WASHINGTON — “I love you,” President Trump told House Republicans Thursday as they prepared to massively restructure the U.S. tax code. “Now go vote!”
The members did as instructed, losing only 13 Republicans along the way, meaning that the measure passed the House with nine votes to spare. Depending on what happens in the Senate, the president has at least two very good reasons to love his loyal GOP soldiers.
For starters, a full year after his election to the highest office in the land, the 45th U.S. president is in dire need of a legislative victory. The administration, along with the entire Republican Party, which controls both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, is trying to stave off the stench of failure.
A White House signing ceremony, flanked by oft-warring factions in the GOP, would be an antidote. So, too, would tax time 2018, when the vast majority of working Americans would see tangible benefits: simpler tax forms and a lower tax bill. The House legislation, and another version in the Senate, double the standard deduction from $6,000 to $12,000 (twice that for a married couple). The House also cuts the number of tax brackets from seven to four, and lowers the income tax rate for everyone but top earners. Because no Democrat supported it, Trump and his merry band of Republicans would get all the credit.
Second, this bill will add vast new wealth to the Trump family fortune. How much money we are talking about is anybody’s guess, as The Donald has stubbornly refused all entreaties to release his taxes. But several features of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 all but guarantee that he and his kin stand to gain personally. A lot.
Let’s start with the estate tax, which Republicans insist on calling the “death tax.” Whatever you call it, it’s paid mostly by the well-to-do. Currently, only property and assets worth more than $5.5 million are subject to this tax. Under the House bill, it doubles next year to $11 million, and goes away entirely…