Trump Celebrates Tax Package: ‘Something Special’
President Donald Trump celebrated the tax reform passage at a White House ceremony Wednesday afternoon, with several Republican lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence serving as the backdrop to his brief speech.
“We are making America great again,” Trump said, before individually thanking certain members of the Republican Party who contributed to the effort. “You haven’t heard that, have you?”
The House voted to pass the GOP’s tax reform legislation in a Tuesday vote, although a technicality forced the chamber to revote on the bill Wednesday. The Senate also approved the legislation, which will soon head to Trump’s desk for signing.
“These are the people right behind me that worked so long, so hard. It’s been an amazing experience, I have to tell you,” Trump said. “Hasn’t been done in 34 years. … It’s the largest, I always say the most massive, but the largest tax cut in the history of our country and reform. But tax cut. Something special.”
Trump rattled off some of the benefits the tax plan will provide to America, which includes $3.2 trillion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses. He also referenced an announcement by AT&T, which said it will hand out $1,000 bonuses to more than 200,000 of its employees because of the tax legislation.
After Trump’s prepared remarks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Pence, and others took to the microphone.
Here are excerpts from their remarks:
McConnell: “[Trump has] ended the overregulation of the American economy. That, coupled with what we did last night and what the House finished this morning, means America is going to start growing again.”
Ryan: “The message to the hard-working taxpayers of America is your tax relief is on its way. That is what is happening here. The message to the families in America that have been struggling paycheck-to- paycheck, your tax rates are going down and your paychecks are going up. This is the kind of relief that Americans deserve.”
Pence: “I truly do believe, Mr. President, that this will be remembered as a pivotal moment in the life of our nation. A day when the Congress answered your call and made history. … This tax cut will put more money in the pockets of the American people. It will make our tax code more simple and more fair and more easy to understand and make businesses across America more competitive to create good-paying jobs and raise wages for working Americans.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah: “I came from very humble roots. And I have to say, this is one of the great privileges of my life to stand here on the White House lawn with the president of the United States who I love and appreciate so much and with these wonderful colleagues and cabinet members that stand behind us. To see all of you and realize that you care, too.”
The tax bill has to go through a brief legislative process before it lands on Trump’s desk. There is no word yet on when he will sign it into law.
Democrats call the legislation a boon to the rich that leaves middle-class and working Americans behind.
Trump said the effort had “been an amazing experience” and claimed it resulted in “the largest tax cut in the history of our country.”
Actually, Trump’s cuts are nowhere near the largest in U.S. history
The vote was 224-201 and came hours after the Senate’s early morning passage along party-lines.
Republicans cheered when the vote tally hit the magic number for passage, and again when the final vote was announced. One Democrat yelled, “Do over!”
It is the first major overhaul of the nation’s tax laws since 1986.
On Twitter and in White House remarks, Trump hailed the outcome, his own efforts and the work of GOP allies, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who had drawn the president’s wrath for the Senate’s inability this past summer to dismantle the health care law.
“Our team will go onto many more VICTORIES!” Trump tweeted.
Congressional Republicans have cast the bill as a blessing for the middle class, an argument they will stress in their drive to hold onto their congressional majorities in next year’s midterm elections. But one comment by Trump could complicate their messaging.
In praising the bill, Trump cited the deep cut in the corporate tax rate, from 35 percent to 21 percent.
“That’s probably the biggest factor in our plan,” the president said at the White House.
Within minutes, during House debate at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., jumped on Trump’s remarks, calling it proof that Republicans were never interested in passing meaningful tax cuts for the middle class.
In a statement, Trump said: “By cutting taxes and reforming the broken system, we are now pouring rocket fuel into the engine of our economy.”
The Senate used a post-midnight vote Wednesday morning to approve the measure on a party-line 51-48 tally. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., insisted Americans would respond positively to the tax bill.
“If we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work,” he said.
In an eleventh-hour hiccup Tuesday, the Senate parliamentarian found that three minor provisions violated Senate rules, forcing lawmakers to strip them out.
House Republicans had passed the bill Tuesday with all voting Democrats in opposition. Because of the language the Senate removed, the House had to revisit the measure Wednesday because each chamber must approve identical legislation before it can be signed into law.
“People have been hit by the media and the Democrats on their TV screen that everyone is getting a big tax increase, and that’s just not the case,” Ryan said Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Starting next year, families making between $50,000 and $75,000 will get average tax cuts of $890, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Families making between $100,000 and $200,000 would get average tax cuts of $2,260, while families making more than $1 million would get average tax cuts of nearly $70,000, according to the analysis.
But if the cuts for individuals are allowed to expire, most Americans — those making less than $75,000 — would see tax increases in 2027, according to congressional estimates.
Ryan said Wednesday the GOP is willing to risk running up deficits with the aim of getting a higher annual economic growth rate.
Trump is aching for a big political victory after 11 months of legislative failures and nonstarters. The president tweeted his congratulations to GOP leaders and to “all great House Republicans who voted in favor of cutting your taxes!”
Congressional Republicans, who faltered badly in trying to dismantle Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, see passage of the tax bill as crucial to proving to Americans they can govern — and imperative for holding onto House and Senate majorities in next year’s midterm elections.
“The proof will be in the paychecks,” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said during the Senate’s nighttime debate. “This is real tax relief, and it’s needed.”
Not so, said the top Senate Democrat as the long, late hours led to testy moments Tuesday night.
“We believe you are messing up America,” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer told Republicans, chiding them for not listening to his remarks.
The GOP has repeatedly argued the bill will spur economic growth as corporations, flush with cash, increase wages and hire more workers. But many voters in surveys see the legislation as a boost to the wealthy, such as Trump and his family, and a minor gain at best for the middle class.
Tax cuts for corporations would be permanent while the cuts for individuals would expire in 2026 to comply with Senate budget rules. The tax cuts would take effect in January, and workers would start to see changes in the amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks in February.
The top tax rate for well-off individuals would be lowered from 39.6 percent to 37 percent.
The legislation repeals an important part of the 2010 health care law — the requirement that all Americans carry health insurance or face a penalty — as the GOP looks to unravel the law it failed to repeal and replace this past summer. It also allows oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The $1,000-per-child tax credit doubles to $2,000, with up to $1,400 available in IRS refunds for families that owe little or no taxes.
The bill is projected to add $1.46 trillion to the nation’s debt over a decade. GOP lawmakers say they expect a future Congress to continue the tax cuts so they won’t expire. That would drive up deficits even further.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.