Wyden: Dems Helped Stop GOP From Giving Tax 'Break to Kids That Weren't Even Born'

December 15, 2017

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) on Friday celebrated the removal of "fetal personhood language" from Republicans' tax reform bill.

MSNBC host Katy Tur listed for Wyden various provisions that, according to Bloomberg reporter Sahil Kapur, were removed from the tax bill. She particularly focused on the matter of fetal personhood; the provision would have allowed unborn children to be beneficiaries of college funds opened by their parents, and despite it no longer being in the bill, Tur wanted to discuss it.

"What is fetal personhood language?" she asked Wyden.

"Well, what they were trying to do was to extend a break to kids that weren't even born," Wyden said. "The reality is some of those things that you mention not being there, we got knocked out."

The provision had angered many pro-choice activists for attributing life to the unborn; Wyden, however, called them "kids," rather than "fetuses," which is the word pro-choice activists prefer. Opposition to the provision did not focus on the economics of the tax break, but rather on the problematic nature of attributing humanity to the unborn.

"One of the most obvious and egregious incarnations of Republicans' toxic political strategy is the inclusion of anti-abortion language in a provision of the bill specifying that an embryo or a fetus, which the bill calls 'an unborn child,' can be the beneficiaries of a type of college-savings plan called a 529," Jill Filipovic wrote for Cosmopolitan.

ThinkProgress, Rewire, and other pro-choice publications criticized Republicans for the provision's language, and Democrats agreed. Wyden did not just take credit for getting rid of that provision, but also said Democrats helped "knock out" things such as a repeal of the Johnson Amendment, which bars churches and other non-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax exemptions from engaging in political advocacy.

"This Johnson Amendment [repeal], that is basically Citizens United 2.0 that the Republicans have been pushing," Wyden said, referring to the Supreme Court decision deregulating corporate political speech. "They want to get the churches into politics."

He added that the "bottom line" is the tax bill is still a bad deal for the middle class, with "breaks for the multinational corporations" being permanent.