U.S. President Donald Trump held a meeting in the White House Wednesday to showcase American small businesses that say they have benefited from the tax reform bill passed by Congress late last year.
The meeting Wednesday was a follow-up to the president's State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, in which he noted that last year's tax reform plan cut the business tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, so, he said, "American companies can compete and win against anyone in the world."
Among his guests on Wednesday were employees of companies that gave out bonuses in anticipation of their lowered tax rate.
White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement before the meeting that since the tax reform was signed into law in December, "more than 275 companies nationwide have announced bonuses, raises, expanded benefits, or new jobs as a result of the bill."
Among Wednesday's visitors were representatives of a small farm store in Woodbury, Iowa; a credit card processing company in Muscogee County, Georgia; a manufacturer of machining components in Cleveland, Ohio; an insurance company in Columbus, Georgia; and three banking companies, based in Independence, Missouri, Arapahoe County, Colorado, and Fort Collins, Colorado.
Two of the banking companies were linked: Bank Midwest of Missouri is a member of a banking network owned by National Bank Holdings Corporation, based in Colorado.
Patrick Sobers, who represents National Bank Holdings Corporation, said his company awarded $1,000 bonuses to all of its noncommissioned associates earning a base salary of less than $50,000 per year. He said NBHC is also planning a tuition reimbursement plan. "This is having an impact not only on our associates," he said, "but also on our business clients."
Trump commented, "That's a big group, and there were a lot of happy people, right?"
Sobers answered, "Yes, there were."
John Anfinson of Anfinson's Farm Store said, "When I heard the bill was passed, I heard somebody was giving out bonuses, I decided to do it immediately. I felt like the kid who just got the keys to the new car." He said in addition to giving out bonuses to his seven employees, he ordered new farm equipment for the century-old family business.
China Edwards, an associate at Bank Midwest, called her bonus "a very unexpected surprise." The bank gave all full-time associates $500 bonuses and gave $250 to part-time employees.
"It was a gift, all of a sudden, for somebody that works very hard," Trump said. To William Harmon, who works for the credit card processing company Total Systems Services, he said, "You have a lot of happy friends, right?"
Critics of the new law say all is not as rosy as the president says: Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island said on the Senate floor in December that the law does more to aid real estate businesses more than it does individual American workers.
Steven Rosenthal, senior fellow at the nonpartisan think tank Tax Policy Center, agreed, telling Reuters news agency in December that the plan "seems ideally suited for commercial property businesses, where there aren't a lot of workers, but there is a lot of valuable property around."
And the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, another nonpartisan think tank, said in a November policy analysis that the new law will have more negative effects on "upper-middle-class families in major metropolitan areas, particularly in Democratic-leaning states where taxes, and usually property values, are higher."