WHITE HOUSE —
U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday promised Americans they are “going to have so much money to spend” if lawmakers approve his tax reform plan.
Trump, in an airport hangar in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, told a crowd of truckers that the typical American household would get "a $4,000 pay raise" with the changes he wants, although economists say that benefit would only materialize over eight years, at a rate of about $500 annually.
Trump's speech to hundreds of truck drivers — the most common job in more than half of the country's 50 states —- was intended to counter the views of independent analysts that the Republican tax blueprint would mostly benefit the highest income earners. These analysts contend that at least some middle-income taxpayers would pay more, not less, to the government under Trump's proposal.
The president, in his Pennsylvania speech, did not go into detail of how his plan would affect the wealthy. He said that his rich friends have been telling him they do not want anything from his proposal and are asking him “to give it to the middle class.”
White House officials say the plan would double the standard deduction so that more income is taxed at zero percent; the first $12,000 of income for individuals and $24,000 for married couples would be tax-free, and the seven existing income tax brackets for taxable income would be consolidated to three brackets: 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent.
The Republican-controlled Congress, however, has yet to determine at what levels of income the new rates would apply, leaving analysts to guess what effects the changes would have on any individual taxpayer.
"You better get it passed,” Trump said in a message to lawmakers.
At least six members of Congress were in the audience.
Trump also wants to trim corporate taxes to further boost the U.S. economy, the world's largest.
In his remarks, he also touted that since his election last November, the U.S. stock market has increased corporate values by $5.2 trillion and that unemployment is at its lowest point in 16 years.
The Trump administration, when it took office in January, predicted it would complete a tax overhaul by August, but now has its sights set on completing the reforms by the end of the year.
However, congressional tax-writing panels have yet to hold hearings and Democratic and Republican lawmakers have widely divergent views on what changes should be made.
Under some scenarios, the tax cuts could add to the country's long-term debt of more than $20 trillion, which would be an outrage to many conservative Republican lawmakers. Democratic lawmakers are calling for tax changes to mostly benefit the country's middle class and lowest-income taxpayers, not the wealthiest.
“Democrats want to raise your taxes very, very substantially,” Trump declared in his speech, labeling the opposition party as obstructionists “who are not telling you the truth.”