Anna's Weekly Update
Highlights of What Congress Did This Week
Ryan-McConnell Tax Plan
Republicans unveiled their vision for tax reform this week, and it isn’t pretty. The proposal raises taxes on the middle class and showers the wealthiest one percent of our country with 80 percent of the benefits, at a total cost of $1.5 trillion charged to the nation’s credit card. It targets important tax deductions that benefit middle-class families, most importantly eliminating the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT), which raises taxes on the middle class. Almost 200,000 of my constituents benefit from the deductibility of SALT and they save on average $31,193 every year from this benefit. Other tax deductions that have been eliminated under the plan include:
- Elimination of deductibility for medical expenses.
- Elimination of deductibility for interest paid on student loans.
- Currently, employees can receive tuition payment benefits from their employer and the IRS doesn’t count that as income. Under the tax reform proposal released yesterday, this benefit would now be taxed as income.
- Slashes in half the current cap on the deductibility of mortgage interest paid.
- Eliminates the $7,500 tax credit for consumers who purchase electric vehicles.
- Repeals the tax credit for adoption.
To add insult to injury, the proposal also eliminates the deduction for personal property losses resulting from one natural disaster: fire. Californians just experienced the worst fires in our history with over 14,000 homes lost at a cost of at least $3 billion, and this is especially cruel in my view.
When policies weaken the middle class, the backbone of our country, they weaken our entire country.
Voted on the Reauthorization of Children’s Health Insurance Program and Community Health Centers Funding (CHIP/CHC)
This week, House Republicans brought a ‘poisoned package’ to the floor to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Community Health Centers.
CHIP and Community Health Centers have consistently been popular bipartisan programs. They fund healthcare for millions of children in our country and provide resources to Community Health Centers in our Congressional District, including the Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) Health Center in San Jose; the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley; Planned Parenthood Mar Monte; and the Ravenswood Health Center on the border of our Congressional District in East Palo Alto.
Instead of reauthorizing these programs on a bipartisan basis, the Republicans offered a false choice- - in order to provide health care for some, Congress cut health care for others. The plan extends funding for CHIP and Community Health Centers by cutting millions from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which includes vaccination programs, infectious disease prevention and chronic disease prevention. To read my full statement, CLICK HERE.
Legislation Anna Co-Sponsored This Week
H.R. 3848, We the People Democracy Reform Act of 2017
This week, I cosponsored comprehensive legislation to reform our laws around campaign finance, elections, and ethics in government. The We the People Act is a compendium of dozens of democracy reform proposals, including several that I have supported in the past and some new ones. For example, H.R. 3848 contains my legislation to require the sitting president and major party nominees to disclose their tax return information. It also requires full and immediate disclosure of all campaign spending and donations; requires each state to establish an independent citizen redistricting commission and automatic voter registration; and creates new small-donor public financing systems for Presidential and Congressional elections. This bill is the most comprehensive effort to date to reform campaign disclosure laws, campaign financing, ethics, gerrymandering and elections laws, and I’m very proud to support it.
For more information on this bill, I recommend E.J. Dionne’s column in the Washington Post (10/15/17) in which he highlighted the importance of the We the People Act.
H.R. 3079, the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2017
Over twenty years ago, Congress passed the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 which required an audit of every agency. Since then, the Pentagon has failed to undergo an independent audit of its finances. The Pentagon consumes more than half of the federal discretionary budget, but we still do not have a clear accounting of where hard-earned taxpayer money is going. The Audit the Pentagon Act of 2017 imposes a 0.5% budget cut penalty on the Pentagon each year it fails to undergo an audit. Every federal agency should be subjected to an independent audit, and most certainly the largest.
H.R. 4082, the Protect Access to Birth Control Act
After the Trump Administration announced they plan to roll back the requirement that employer sponsored insurance plans cover contraceptives, I cosponsored the Protect Access to Birth Control Act to repeal the rule and safeguard this benefit for working women in America.
The two interim final rules issued in October allow nearly any employer to be exempt from the requirement to cover birth control and other forms of contraception without cost-sharing. This legislation treats these rules as though they never took effect, thereby securing the right to birth control coverage as guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act.
H.R. 4072, the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act
The Central Coast of California is home to some of the most diverse ecosystems and it provides invaluable local water and supplies to our communities. We have a responsibility to protect these special places for future generations.
To protect these lands, I’m a cosponsor of the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which would designate nearly 25,000 acres of public land in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plan National Monument as wilderness. The wilderness designation offers the highest level of protection for all federal lands. The legislation also establishes a 400-mile long Condor National Recreation trail, stretching from Los Angeles to Monterey County.
Policy Letters Anna Wrote and Cosigned This Week
Letter to President Trump Requesting Disaster Recovery Funding for California
Last weekend I traveled to Napa and Sonoma Counties to witness firsthand the devastation caused by the wildfires that ravaged these areas. I met with first responders, state and federal teams, families and elected officials. This week, I joined California colleagues in requesting President Trump to include additional funding to help California recover from these wildfires.
California is the most populous U.S. state and the sixth largest economy in the world, with nearly 40 million residents, 109 federally-recognized tribal nations, 58 counties and a gross state product of approximately $2.5 trillion. The fires directly impacted eight counties and three Tribal Nations. The full economic impact to the agricultural, tourism, hospitality, and wine industries is still not known. Nine California wineries were destroyed and 21 were damaged in the nation’s most prominent winemaking region. This letter asks President Trump to work with us to ensure that those who have been impacted by these fires receive the federal help they need and deserve.
Signed a Supreme Court Amicus Brief in an LGBT Discrimination Case
This week, I joined over 200 of my Congressional colleagues in filing an Amicus Brief supporting a same-sex couple in the U.S. Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In this case, the owner of a bakery refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. The Supreme Court will consider whether or not businesses can ignore state nondiscrimination laws if their motivation for discriminating is based on religious or moral disapproval of LGBT individuals. The case has the potential to create a broad loophole to every nondiscrimination statute across the country.
The fight for LGBT equality did not end with marriage equality. We have to continue the battle to ensure that LGBT Americans do not face discrimination and are treated with equity, dignity and respect.
Letter to the Department of Interior on National Park Fee Hikes
Over 200 of my constituents have written to me to express their opposition to the Department of Interior’s proposal to raise the fees at 17 of the most popular National Parks, including Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, and the Grand Canyon. The proposed plan would raise fees at these parks from the current $25/30 rate per vehicle to $75 per vehicle during the five-month peak season. Per-person entry fees for park visitors on foot or bicycle would rise from the current $10/15 rate to $30 under the proposal.
This week I joined over 100 colleagues in writing to the Department of Interior expressing our concern regarding this plan. Nearly doubling or tripling entrance fees would severely curtail the number of American families who are able to afford to visit the parks that belong to them. Under the proposed fee structure, low-income families could potentially be priced out of our most cherished public lands. Public lands belong to all Americans, not just those families who can absorb the steep fee increases.
This week I joined several California Democratic colleagues to discuss the devastating impacts the elimination of deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT) would have on my constituents and all Californians. I called out the 14 Republican members of the California delegation for betraying their constituents and our state by voting to eliminate the deductibility of SALT which would raise taxes on the middle class.
It’s important to note that Republicans from other states with the SALT deduction have stated they would not vote for the bill because of how much it hurt their state’s economy and their constituents. All 14 California Republicans set aside middle class constituents and our state’s economy and voted to support it.
In My Constituents’ Words
Every week hundreds of my constituents call and write to me to express their concerns, share their passions and ask questions regarding legislation and policies. I actually read every communication and every constituent receives a personal response to their specific questions and comments.
Here are some of the issues constituents wrote and called me about this week:
- 468 constituents wrote in opposition to the Trump Administration’s proposed plans to shrink or rescind national monuments
- 217 constituents wrote to me in opposition to the proposed fee hikes at national parks
- 166 constituents wrote to me to express their opposition to the Ryan-McConnell Tax Plan
Anna in the News
Frequently, Anna’s legislation is written about in the news. Here are some excerpts from this week’s ‘Anna in the News’
New York Times: “House to Vote on Child Health Care, but Funding Will Remain in Limbo”
“The House on Friday is expected to pass legislation to refinance the Children’s Health Insurance Program and send federal funds to community health centers. But a partisan morass over how to pay for the legislation all but ensures that state governments and millions of children will get little relief from the uncertainty that has faced the programs since funding officially expired a month ago.
“Democrats are outraged that Republicans insist on offsetting every dollar of new spending on the child health program while pushing a tax bill that could add as much as $1.5 trillion to federal budget deficits over 10 years.
“None of the tax cuts being talked about are paid for,” said Representative Anna G. Eshoo, Democrat of California.” To read the full article, CLICK HERE.
Anna’s Recommended Reading
Frequently, I read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
The New York Times- “‘Major, Major’ Tax Cut May Not Be in Store for Middle Class” (Includes link to the article)
The New York Times published an analysis this week of the Ryan-McConnell tax plan, finding that the myriad changes in the code would actually raise taxes on nearly 13 million tax filers who earn $100,000 a year or less, according to preliminary calculations using the open-source economic modeling software TaxBrain. The analysis also found that six of 10 respondents in a survey conducted by the Global Strategy Group said they believed the plan would benefit the wealthy more than the middle class.
The New York Times- “A Tax Plan for a New Gilded Age” (Includes link to the article)
The New York Times also published an editorial this week coming out against the Ryan-McConnell tax plan, claiming this plan would slash taxes on the wealthy and blow up the federal budget deficit.