people have more money in their pocket.” As an example of a new benefit to families from the TCJA, Brady pointed to the ability of parents to use Section 529 savings accounts to pay for K-12 (private) schools, instead of only college education expenses.
Ken Buck held a town hall to talk about the 2017 tax cut act.
Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady answered questions about the tax cut act.
Asked about limitations on contributions to Individual Retirement Accounts, Brady said that those limits will be increased in the next tax bill. He also shared that he intended to make important parts of the TCJA permanent in the next tax bill (Individual tax cuts in the TCJA expire in 2025; the corporate rate tax cut is permanent.) including doubling the standard deduction and child tax credit, and the elimination of the alternative minimum tax (AMT). The AMT began as a program to ensure that everyone pays a minimum amount of tax, to keep wealthy taxpayers from using deductions to avoid paying any income tax. Over the years, its rate has increased, while regular income tax rates have decreased. As a result, many middle-income taxpayers have had to pay it, instead of just the wealthy. Rather than adjust the rates and brackets, Congress decided to eliminate it.
A woman in the audience tried to ask Buck about immigration, pointing out that he serves on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. Buck said that this town hall meeting was only to discuss the TCJA. He did come back to the question at the end of the meeting, but after being interrupted with audible negative reactions from some audience members partway through his answer, he didn’t finish it.
A pastor from Elizabeth, asked Brady how the TCJA helps the poor? Brady said, “It gives them hope.” That drew audible laughter from some in the crowd.
The next questioner said, “I’ve read that the TCJA mostly benefits the top 1 percent (of individual earners) and that it is increasing the (U.S.) deficit. Is that true?” Brady responded that it has been fact-checked that the tax cuts have gone to the middle class and recommended that the questioner, “Look it up on Google.” That response also drew audible laughter from some in the audience. Brady quickly began talking about a lady he met in Home Depot who told him she was very grateful that her income taxes were reduced by $184 because of the TCJA, to which the audience reacted very positively.
Brady said that the deficit was going up, but not due to the TCJA, but because, “spending is out of control.” Asked if there was any evidence that the corporate tax rate cut (from 34 percent on taxable income from $75,000 to $10 million, and 35 percent over $10 million) to 21 percent was being passed on to employees, he said yes that in addition to bonuses, wages were going up. It was clear that not everyone in the audience believed him, but Brady continued, saying that over 1 million jobs had been created since TCJA went into effect and that, “You can’t believe how many businesses are bringing money back to the U.S. from overseas.”
A young professional described his company as having used its tax cut windfall to buy back its own stock, explaining that it was on pace to spend $1 billion for that purpose this year. He wanted to know from Brady if the federal government could require employers to use any money from the tax rate cut to increase wages? He calculated that his company could have raised every one of its employees’ wages by $15,000 with the money it saved in taxes. Brady said he would not favor such a requirement, and that companies buying back their own stock increases the stock’s value, hence its price, which benefits everyone, including employees, who own the stock. He went on to say that if employees own their companies’ stock in their retirement accounts, the value of those retirement accounts would increase as a result of the stock buybacks, so employees benefit.
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