FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 file photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., joined by House Republicans, speaks to the media following a vote on tax reform, on Capitol Hill in Washington. A popular deduction targeted in the GOP’s overhaul of the tax code is used by more than a quarter of all filers in a majority of states, including many led by Republicans where some residents eventually could see their federal tax bills rise. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Republicans’ moment of truth is based on an outright lie: The tax plan they’re about to ram through Congress is supposed to focus on the middle class and pay for itself. Both claims are nothing but cruel and irresponsible partisan propaganda.

President Donald Trump and Republicans across the country, including Congressman Mike Coffman here in Aurora, campaigned last year on the need to deliver fiscal responsibility to Washington and tax relief to the middle class. They had their chance to make good on those promises Friday after taking weeks to create a tax-reform plan that is anything but what Republicans campaigned for and promised.

The GOP tax-plan gives massive tax breaks to wealthy Americans and businesses and will run up staggering national debt to do it. Middle-class taxpayers, however, thrashed by stagnant wages, eroding jobs, spiraling health-care costs and threats to cut safety nets out from under them, get relative peanuts in this plan, and only for a few years.

Because Republicans agreed to try and force this bill through Congress on a single-party vote, they obliged themselves to play by rigid financial rules. Budgetary constraints required Republicans to create a new tax policy that would add no more than $1.5 trillion to the nation’s already swollen and growing national debt over 10 years. Because the tax gifts to corporations and the wealthy are so extraordinarily large, they hogged up the limit and resulted in meager — temporary — tax relief for the poor and middle class. Tax cuts for most Americans would begin phasing out after next year and end completely by 2023.

These aren’t wild assertions by opposing Democrats. These damaging facts come from the bill itself, Congress’ non-partisan research and data experts and just about ever credible economic expert in the country.

The GOP tax plan is a hot mess on countless levels, making the mistakes Democrats inflicted while creating Obamacare seem like nothing more than a bad day in Congress.

While touting moves to strike the cruelest, most offensive requirements from this bill —  such as adding taxes to poor grad students, teachers and restricting mortgage interest deductions— Republicans overlook the worst parts of this package:

• To help pay for corporate tax cuts, it ends the Obamacare insurance mandate, guaranteeing that abut 13 million Americans will end their health insurance. That would disrupt the already volatile and punitive health-care insurance industry, guarantee rate hikes for almost all Americans, and working to destroy the Affordable Care Act,  which a majority of Americans want preserved.

• It forces the government to borrow more than a trillion dollars to pay for tax cuts to already-flush corporations and individuals, while limiting relatively stingy tax cuts for the middle class.

• It would force a future Congress to either cut programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and military spending to preserve tax cuts for the rich and corporate businesses.

• It provides for too little tax relief for middle-class Americans, who are sinking under the weight of exploding housing and health-care costs.

• The bill has been loaded up with gifts and exceptions made for deep-pocket special interest groups, such as real-estate investors, private jet producers and even the citrus industry.

After rightfully complaining for years how the Affordable Care Act was rushed through and passed on a partisan vote, it’s shocking that Republicans would make the exact same mistakes with a bill that has ended up being so vague, so profoundly unfair and so fiscally irresponsible.

We appeal to Congressman Mike Coffman, who not long ago said the country’s crushing national debt is a priority for Washington — decreasing it, not exploding it. We appeal to Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who once touted his courage to split from his party when it strayed from Colorado common-sense principals and values, none of which are exhibited in the this tax package.

There’s little doubt, judging by the public’s reaction to this ill-gotten legislation, that Republicans who vote for it will regret their support, and it’s cruel to force so many millions of middle-class Americans to regret their mistake for what could be decades to come.

America needs responsible tax reform, and this is anything but that. Start over.