Trump signs tax cut in ‘rush job’ of­fi­cial event

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL - By Lau­rie Kell­man and Jonathan Lemire

WASH­ING­TON — In the end, Don­ald Trump’s top achieve­ment as pres­i­dent— a $1.5 tril­lion tax over­haul — was fi­nal­ized in a “rush job” of an af­fair. And that was OK with him.

None of the mem­bers of Congress who mus­cled through the big­gest tax over­haul in 30 years were in the Oval Of­fice as Trump signed the mea­sure into law. That’s be­cause the pres­i­dent was not pleased with news cov­er­age that morn­ing ques­tion­ing whether he would get the bill signed be­fore Christ­mas. So he or­dered up a spur-of-the­mo­ment sign­ing event where he ticked through what he de­scribed as the “tremen­dous” ac­com­plish­ments of his first year in of­fice.

“This is the cap­per,” Trump said of the tax pack­age, us­ing his last mo­ments of the year in the White House to sign the bill be­fore fly­ing to Florida for the hol­i­days. He also signed a tem­po­rary spend­ing bill to keep the gov­ern­ment run­ning and pro­vide money to up­grade the na­tion’s mis­sile de­fenses.

But the tax cut was at the top of Trump’s mind af­ter months of strug­gling to de­liver his agenda through a Re­pub­li­can-con­trolled Congress. Trump on Fri­day thanked the ab­sent GOP lead­ers and called the bill “some­thing I’m very proud of.”

Then, with no leg­is­la­tors on hand, he of­fered to dis­trib­ute pens from his sign­ing event to re­porters as­sem­bled in the Oval Of­fice. Clearly feel­ing some end- of- year cheer, the pres­i­dent who loves to de­cry “fake news” gave re­porters and cam­era crews credit for “work­ing very hard” and said, “We re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate that.”

Start­ing next year, the new tax law will de­liver big cuts to cor­po­ra­tion and wealthy Amer­i­cans and more mod­est re­duc­tions to other fam­i­lies. The tax law is the largest since 1986, but far from the big­gest in Amer­i­can his­tory, as the pres­i­dent re­peat­edly claims.

The first ma­jor over­haul of the na­tion’s tax laws since 1986 could add $1.5 tril­lion to the na­tional debt over the next decade, ac­cord­ing to the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice. Re­pub­li­can lead­ers have said they’re will­ing to take that step in pur­suit of a boost to the econ­omy. But some in the GOP worry their party could face a po­lit­i­cal back­lash with­out an ag­gres­sive pub­lic re­la­tions tour.

Trump con­tin­ued to pitch the new law as a win a for the mid­dle class, in­sist­ing that even though polling in­di­cates the tax cut is un­pop­u­lar, the re­sults will win peo­ple over.

“I don’t think I’m go­ing to have to travel too much to sell it” dur­ing the 2018 midterm elec­tions, Trump said. “I think it’s sell­ing it­self.”

Pas­sage of the tax bill marked a sig­nif­i­cant vic­tory for a pres­i­dent hun­gry for a win af­ter chaos and leg­isla­tive fail­ures dur­ing his first year in of­fice. Trump also ended the year with his sights still trained on his treat­ment by the press, tweet­ing that the main­stream me­dia “NEVER talk about our ac­com­plish­ments in the end of year re­views.”

“We are com­pil­ing a long @ beau­ti­ful list,” he tweeted.

Trump did cel­e­brate pas­sage of the tax bill at with a big cer­e­mony on the South Lawn of the White House ear­lier in the week. But he scrapped plans for a more for­mal sign­ing cer­e­mony in the new year to get it signed be­fore head­ing to his Mar-a-Lago re­sort in Florida.

“I said that the bill would be on my desk be­fore Christ­mas,” Trump said, as a Ma­rine he­li­copter whirred out­side, wait­ing to ferry him to Air Force One. “I didn’t want you folks to say that I wasn’t keeping my prom­ise.”

There were more big prom­ises to come, in­clud­ing Trump’s sug­ges­tion that he’ll work with Democrats in the elec­tion year to re­build the na­tion’s roads and bridges. In­fra­struc­ture, he said, is “easy.”

And there was no look­ing back.

Asked if he had any re­grets, Trump shook his head and said, “No.”

File, Evan Vucci /

AP Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump shows off the tax re­form bill af­ter sign­ing it in the Oval Of­fice of the White House.

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