Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) was recently hailed for being the only Tea-Publican in the Senate who voted aganst the terrible Senate GOP tax bill. Then on Friday, he announced that he would support the GOP conference committee bill, which is marginally worse than the GOP Senate bill. WTF?
So what would cause Sen. Corker to sell out? John Cassidy of the New Yorker hinted at the reason in The Final Version of the G.O.P. Tax Bill Is a Corrupt, Cruel, Budget-Busting Hairball:
Another provision, which wasn’t in the House or Senate bills, allows real-estate developers who own buildings through L.L.C.s, as Trump does, to deduct twenty per cent of the income that these properties generate. To qualify for the break, the properties have to be newish ones that haven’t been fully depreciated. “This helps people who have held property for a while, like Donald Trump,” David Kamin, a law professor at New York University, told David Sirota and Josh Keefe, of the International Business Times.
Another beneficiary of this provision may well be Senator Bob Corker, of Tennessee, who is also a real-estate investor. Corker had been the only Republican to vote against the Senate version of the tax bill, but on Friday he announced that he’d changed his mind, and that “after great thought and consideration, I believe this once-in-a-generation opportunity to make U.S. businesses domestically more productive and internationally more competitive is one we should not miss.” Corker didn’t mention his personal interests, but Sirota and Keefe did. “Federal records reviewed by IBT show that Corker has millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate-related LLCs that could also benefit” from the final bill, they reported.
Jake Johnson follows up on what smacks of bribery of Sen. Corker at Common Dreams. Sen. Bob Corker Could Save $1.1 Million Per Year From GOP Tax Scam ‘Kickback’:
The firestorm of outrage sparked by a provision in the GOP tax bill that would personally enrich Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and President Donald Trump continued to grow on Monday as a leading economist estimated that, if passed, the measure could shave over $1.1 million from Corker’s taxes each year.
First unveiled by the International Business Times on Saturday, the provision—buried in the 500-page Republican tax plan—”would allow income from real estate investment trusts to be taxed at a 20 percent rate, as opposed to the 37 percent tax rate paid by high income individuals,” notes Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “According to Corker’s disclosure forms, he makes between $1.2 million and $7.0 million annually in this sort of income….If we plug in the top end $7 million figure, Corker could be saving as much as $1,190,000 from this late addition to the tax bill.”
These savings serve as a marked contrast to the benefits that would be seen by low-income families as a result of the highly-touted child tax credit changes demanded by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in exchange for his vote, Baker goes on to observe. While Corker, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, could potentially see a million-dollar annual benefit from the GOP tax plan, a married couple with two children earning $30,000 a year would only get an extra $800 from Rubio’s tax credit efforts.
Baker used a simple chart to spotlight the vast disparity:
Following reports that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is expected to miss the Senate’s vote on the final version of the GOP tax plan, which could come as early as Tuesday, the widespread fury prompted by what has been termed the “Corker Kickback” gained even more significance. With McCain likely out of the mix, the Senate can only afford to lose one vote if the $1.5 trillion tax bill is to reach Trump’s desk.
The outrage prompted by the real estate provision, which was not in previous versions of the tax bill, has not gone unnoticed by Corker. In response to the International Business Times‘ reporting on Saturday, Corker conceded that he has not read the tax bill in full—just a “a two-page summary”—and claimed that he was unaware of the addition that has drawn so much condemnation.
Late Sunday, Corker—the lone Republican to vote against the Senate version of the tax bill—sent a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, highlighting “concerns” that the provision has raised and requesting “an explanation of the evolution of this provision and how it made it into the final conference report.”
UPDATE: Martin Longman at the Political Animal blog reports that Sen. Corker can “probably use the money to help pay his past tax bills, since the Wall Street Journal reported last week that the Tennessee senator has been making a lot of ‘filing errors.’ In other words, the following all came to light in between his vote against the tax bill and his announcement that he would support the tax bill.” Senator Bob Corker Looks Very, Very Bad.
Chad Bolt, senior policy manager at Indivisible, urged Americans to keep the heat on Corker as well as Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
UPDATE: A protestor reminds Sen. Bob Corker of his pledge not to vote for a tax bill that adds “one penny” to the national debt (the GOP tax bill is deficit financed to the tune of more than $1.5 trillion dollars — that’s a lot of pennies, Sen. Corker).
The New York Times editorializes, Tax Bill Lets Trump and Republicans Feather Their Own Nests.
The Washington Post editorializes, Bob Corker’s suspicious yes on the tax bill.
“The conservative Tax Foundation predicts the plan will increase the federal deficit by $1.47 trillion, or $448 billion when you factor in economic growth; while the group of budget hawks say it could end up costing $2.2 trillion, or $1.5 trillion including economic growth.” (h/t Axios.com)