Voters are ready to punish Republicans for the new tax cut package, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi predicted Thursday, doubling down on her suggestion earlier this week that Democrats will try to roll back some of the tax cuts if they win a congressional majority in November’s elections.
She said that means a bipartisan “revisit” that “puts the middle class first.”
Speaking at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2018 “fiscal summit,” the California Democrat said the $1.5 trillion tax cut Republicans pushed through late last year isn’t wearing very well.
“They’re losing the public relations fight,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “They won the vote … but they have not won the public opinion of it because the experience people have is something very contrary to misrepresentations they have made about it.”
Mrs. Pelosi didn’t offer specifics on the exact changes she wants to make, though she said permanently lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent was the wrong approach. She also said spending on education would end up returning more money to the Treasury in the long run.
Earlier this year, Mrs. Pelosi said the bonuses and raises some companies doled out in the wake of the law’s passage amounted to “crumbs” for average Americans.
On Thursday she reiterated the sentiment, if not the exact wording, saying the tax bill is only helping the top 1 percent.
“Some have gotten a bonus, some have gotten a little raise, but they haven’t shared — it’s mostly been about buybacks and dividends and rewarding shareholders,” she said.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said voters should be alarmed by Mrs. Pelosi’s call to raise taxes and predicted voters would reject her message.
“They want to raise taxes on hard-working Americans. They want to raise taxes on businesses. They want to make it harder for American businesses to stay in America,” Mr. Ryan said. “I can’t imagine that America will want that to happen.”
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said Thursday the public is on his party’s side, and that Republicans talk about the tax cuts every chance they get.
“People are seeing more money in their paychecks. They like the direction we are headed,” the Louisiana Republican said on Fox News. “The last thing we need to do is what Pelosi said earlier this week.”
Mrs. Pelosi said Thursday she does want to make the tax cuts aimed at the “middle class” permanent.
Republicans have said they may vote later this year to make all of the individual tax rate cuts permanent. Under current law they expire after 2025, while the corporate tax cuts to 21 percent are permanent.
Rep. Derek Kilmer, who was also at the fiscal summit, said he doesn’t support a blanket permanent tax cut.
“If you talk to folks in my neck of the woods, their general sense is, this bill wasn’t for me,” said Mr. Kilmer, Washington Democrat. “The middle class families I represent feel like they may get some short-term benefit, but over the long haul the benefits don’t accrue to the everyday Americans that I represent.”