In a small town outside of Pittsburgh, Donald Trump extolled one of the singular achievements accomplished in the first year of his presidency: The tax system overhaul, a $1.5 trillion, business-friendly tax cut bill that Republicans promised would deliver a major boost to the U.S. economy.
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Signed into law by President Trump in late December, the bill lowered the federal top marginal rate to 37% from 39.6% and slashed the existing corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% in order to incentivize American businesses and spur job growth. Already, more than 100 companies have announced plans to boost employees wages and provide one-time bonuses, oft citing the tax cuts as the source.
That includes Boeing (NYSE:BA), AT&T (NYSE:T) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which announced Wednesday that it would distribute bonuses worth $2,500 as restricted stock units to employees below the senior level title of “director.” Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) will raise its entry-level pay from $10 to $11 and offer a one-time cash bonus, based on the length of service, up to $1000; that was slightly dampened by reports that the retail giant would close 63 Sam’s Clubs, resulting in the loss of more than 1,000 jobs.
“The tax cuts are the most significant tax cuts, most significant reform, in American history, with tremendous tax relief for working families, the small businesses, for big businesses that produce jobs for just about everybody,” Trump said at the H&K Equipment Company in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania on Thursday. “Tremendous numbers, and you’re already seeing what’s happening.”
H&K Equipment will be making a $2.7 million capital investment, and its co-founder and President George Koch named the tax overhaul as the reason behind that, dismissing accusations that some companies are providing bonuses in order to curry favor with the president.
“The first year of his presidency generated a lot of enthusiasm,” Koch told FOX Business’ Melissa Francis. “There's a lot of businesses that, based on that enthusiasm, they purchased more. There was a lot of growth in the industries that we deal with.”
The tax overhaul, billed as the GOP’s first major since 1986, passed narrowly along partisan lines in the Senate and the House. Although Republicans are eyeing the bill as their key to the 2018 midterm elections, pointing to the record-high markets – and an unemployment rate that’s the lowest in more than 17 years – Democrats have warned that it could ultimately hurt America’s middle class.
Trump’s appearance, which comes in the midst of an impending government shutdown that Republicans are desperately trying to avoid, coincides with Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District special election race between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb.
Ahead of the visit, Trump threw his support behind Saccone: “Will be going to Pennsylvania today in order to give my total support to RICK SACCONE, running for Congress in a Special Election (March 13). Rick is a great guy. We need more Republicans to continue our already successful agenda!” he wrote in a tweet.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, the daughter of Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee, insisted ahead of the trip that it wasn’t a campaign event, and Trump gave another nod to Saccone in his prepared remarks, promising that he would “be back for Rick...and we will fill up the stadium.” Trump, who ran on a pro-manufacturing platform, narrowly carried the Keystone State in the 2016 presidential election, but lost Allegheny County -- the second biggest in the state -- to Hillary Clinton.
“We kept our promise. In Pennsylvania alone, families will see a tax cut of about $11 billion just this year alone,” he said. “That’s pretty good.”