As Nebraska's Republican delegation in Congress hailed the passage of a massive tax cut bill as good news for families and businesses, Democratic candidates seized on the issue Wednesday and party activists prepared to take to the streets.
Democratic rallies were scheduled Wednesday evening at Senate and House offices in Lincoln, Omaha and Grand Island, following a final vote in the House on Wednesday.
Sen. Deb Fischer said the bill represents "a once-in-a-generation opportunity" to deliver tax relief to families across the country.
"Because of this legislation, many Americans will have bigger paychecks, our businesses will have more opportunities to invest and grow, and our country will regain our competitive edge in the global marketplace," Fischer said.
Sen. Ben Sasse hailed the legislation's repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate that everybody have health care insurance.
"In practice," he said, "it meant that families were presented with a terrible decision: either pay a federal fine or pay an unaffordable price for one of the crummy choices still available on the (health care insurance) exchanges."
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln said the legislation "moves money back into the pockets of hardworking Americans, seeks to reignite Main Street entrepreneurial momentum and revives the Made in America label."
Fortenberry pointed to doubling of the child tax credit and enhancement of the deductibility of medical expenses while preserving tuition waiver benefits for students.
Rep. Don Bacon, who represents the metropolitan Omaha congressional district, said the bill will give the typical family of four earning the median income of $73,000 a tax cut of $2,059.
Meanwhile, he said, Nebraska businesses will also benefit from the measure through the delivery of "significant tax relief to Main Street job-creators."
Rep. Adrian Smith of Gering, who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, where the bill first took shape, said the measure is "designed to improve the lives of people across the country."
The bill doubles the standard income tax deduction, increases the child tax credit and encourages businesses to "invest, create jobs and raise wages," Smith said.
"I fought hard to enable producers to continue to deduct their full property taxes on agricultural land," the congressman said.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced it will target Bacon in his competitive Omaha district with a digital holiday ad campaign attacking his vote as a Christmas gift to millionaires, billionaires and large corporations.
In a campaign news release, former Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford, who will seek to unseat Bacon in 2018, described the legislation as "a bad deal for Nebraskans."
Repeal of the individual mandate in Obamacare will cause large health insurance premium increases and leave millions of people without health insurance, Ashford said.
Dennis Crawford of Lincoln, a Democratic candidate for Fortenberry's House seat, said the congressman "betrayed his constituents" in voting for the legislation.
It will "blow up the deficit" and raise taxes on many middle-class Americans while delivering a tax cut to special interests and "the top 1 percent" of wealthiest Americans, Crawford said.
Democratic Senate candidate Jane Raybould described the bill as "perilous" and said Nebraskans are just learning about its contents.
"It is in fact a vote that only comes once in a generation because its record-breaking cost will pass at least $1.5 trillion in debt to our children and grandchildren," Raybould said.
Nebraska Democrats planned rallies to target Bacon's office in Omaha, Smith's office in Grand Island and the Lincoln office of Fischer, who will be seeking re-election next year.
"Republicans in the House of Representatives just passed a bill that gives 80 percent of the tax breaks to the wealthy while raising taxes on 80 million middle-class families," Democratic State Chairwoman Jane Kleeb said.