Gov. Andrew Cuomo was one of several Democratic governors who...

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was one of several Democratic governors who spoke out Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, against the Republican federal tax plan. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The governors of New York, New Jersey and California attacked a Republican-backed tax plan Monday as a way to divide Americans, reward campaign donors and justify slashing health care, housing and food stamp programs for the poor.

“It’s going to divide the hell out of us,” California Gov. Jerry Brown said on a conference call with New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy, all Democrats.

Brown accused Republicans of “acting like a bunch of mafia thugs” in rushing the tax plan through Congress without a full airing.

Cuomo said the plan would benefit the rich primarily and expand the national deficit. He said such a budget shortfall would be used in the future to justify reductions in spending for Medicaid, affordable housing, food stamps and other programs for the poor.

“This is political retaliation through the tax code,” said Cuomo, who has repeatedly attacked the GOP plan.

At issue is a tax plan Republicans are trying to enact before the end of the year, though the House and Senate would have to reconcile dueling versions.

Each plan would slash corporate rates, cut individual rates for some, double the standard deduction while eliminating individual deductions and restricting the ability to deduct local income and property taxes. That could hurt many homeowners in high-income, high-tax states such as the ones Cuomo, Murphy and Brown represent. Cuomo on Monday repeated a threat to sue to overturn the plan over the local deduction issue.

Congress’ nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation has found the bill will add $1 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years and grow the economy more slowly than Republicans have contended.

“They are creating the debt that will then justify . . . cutting government spending” on programs for the poor, Cuomo said. He predicted an immediate effort, if the tax plan is enacted, to “repeal and replace” it, just as Republicans attempted with the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

In contrast, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters after the vote: “I not only don’t think it will increase the deficit, I think it will be beyond revenue neutral. In other words, I think it will produce more than enough to fill that gap.”

Brown said the tax plan would hurt New York and California, two of the “vital sinews” of the American economy.