President Donald Trump, fresh off a Senate vote that puts him a step closer to passing a tax-cut bill by year-end, declared himself “unbeatable” for re-election—and unexpectedly suggested a critical element of the Congressional tax plan is open to debate.
Boarding Marine One at the White House, Trump said of the corporate tax rate, “it could be 22 (percent) when it comes out. We are going to see what ultimately comes out.” Trump and the White House had previously suggested that a 20-percent corporate tax rate was a requirement for Trump to support the tax package.
The president spoke hours after the Senate narrowly approved the most sweeping rewrite of the U.S. tax code in three decades, slashing the corporate tax rate and providing temporary tax-rate cuts for most Americans.
Senate and House negotiators will get to work within days to reconcile the measure with the one passed by the House in November. The bills have some significant differences, yet both versions agreed that the corporate tax rate will be set at 20 percent, versus the current 35 percent. Trump has even mused that he’d like to get the corporate rate even lower. “I hope it’s going to be 15 percent,” he said in September.
Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming downplayed Trump’s comment on “Fox News Sunday.” Asked if a 22-percent corporate tax rate was a possibility, he said “Well, everybody’s going to have to decide for themselves how they would vote. My preference is 20 percent.”
Musing on Invincibility
Every one percentage point change in the corporate tax rate is equivalent to about $100 billion in revenue over 10 years. Setting the rate at 22 percent against 20 percent would free up roughly $200 billion in revenue.
At New York’s Cipriani restaurant, the first of three stops in a day of fund-raising, Trump linked what he cast as his electoral invincibility with this year’s gains in the stock market as well as the tax plan.
“One of the reasons is what’s happening with the markets, what’s happening with business, what’s happening with jobs,” Trump told about 450 attendees at the Midtown restaurant. In total, Trump’s appearances in his home town were expected to raise about $6 million.
“Unless they have somebody that we don’t know about, right now we’re unbeatable,” Trump said.
How’s Your 401(k)?
Trump also said that the rise in many people’s 401(k) retirement balances with the stock market’s surge to record highs would make a good campaign line. He recounted an anecdote he said occurred backstage, before Saturday’s event:
“One great gentleman came up and he said, ‘Sir, I want to thank you.’ I said, ‘What did I do for you?’ He said, ‘My 401(k) is up 40 percent.’ And I never thought it! You know, I tell you, he gave me one of the great campaign lines. It’s called ‘How is your 401(k) doing?’”
The president, without elaboration, said that “new numbers just came out” backing up his assessment of the electoral landscape. The comment appeared to relate to recent fundraising tallies for Republicans versus those for Democratic organizations.
The president’s final event in New York was a fundraiser at the Manhattan home of billionaire Blackstone Group LP Chief Executive Officer Stephen Schwarzman, said two people familiar with the event who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Peter Grauer, chairman of Bloomberg LP, is a non-executive director at the Blackstone Group LP.
—With assistance from Daniel Flatley