May 26, 2023

Warren, Markey, Whitehouse Blast Chamber of Commerce “Cheerleading” Republicans’ Radical Debt Ceiling Hostage Demands While Lobbying for Tax Breaks for Giant Corporations

“The American people deserve to understand why you are supporting even more deficit-busting tax giveaways for giant corporations, while also cheerleading Republican demands to inflict painful, job-killing austerity on everyone else in a pretense of ‘fiscal responsibility’.”

Republican tax cuts for wealthy and giant corporations added trillions to deficit; Republicans are now demanding cuts to critical programs for working families but also trillions in further tax breaks for the rich

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, sent a letter to the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber), seeking answers about the organization’s continued alignment with Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to extend tax cuts for wealthy and giant corporations, which have already contributed trillions to the national deficit – while, in the words of the Chamber’s chief policy officer, “cheerleading” House Republicans and their radical debt ceiling hostage demands to cut critical programs for working families. 

“House Republicans are using the debt ceiling to hold the U.S. economy hostage and demand massive cuts to critical programs relied on by millions of hardworking Americans. At the same time, these Republicans plan to turn around and introduce a tax package next month that will reportedly include proposals to extend [Tax Cuts and Job Act] tax giveaways, which could add a staggering additional $3.5 trillion to the deficit. Meanwhile, the Chamber continues to lobby for these outrageous tax breaks for its giant corporate members… the Chamber appears to be fully in support of this shameless hypocrisy,” wrote the senators. 

In the letter, the senators call out the Chamber and Republicans for working to extend their 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and giant corporations, even in the midst of their supposed concerns about government debt. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TJCA), which the Chamber spent millions to pass, increased the deficit by $1.9 trillion in order to pay for tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the richest individuals and corporations. 

Now, Republicans – who  manufactured a debt ceiling crisis by passing trillion in tax cuts when they were in charge – are threatening to let the government default on these debts it already owes unless radical cuts are made to critical programs for working families. These radical demands include cutting almost every government program that Americans rely on by at least 22% and kicking millions of the poorest Americans off Medicaid, food stamps, and income assistance by applying work requirements that are ineffective at promoting employment but effective as red tape.

“[Republicans’ reported new tax package] would bring the total cost of these Republican tax cuts to over $5.4 trillion over 15 years. Republicans spent $1.9 trillion on the first 10 years of TCJA tax cuts  – with the richest 20% of Americans getting 72% of the benefits, and the richest 1% alone getting 27% of the benefits.  If not for those Trump tax cuts, along with the Bush tax cuts and their extensions, U.S. debt would actually be declining as a share of GDP. Now, Republican proposals to make temporary TCJA tax giveaways permanent would add an additional $3.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years, according to a new estimate by the Congressional Budget Office.  Once again, the richest 20% would receive nearly two-thirds of the tax cuts and the richest 5% nearly 40%,” continued the senators. 

Given the Chamber’s apparent support for Republicans’ shameless hypocrisy of adding trillions to the national debt through tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations while holding critical programs for families hostage, the senators are asking the Chamber to answer, by June 2, 2023, a set of questions about its support for this plan and its continued efforts lobbying for it.

Senator Warren has led the fight against Republicans’ radical economic hostage-taking, calling on Congress to raise the debt limit, reject any proposal to cut funding for families, and make billionaires and corporations pay their fair share. She has worked to hold the Chamber and Republicans accountable for supporting corporate interests at the expense of working families: 

  • In May 2023, Senator Warren delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate, blasting Republicans’ proposals that would hold the economy hostage and weaponize red tape to strip away health care and other critical assistance from millions of families, while throwing nearly 800,000 Americans out of work.
  • In April 2023, Senator Warren released a statement following House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) speech on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, in which he called for spending cuts that could throw hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work.
  • In March 2023, chairing a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Policy on “The Federal Debt Limit and its Economic and Financial Consequences”, Senator Warren warned about the catastrophic economic consequences if the United States defaults on its debt or if lawmakers give in to House Republicans’ extreme proposals to slash critical investments in American families.
  • In March 2023, Senator Warren sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to put forward a budget that rejects Republican calls for tax breaks for the wealthy and massive cuts to key government programs. Senator Warren cited a new analysis from Moody’s Analytics finding that if Republicans trigger a default on government debt, the economy will be plunged into a recession and at least 1 million Americans will lose their jobs; and that if Democrats give in to Republican demands for massive cuts, this will also trigger a recession and cost 2.6 million jobs. 
  • In February 2023, Senators Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent a letter to the Chamber, calling it out for its opposition to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) proposed rule that would ban employers’ use of noncompete agreements. The senators are calling on the Chamber to explain why it is undermining its stated values by opposing this business-, worker-, and consumer-friendly policy. 
  • In February 2023, at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Warren called out Republicans’ for manufacturing a debt ceiling crisis and called on all lawmakers to refuse to cut a single dollar in support for working families. 
  • In January 2023, Senator Warren published an op-ed in the Boston Globe, calling out Republicans in Congress for their plan to hold the country’s debt limit hostage to protect the ultra-wealthy and giant corporations from paying their fair share in taxes, and making it clear that Democrats should refuse any cuts to programs that support millions of working families and small businesses. 
  • In November 2022, in a keynote speech, Senator Warren called on Congress to eliminate the debt ceiling because it only creates leverage for Republicans who are willing to destroy the economy for their own political power.