Several major corporations already have responded to the passage Wednesday of the biggest rewrite of the federal tax code since the Reagan administration by raising wages and offering year-end employee bonuses.
At an event on the White House lawn celebrating what Republicans say amounts to some $3.2 trillion in tax cuts and a simplified tax code, President Trump touted AT&T’s announcement that it will give an expanded bonus of $1,000 to 200,000 employees.
Also, Boeing has announced a $300 million employee-related and charitable investment as a result the tax-reform legislation “to support our heroes, our homes and our future.”
In addition, Wells Fargo and Fifth Third Bancorp will raise their minimum hourly wage to $15, and Fifth Third will pay an additional bonus of $1,000 to 13,000 employees.
And Comcast NBC Universal said it would award $1,000 bonuses to more than 100,000 non-executive employees. Comcast NBC Universal Chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts also said the company plans to spend more than $50 billion in the next five years on infrastructure investments that he expects will create “thousands of new direct and indirect jobs.”
Comcast said the initiatives were based not only on the passage of tax reform but also on the FCC’s recent decision to eliminate the Obama-era “net neutrality” government regulation of the Internet.
Kroger CEO W. Rodney McMullen was among many executives who were “very excited” about where the bill was headed before it passed. He said in November it will influence his company “to continue to invest in our business, which will grow jobs.”
Trump and Republican leaders Wednesday at the White House celebrated the bill as a historic, pivotal point in American history and a giant Christmas present to the nation.
“We’re going to see something that’s going to be very special,” Trump said of the bill, which was finalized Wednesday with a 224-201 House vote. “We’re bringing the entrepreneur back into this country. We’re getting rid of all the knots and all the ties, and you’re going to see. You’re going to see what happens. And ultimately, what does it mean? It means jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Passed in both chambers with no Democrat votes, the bill cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. It also doubles the standard deduction to $24,000 for married couples and doubles the child-tax credit to $2,000, with up to $1,400 available in refunds for families who owe little or no taxes. The bill maintains seven personal income tax brackets and lowers the tax rates for most brackets, reducing the top rate to 37 percent from 39.6 percent.
The Republican leaders promised the impact of the tax bill will begin to show up in paychecks in February as the amount withheld for federal taxes is reduced.
Some Republican members of Congress in the high-tax states of California, New Jersey and New York opposed the bill because it puts a $10,000 cap on the deduction of state, local and property taxes.
The left-leaning Tax Policy Center concluded 80 percent of taxpayers will get a significant tax cut while less than 5 percent will see a tax increase of more than $10.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., slammed the bill as a sop to the wealthy and bad news for the less privileged.
Citing Charles Dickens’ character in “A Christmas Carol,” she said Republicans essentially are saying, “Tiny Tim, we’re taking your crutch away from you and all the other kids in this country, and we’re putting a lump of coal into your Christmas stocking.”
The Congressional Budget Office’s “static” score of the bill, which doesn’t include projected economic growth, concludes the deficit would grow by about $1.5 trillion in the next decade. Republicans, pointing to the tax cuts of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, argue the bill will result in economic growth that will produce more revenue and, therefore, more taxes collected.
On the Senate floor Tuesday during debate over the bill, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, lambasted Democrats for being unwilling to cut taxes for the American people.
Not a single Democrat supported the cuts, he said, charging they are “so united in their rage at President Trump that they are willing to tell middle-class voters in their states ‘we don’t care.'”
See Sen. Ted Cruz’s remarks:
Eliminates Obamacare mandate, opens ANWR
Notably, the bill eliminates the Obamacare individual mandate, which required every taxpayer to buy health insurance, and opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, or ANWR, to oil drilling.
Trump has described the elimination of the individual mandate as a technical repeal of the Affordable Care Act, previously explaining “we will come up with something that will be much better, whether it’s block grants or whether it’s taking what we have and doing something terrific.” However, major elements of Obamacare such as Medicaid expansion remain, because Republicans failed to repeal and replace Obama’s signature law last summer.
The ANWR measure was celebrated by Alaska’s three federal lawmakers, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski, as a boon for energy independence and the economy. Murkowski opposed Trump’s plan to repeal Obamacare and just 14 months ago called on Trump to remove himself from the presidential race.
Trump noted Republican presidents, beginning with Reagan, have been trying to open up ANWR to drilling.
While Trump frequently has been at odds with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the president had only words of high praise for him Wednesday.
“What a job, what a job” McConnell did to help pass the bill, Trump said.
“We worked very hard, didn’t we? It was a lot of fun. It’s always fun when you win.”
Trump also praised “our great Speaker Paul Ryan” and Sens. Tim Scott, John Thune, Orrin Hatch, Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, John Cornyn and Susan Collins, saying, “We’re warriors together.”
McConnell: Trump’s ‘extraordinary accomplishments’
Invited to the mic Wednesday in front of the White House, McConnell noted Trump’s achievements in his first year in office, citing “ending the over-regulation of the economy,” the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court and putting 12 circuit court judges in place, the most since the circuit system was established in 1891.
“This has been a year of extraordinary accomplishments for the Trump administration,” McConnell said.
Ryan said “a promise that each and every one of us made last year is a promise that is kept today.”
The speaker, who also frequently has clashed with Trump, praised the president for his leadership in passing the bill.
“Something this big, something this generational, something this profound could not have been done without exquisite presidential leadership,” Ryan said.
“Mr. President, thank you for getting us over the finish line.”
Ryan said the bill will result in “bigger paychecks” and the ability of the economy to reach its potential.
“We’re so excited that we’re going to launch next year,” he said.
“Thanks to the American people for putting their trust in us, for giving us this chance and ability to make this moment possible,” said Ryan.
Citing criticism of the bill by Democrats and establishment media, Ryan was asked Wednesday evening by the Fox News Channel’s Martha MacCallum about Republican “messaging.”
“When people are bombarded with that kind of rhetoric, no wonder they’re a little confused,” the speaker said, adding “hyperbolic rhetoric is what Democrats thrive on.”
Ryan noted the same rhetoric was heard when President Reagan passed his tax-reform bill in 1986, helping ignite the largest expansion of the U.S. economy in history.
Only 18 percent of Americans at the time thought they would get a tax cut, Ryan noted.
Ryan confirmed he has a good relationship with Trump after a rocky start.
“We didn’t know each other then, we know each other now,” Ryan said. “We talk all the time. We have common goals, common objectives, to improve Americans’ lives.
“The friendship we’ve established, the cooperation we have is on behalf of the American people.”
‘Merry Christmas, America’
Vice President Mike Pence at the White House Wednesday thanked Trump for his “boundless faith in the American people,” saying passage of the bill will be “remembered as a pivotal moment in American history.”
“Merry Christmas, America,” he declared.
Pence said “American strength” starts with a growing American economy, free and fair trade, and rolling back regulations.
Help for single mothers
Trump said Sen. Tim Scott, R-N.C., was “crucial in solving problems” at difficult times during the negotiation process.
Scott said he wanted to make sure the bill provided ways to improve the lives of 52 million Americans in “distressed communities.”
The senator told Trump the bill will bring trillions of dollars into poor communities “because of your willingness to listen.”
“This is not about Washington; it’s not about the left, it’s not about the right, it’s about single-parent moms who are looking for a reason to be hopeful in 2018,” he said.
Scott said single mothers will, on average, receive a 70 percent tax cut.
Trump invited Sen. Murkowski to the podium, where she called the ANWR portion of the tax-reform bill “a bright day” for Alaska and for America during the northern state’s darkest days of the year.
Murkowski said a “multi-generational fight” has been going on for some 38 years to open ANWR.
“This Mr. President,” she said, turning to Trump, “is what energy dominance is all about. So let’s go.”
Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan said the move, along with being good for jobs and energy security, is also good for the environment, because Alaska has “the strongest” environmental safeguards.
Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said the bill “does what’s right for this nation.”
“This is the right policy, and we’re finally, finally doing it,” he said, regarding ANWR.
Hatch: ‘We’ll make this the greatest presidency we’ve seen’
With emotion in his voice, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, hailed Trump’s first-year accomplishments.
“Mr. President, I have to say that you’ve lived up to everything I thought you would. You’re one heckuva a leader. This bill could not have passed without you.”
He noted Trump hasn’t been in office even one year, and “and look at all the things he’s been able to get done, by sheer will in some ways.”
“And I just hope that we’ll all get behind him, and we’ll get this country turned around in ways that will benefit the whole world, but, above all, benefit our people and bring us all to a realization of how really great America really is and how the rest of the world depends on us,” Hatch said.
“I love this country,” he continued. “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 Cabinet members and colleagues who stand behind us.”
Hatch concluded with high hopes for Trump’s presidency.
“All I can say is that God loves this country. We all know it. We wouldn’t be where we are without Him. And we love all of you, and we’re going to keep fighting, and we’re going to make this the greatest presidency that we’ve seen, not only in generations, but maybe ever,” he said.
“God bless all of you.”
‘This is America’s comeback’
House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said he knew tax reform was possible when Trump was elected, and he told the president at the White House Wednesday, “But for your leadership we would not be here today.”
He said there are three dates Americans should mark.
On New Year’s Day, he said, “our country will have a new tax code for a new year of American prosperity.”
In February, the tax cuts will begin to show up in individual paychecks.
And April 15 “will be the last time you will file your taxes under this horrible, broken tax code.”
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the majority leader, also praised Trump, saying, “We would not be standing here today if it weren’t for you.”
He said it’s “a big day for America. This is America’s comeback.”
Trump concluded on a similar note.
“This will, indeed, be a very big day when people look back on the history of our country.”