Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) could not believe that Democrats had called a hearing to say bad things about the new tax law Republicans rushed through Congress at the end of 2017.
Kelly said during Wednesday’s Ways and Means Committee hearing that the law’s lower tax rates had contributed to economic growth, rising wages and more job openings ― and Democrats don’t like that?
It reminded him of a time he visited the Louvre Museum in Paris, where the Mona Lisa, a famous 16th-century painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, is on permanent display. So Kelly told a story.
“I was standing there looking at this magnificent portrait by Da Vinci and I thought, ‘This is absolutely gorgeous,’” Kelly said.
Then a guy came up beside him and asked him what he thought of the painting. Kelly said he thought it was gorgeous, but the guy did not agree.
“He says ‘I don’t think so, I think her mouth is kind of funny,’” Kelly said.
Democrats who don’t like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are like that guy, according to Kelly.
“We take a classic painting, we take a classic piece of legislation, we talk about the most important thing in economic growth that this country has seen and we we say, ‘You know what, it just wasn’t good enough? That’s why we couldn’t vote for it’?” Kelly bellowed from the dais.
Kelly’s story may be of most ambitious rhetorical brushstrokes from a committee dais of all time.
They decided the most urgent national priorities were to provide a massive tax cut to corporations, business owners and those who have inherited large sums of money.
Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.)
Republicans themselves have always admitted their tax law had minor flaws. Democrats, meanwhile, have always maintained that the law was fundamentally bad, that it overly benefited the rich, and that the economic growth it spurred wasn’t worth the cost. (Economists do agree with Republicans that the law probably boosted economic growth.)
One similarity between the Mona Lisa and the tax law might be that like the Mona Lisa, some people’s tax refunds this filing season are smaller than anticipated. One difference is that Da Vinci spent years on the painting, while Republicans spent less than two months drafting their tax law.
Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said that the hearing was actually the first “thorough review” of the law, since Republicans had not had a hearing on it before they passed it.
“The law’s proponents made choices about what and whom to prioritize and what and whom, unfortunately, to leave out,” Neal said. “They decided the most urgent national priorities were to provide a massive tax cut to corporations, business owners and those who have inherited large sums of money.”
Kelly asked the labor and tax experts at the witness table, most of whom Democrats had invited to testify, to raise their hands if they really thought the law hurt America. Four of the five did.
“None of you think it was good,” he said. “Really?”