Politics & Government

‘Congress has delivered.’ Denham praises ‘milestone’ tax reform

Republican Jeff Denham helped his party pass the historic tax bill this week, despite its unpopularity among most Californians and analysts predicting the overhaul will end up slamming high-tax states such as California and New York.

Like Denham, of Turlock, most of the state’s House Republicans — 12 of 14 — voted for what they’ve dubbed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The two who didn’t, Darrell Issa of Vista and Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, are — also, like Denham — among those considered most vulnerable to Democratic challenges in next year’s midterm elections.

Denham, whose 10th Congressional District includes Stanislaus and southern San Joaquin counties, did not accept an invitation Wednesday to speak with The Modesto Bee about the tax bill.

In a release, he said, “Congress has delivered on our promise to lower taxes for the middle class,” and called the tax reform bill “a win for the valley and for everyone who will see an increase in their paychecks in 2018.”

Denham singled out the bill’s doubling of the child tax credit, and predicted that the average family of four in his district making $90,000 “will see a savings of $1,279.” In the release, Denham said the bill will expand exports of many locally grown farm products, allowing growers “to be more globally competitive and hire more of our neighbors.”

In a Tweet linked to a Fox News story, Denham praised the bill as “a historic milestone” for simplifying the tax code, boosting the economy “and reducing the tax burden for hardworking families.”

In another Tweet Wednesday, Denham attacked one of his nine Democratic challengers, former Riverbank Mayor Virginia Madueño, saying, “Sad to see @VMforCA10 lying to voters who will get tax cuts. She wants to keep your taxes high!!!” Both Tweets came from Denham’s re-election account, which is separate from his Congressional account.

Madueño had sponsored a petition drive targeting Denham for his support of the bill, which she called “loaded with giveaways to big corporations and the wealthiest of the wealthy, while leaving table scraps for the rest of us.”

Others saying they will run against Denham next year include Democrats Mike Barkley, Lisa Battista, Mateo Morelos Bedolla, T.J. Cox, Josh Harder, Dotty Nygard, Seth Vaughn and Sue Zwahlen, and independent Terra Snover.

Cox this week authored a piece on The Bee’s opinions page calling the tax bill “an atrocity,” “a con job” and “a betrayal” of regular people in Denham’s district.

Denham’s office on Sisk Road in north Modesto has been the site of several demonstrations in recent weeks by groups unhappy with the tax bill and other hot-button topics.

Democratic forces hoping to flip some House Republican seats launched new attack ads Wednesday aimed at Denham and others viewed as vulnerable, saying they “just scrooged us” with votes for the tax overhaul. The drive is led by former California Sen. Barbara Boxer and her political action committee.

Also Wednesday, the Huffington Post’s Facebook page poked fun at several House Republicans who stumbled when asked to list the bill’s tax brackets off the top of their heads. The first ridiculed in the four-minute video was Denham, who said he studied the bill for two weeks. Pressed to name the bill’s seven tax brackets, Denham said, “This is an amazing bill that’s going to help the entire country, especially the middle class in my district.” The brackets are listed in his release.

Issa and Rohrabacher, bucking GOP pressure, said they weren’t convinced that the bill would help their constituents enough.

“I still fear that even in the revised proposal, many in my area could face higher taxes,” Issa said in a release before the vote. His district includes the coast of southern Orange and northern San Diego counties, and Rohrabacher’s district also is on Orange County’s coast.

A recent survey found about 20 percent of people in California think the tax overhaul would have a positive effect on their lives.

Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390