WHITE HOUSE —
U.S. President Donald Trump capped the biggest legislative accomplishment of his first year in office Friday, signing a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul into law minutes before departing Washington for holidays in Florida.
Clearly in a celebratory mood after the best week of his presidency, Trump said he wanted to fulfill a pledge to sign the “biggest tax cuts and reform in our country” by Christmas.
"I didn't want you folks to say I wasn't keeping my promise. I'm keeping my promise," he told reporters who witnessed the Oval Office signing ceremony.
In a tweet a short time later, Trump responded to criticisms from Congressional Democrats that the bill would be a big boon for the wealthiest Americans but would do little for average families.
"95% of Americans will pay less or, at worst, the same amount of taxes (mostly far less). The Dems only want to raise your taxes!" he tweeted.
The president also signed a short-term funding bill that will keep the government functioning through the holidays and into the New Year. The 30-day spending measure puts off the possibility of a government shutdown until late January.
The tax package, the most significant revenue bill since the 1980s, makes a permanent cut to the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and reduces the tax burden for most individuals for several years.
The president told reporters that corporations are “literally going wild” over the new tax rates, which he said he hopes will spur sufficient economic growth to cover the loss in tax revenues.
“Everything in here is really tremendous things for businesses, for people, for the middle class, for workers,” he said. “And I consider this very much a bill for the middle class and a bill for jobs. And jobs are produced through companies and corporations and you see that happening.”
Givaway to wealthy, critics say
Democrats have scoffed at the contention the bill will pay for itself, calling it a giveaway to the wealthy that would add $1.5 trillion to the $20 trillion national debt during the next decade at the expense of the working class.
After the bill passed, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, said, "Republican-controlled Washington has been an all you can eat buffet for the privileged, and the powerful, and the special interests."
Republicans "know they are going to lose the Congress [in next November's elections] so they're just taking all the furniture, all the paintings off the wall, everything they can get to give away to corporate America,” Pelosi said. “It’s just so obvious."
Trump again Friday praised several big U.S. companies that have announced employee bonuses in the wake of the bill's passage. He cited AT&T, Boeing, Wells Fargo, Comcast and Sinclair Broadcast Group as among corporations that were passing on to workers the expected benefits from the tax cuts.
The president’s final day before heading off to his Mar-a-Lago winter resort in Florida was marked by news that one of this top aides, Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn is leaving.
White House chief of staff John Kelly was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying he was heartbroken to see Dearborn leave. "Rick loyally served the president for two and a half years and brought tremendous energy to the White House staff," Kelly said.
Dearborn is the latest in a procession of White House staff exiting at the end of a bruising first year. Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell resigned earlier this month, and Omarosa Manigault Newman was forced out of her loosely defined position. More departures are expected as Trump restructures his team for his second year in office.