BEND, Ore. - President Trump’s reported remarks at a closed-door discussion of immigration with lawmakers were “offensive and unnecessary,” Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., told reporters during a visit to Bend’s Deschutes Brewery. He also criticized House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s recent remarks and added, “We all have to be careful about the words we choose.”
“We all have to park offensive comments – both parties, leaders all over, whether you’re in corporate America, whether you’re in Hollywood, whether you’re in politics. We’ve got to respect each other. Our language matters, and it affects our ability to get things done,” Walden said before a tour of the brewery, a stop at which he touted the tax reform law and its 50 percent cut in excise taxes on craft breweries, among other benefits.
Asked about the president’s remarks, Walden twice brought up Pelosi’s comments about how “five white guys” were meeting to negotiate an immigration deal. A reporter asked if he thought the furor over Trump’s remarks would affect things in D.C., and he said it should not affect the talks to avert a federal government shutdown.
As for the negotiations on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and other hot-button immigration issues, Walden said there had been “a bipartisan effort for some time (about) how to modernize America’s immigration laws.”
Returning to his main theme -- the Tax Cut and Jobs Act -- Walden said 70 percent of Oregonians get a tax cut and soon will be able to “fill out a simple form and not hunt for tax breaks in the future.” He pointed to the 1 million bonuses being given by corporations and the wage increases being seen at Walmart and other businesses.
“We are stimulating the economy,” he said. “We are putting money back in the pockets of working Americans, and we are growing jobs.” He noted that small businesses will be able to write off the first year of investments made to grow or expand with equipment.
“If you’re a family of four in my district, making the median income, $70,000 a year, you’re going to see a $1,900 reduction in federal taxes,” Walden said. “That’s real money. That’s not crumbs. That’s real money.”
Walden also said he’s “very encouraged about our opportunity next week to fully fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program.” Funding for the program lapsed in the fall and has since been extended. “And not only do it at the biggest level since its creation, in terms of funding, but also the longest extension it’s ever had – six years,” he said.
Walden noted his CHIP bill passed the House last fall, also including funds for community health centers, but has been stuck in the Senate where they “can’t find a bipartisan agreement.”
“I am a lot more optimistic now (about CHIP) than I have been, because other things are coming together,” the congressman said, noting that 122,700 Oregonians rely on the program, which he called “an essential part of our safety net.”
When a reporter asked about Oregonians now not being able to deduct as much mortgage interest as they could under previous tax code, Walden first said Oregon is a “high-tax state” and to “look to the governor and (legislative) leaders in Salem to bring taxes down.”
“I did fight to get income tax deductibility in that $10,000” total deduction, he said, adding that most Oregonians don’t itemize their taxes today, and “fewer will, because we doubled the standard deduction and the individual tax credit for children.”
“This is the first step,” he said, acknowledging that the cut in the craft beverage excise tax expires in two years and the new individual tax rates expire in 2027. “We can come back and do more tax relief, if we can find the bipartisan will to do it,” he said.
Asked about efforts to add work requirements to Medicaid, Walden said the Trump administration took an “important” step by saying that states can propose such work requirements.
“The best thing you can have is a job. Get out of poverty – that’s a good thing for them and for the community,” Walden said.
He was quick to add, however, "You have to be very sensitive” in doing so. “There are people on Medicaid that have health issues that preclude them from working. These changes have to be done very, very thoughtfully.”
“Work is a good thing,” he repeated, then added that so is workforce training: “How do we help people get the skill set they need to get a better job than the one they have?”
“Folks tell me, ‘We have trouble finding people to fill these jobs,’” Walden said, He said there needs to be “a better state-federal partnership on workforce training. That’s a bipartisan issue. We have to always be modernizing our skill sets.”
Raw video of the entire 11-minute Walden talk with reporters is attached to this article.