President Donald Trump declared that Republicans had passed the largest tax cut in U.S. history and said corporations would no longer relocate their headquarters overseas after the House sent the legislation to his desk on Wednesday.
“It hasn’t been done in 34 years, but actually hasn’t been done, because we broke every record,” Trump said at a White House event to celebrate the Republican tax overhaul. “We’re not going to lose our companies any more. They’re going to stay in our country.”
The White House took a victory lap on Wednesday after the tax bill cleared the House, with a briefing for reporters by anonymous officials and in an interview ahead of Trump’s public remarks. It’s not clear when Trump will sign the legislation. Trump has often compared the bill to former President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax overhaul, passed 31 years ago.
The president set broad guidelines for a tax overhaul while leaving Congress to write the measure and kept up momentum for the legislation with frequent public remarks, a strategy his aides said was crucial to get the unpopular bill cleared for Trump’s signature.
“It’s always a lot of fun when you win,” Trump said. “If you work hard and lose, that’s not acceptable.”
He set some broad parameters for the bill, the officials said—and also insisted on some changes. He knocked down a House Republican proposal to limit savings in tax-advantaged 401(k) retirement accounts. He strongly backed repealing the Obamacare requirement that most Americans carry health insurance after Republican senators raised the prospect of including it in the bill.
On the corporate tax rate, Trump first called for cutting it to 15 percent, then agreed to 20 percent and finally suggested he’d be willing to accept 22 percent. The final bill set it at 21 percent.
Trump spoke about the tax overhaul publicly 18 times since August, including speeches in five states, the officials said. Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials spoke at 40 tax events in two weeks during Trump’s trip to Asia in early November.
The president made about 100 calls with members of Congress, and his aides, led by National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, met with 260 lawmakers, the officials said.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a senior adviser, met with 20 lawmakers and hosted dinner parties at her home for members of Congress with Cohn and Mnuchin aides, the officials said.
The officials credited several catchphrases the president coined with helping to brand the measure. At various points he called the legislation a “middle-class miracle,” “rocket fuel for our economy” and promised Americans “tax cuts for Christmas.”
Despite that, public opinion of the legislation is poor. Only 24 percent of Americans think the overhaul is a good idea, and almost two-thirds believe it was designed to help the wealthy, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday.
Independent analyses of the plan have found that most of its benefits would flow to wealthier Americans.
The president, the officials said, will attempt to turn around the bad polling with an aggressive public campaign on behalf of the measure. And the officials said they’re confident public opinion will change as workers begin to see the result of the tax cuts in their paychecks, perhaps as soon as February.