Comstock defends her support of the GOP tax bill

comstock photoRep. Comstock

The GOP-sponsored tax bill has been denounced by Democrats as a giveaway to the rich but Rep. Barbara Comstock, Northern Virginia’s lone Republican in Congress, plans to vote for the measure, which she said “cuts taxes for hardworking families and businesses and will help revitalize and create a healthy economy where American workers can compete and win.”

“Over the past several weeks I have worked with my colleagues to improve this bill from the initial version the House voted on.  I’m pleased that this final bill included many of the provisions that we fought to have included in the bill to help hardworking families and businesses,” Comstock said in an email.

Rep. Gerry Connolly and other Northern Virginia Democrats have said the bill would stunt economic growth and harm the middle class.

“The tax plan before us today would be a disaster for Northern Virginia. The GOP plan caps the state and local income deduction. It caps the mortgage interest deduction.  And it phases out the medical cost deduction,” Connolly said in an email to FairfaxNews. “Our district, where 50 percent of tax filers claim a SALT deduction, is one of the top congressional districts in the nation affected by this change, and 75 percent of our district’s SALT claimants are in the middle income tax brackets. 144,000 of my constituents claim the mortgage interest deduction, for an average savings of $2,946. These changes would be a devastating double whammy to Northern Virginia families.”

“This bill falls far short of our values. It would raise taxes on tens of millions of middle class Americans in order to finance permanent tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. By 2027, the Tax Policy Foundation projects more than half of households would face a tax increase. It explodes the deficit by nearly $1.5 trillion. And the conference report adds a devastating attack on the American healthcare system by repealing the individual mandate, leaving 13 million more Americans uninsured,” Connolly said.

Key provisions

Comstock said the bill contains many provisions that would be helpful to middle class voters, including:

  • Doubles the Child Tax Credit from the current $1k to $2k (H.R. 3833 which Rep. Comstock introduced this year also doubled the Child Tax Credit to $2k) while also making more families eligible for the credit by raising the income threshold to cover the vast majority of families with children, while also making the credit refundable for low income families.

o   Grants a $500 nonrefundable credit for other qualifying dependents such as certain college students and older adult dependents.

  • Incentivizes businesses to provide Paid Parental Leave of up to 12 weeks.  This is a first of its kind tax credit that will help Moms and Dads after the birth of a child or with an emergency medical situation.
  • Preserves the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit as well as Childcare Flexible accounts to help hardworking two earner families care for children and older dependents such as disabled grandparents.
  • Bans businesses from deducting settlements and fees for sexual harassment and abuse cases.  This is identical to Rep. Comstock’s H.R. 4514, introduced earlier this year.
  • Includes incentives to create “Opportunity Zones” to encourage investment in distressed communities by deferring capital gains which will give these communities a lifeline for growth, similar to H.R. 828, which Rep. Comstock cosponsored.
  • Roughly doubles the Standard Deduction from $6,500 for individuals and $13,000 for couples to $12,000 and $24,000.
  • Retains the Adoption Tax Credit.
  • Preserves the Mortgage Deduction.

o   For all homeowners with existing mortgages that were taken out to buy a home, there will be no change to the current mortgage interest deduction.

o   For homeowners with new mortgages on a first or second home, the home mortgage interest deduction will be available up to $750,000.

“As can be seen in the items above — many of the provisions that have been the focus of much discussion over the past few weeks — medical expense deductions, school loan deductions, private activity bonds, teacher classroom supply deduction, Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives — have been included in the final bill.  We listened to many of those concerned about these provisions and worked hard to address those concerns and we will continue to work going forward to protect hardworking taxpayers,” Comstock said.

“Rich rake it in”

Democrats disagree. “The rich rake it in,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said in a page on his website. “The Republican tax plan literally gives billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthy (including politicians like themselves), big corporations, and special interest donors. … Working folks see a tax hike.”

Comstock argues the GOP bill will revive job and salary growth: “The critics who oppose tax relief are many of the same people who supported the Obama tax increases over the past 8 years.  During this time, we’ve seen wages stagnate and innovation and opportunities diminish.  This legislation will start a turn around and provide a healthier economy for all.”

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.