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Republican tax rewrite over, next task is to sell it

Despite the apparent breaks and reliefs to average Americans, the legislation has been seen as favouring corporations and the wealthy.

world Updated: Dec 21, 2017 23:16 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,tax cut,wage hike
Vice President Mike Pence applauds US President Donald Trump as they celebrate passage of sweeping tax overhaul legislation at the White House in Washington on December 20, 2017.(REUTERS)

Soon after US President Donald Trump finished a “bill passage event” at the White House on Wednesday, some of America’s leading corporations began announcing bonuses and major multi-billion dollar investment over the coming year — a sequence that looked unabashedly scripted.

In fact, the first of the gun-salutes was announced by Trump himself: “Two minutes ago, they handed it to me. AT&T plans to increase US capital spending $1 billion and provide $1,000 special bonus to more than 200,000 US employees, and that’s because of what we did. So that’s pretty good,” he tweeted

Fifth Third Bancorp, a regional banking corporation, followed with a bonus and a higher minimum hourly wage; Wells Fargo, a banking company, also announced a wage hike and $400 million in philanthropic donations. And Comcast, a communication giant, announced a bonus and $50 billion investment.

The legislation, which cuts corporate rate from 35% to 21%, lowers top individual rate from 39.6% to 36% and has been seen to be favouring the wealthy and corporations, despite a $2,000 tax break it is expected to give an average American family of four making $75,000 annually.

Earlier on Wednesday, Congress passed a historic rewrite of the country’s tax code — cuts and reforms — handing Trump his first major legislative achievement.

Despite the apparent breaks and reliefs to average Americans, the legislation has been seen as favouring corporations and the wealthy. It remains unpopular in polls, with respondents considering it pro-rich and pro-big firms. The slew of sops announced by corporations seemed aimed at fixing that perception.

And Republican leaders have sought to counter the narrative by saying that their next task is it to sell it Americans, which, they have insisted, should not be difficult.

“When (the bill) gets in place, when people see their paychecks getting bigger in February because withholding tables have adjusted to reflect their tax cuts, when businesses are keeping more of what they earn, when they can write off their spending and hire more people, that’s going to change its popularity, I am convinced,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told CBS TV in an interview.

“So I think there’s just tons of confusion out there as to what this does or doesn’t do. A lot of people think it’s going to raise their taxes. So the proof is in the pudding, and I think the results will speak for themselves.”

First Published: Dec 21, 2017 23:16 IST